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Dyeing Upholstery Fabric

Category Refinishing
One way to give new life to your upholstered furniture it to paint it. This is a page about painting upholstery fabric.


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July 23, 2008

Turn a dirty old chair into a favorite easily with simple paint! I did this chair in an evening and it was terrible looking, but the sturdy well built condition made it worth lugging home!

I am offering before and after pics to show you what a little paint can fix!

By melody_yesterday from Sedalia, MO

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
March 18, 2008

I would like to know if I paint a reclining chair with floral spray paint will the paint rub off on clothing? Thanks.

Laura from Wilson, NC


March 18, 20080 found this helpful

It won't work. Floral paint is light-duty paint and won't permanently adhere to leather surfaces.


It will flake off in no time at all.

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March 18, 20080 found this helpful

Floral Spray paint is TRANSPARENT. So, be aware of that. It won't REALLY cover your recliner, but IF you just want a hint of color & IF the can says 100% ACRYLIC, It would be okay to use. BUT, If it were me, & I REALLY wanted to re-color my chair, depending on what fabric your recliner is made from, I'd buy either a gallon of 100% ACRYLIC (NOT latex!) paint from Home Depot, (it can be tinted to ANY color & can be bought in ANY sheen). I'd then mix 1 quart of this paint with about 8 ounces or so of "Fabric Medium". You buy "fabric medium" in the craft paint or artist paint section of any craft store. This "fabric Medium" makes the Acrylic paint pliable & not stiff & crack. If your chair is made from LEATHER, then I'd use leather dye, NOT paint.


After you've followed the directions on the bottle of leather dye & cleaned the chair, then dyed it, & let it dry & you've buffed it, then be sure to add several coats of mink oil or silicone over the top of the dye. Leather dye can be bought at Tandy Leather Company. I paint murals, fired tiles & detailed botanicals on Pottery for a living, for more info on paint, write me here on ThriftyFun. I really can't give you detailed info on how to do this until I know what fabric your recliner is made from. There are MANY types of dye, for many fabrics.

---> They sell a special Spray Paint at most Auto parts stores or in the paint or auto department of discount stores that's made specially to spray paint upholstery with. It's made to paint the interior of cars, headliners, bucket seats & inside door panels... Special formulated for fabrics, leather & Vinyl. If you want to spray paint your recliner, THIS is what you need! I've also seen this at some dollar stores, it doesn't sell very quickly because it's not regular spray-paint, but UPHOLSTERY PAINT.

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By Laura Felton (Guest Post)
March 19, 20080 found this helpful

I would like to thank all the people who responded to
my question. I will be trying to do this in May when


I can take the chair outside. I love the chair and have
put it in my bedroom so I can enjoy reading, watching TV
or simply sitting. The chair is a horrible, non-descript, icky, dark green and black, a real eyesore.I'm so
glad that there is a way to give it a make-over.
Thanks again

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

Paint is OK for wooden parts. For durability it should be topped with a wood finish like polyurethane. For vinyl, cloth, or leather, you will need an appropriate dye. (What the heck is floral spray paint, anyhow? You just spritz it on and you get a flower design? Patent that and you will make a billion dollars!)

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By 0 found this helpful
July 10, 2005

I've been thinking about trying something different with my cherry wood dining chairs with white cloth seats. Over the years, I've had several stains that I couldn't get out no matter what I tried.


Rather than bleaching, recovering or anything else with the seats, I thought maybe I could use some kind of dye, coloring or paint/stain to put a multicolor print on them. Is there some kind of dye or paint I could use to color the stained white cloth? It would be very unique, bright and pretty.

I just worry that whatever I use may eventually begin wearing off on people's behinds if I don't use the right stuff!

Any guidance?

Thanks :)

Mary from Ohio...


July 12, 20050 found this helpful

I tried this with my dining room chairs a few years back (my daughter had taken magic marker to them)...I used Rit dye...however, I didn't exactly follow the directions, I think I left the salt out. The chairs looked beautiful when I was finished!...We had just redecorated our living/dining room in blacks and browns (I know it sounds like a dungeon but it's very restful). Anyways, we had some company over so we asked them to stay for dinner. My husband was wearing tan shorts and ran out to turn off the sprinkler outside, which squirted him a little in the behind.


To make a long story short, we had a good laugh when he got up from dinner...his pants were BROWN on the seat and it's a good thing he has a good sense of humor! I'm not sure where I went wrong, it may have been not following the directions, it may have been the stain resistance on the seats that didn't allow the dye to penetrate, ....just BE CAREFUL! I ended up recovering them anyways which was really easy with a staple gun and they look nice again. My inlaws thought I got new chairs.

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July 12, 20050 found this helpful

Like the suggestion below--it is really easy to recover the kinds of chairs that have the seat that screws off. Please try this instead of coloring them. You'd probably have to take the seats off to do that anyway, so why not just recover them with some great new fabric from the sale rack at the fabric store? You can even add a layer of clear vinyl if you choose fabric that is too thin or if you have youthful guests and you want to protect the seats. Just lay down the clear vinyl (buy it from the rolls at the back of JoAnn's or other full-service fabric stores), then the decorative fabric (face down), then plop your cushion face down on it. Pull the plastic and fabric around to the back of the seat botton, staple it, then screw it back on the chair frame.

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April 27, 20070 found this helpful

I have used a fabric spray paint on my van and some furniture. It worked great. Dries soft and did not rub off.
It is called Simply Spray. They now have a special upholstery paint too. You can find it online by searching for Fabric Spray Paint.

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By Linda (Guest Post)
November 11, 20080 found this helpful

My daughter called and was so upset. She somehow had left stains (brown) on several new pieces of clothes. What in God's green earth could take this out? Thanks, Linda

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By 0 found this helpful
January 15, 2009

I have a chair that would be very difficult to remove the fabric. The fabric is a sturdy cotton. Is there a way I can brush fabric paint or fabric dye on the material to change the color while it is still on the chair?

Donna from New York, NY


January 15, 20090 found this helpful

I know that there are painted pieces of upholstered - I know a colleague painted designs on a couch just with fabric paint.

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January 16, 20090 found this helpful

There are such things as COLD dyes that can be gotten at fabric shops. I know the Joann Fabric chain has them. Also, suggestions of using RIT is great. You USE the LIQUID form, not powdered. You can use a qtip to test an underside piece of fabric. The RIT website has directions for crafts, etc there. Also, you can use TEA or BEETS to color, or any other natural dye method.
Remember to do it outside or protect your flooring with heavy duty sheet plastic. WEAR GLOVES and old clothes. Also, get some sort of clamping item (I use kelly-surgical clamps) for so many crafts things and assists. You can find these in electronic shops as well.
OR get the small foam paint brushes to help put the color on smoothly.

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February 14, 20090 found this helpful

Can you tell us what were the instructions from Michelle on DIY from BE ORiginal show about painting the couch. Did you try it - how easy was it and did the color turn out nice?

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 15, 20090 found this helpful

Would I be able to change the color of a chair with fabric paint? Is there a spray can fabric paint that I can use? I have a nice chair but the color is all wrong.

Octoberbabye from Bradenton, FL, USA


Changing the Color of a Fabric Chair

How about using Rit dye? I would think that you could mix it in a bucket and use a sponge or brush to apply it to the chair. I would wait until spring or summer so that you could put it outside to dry thoroughly. Maybe you could buy some fabric that you like and make a slipcover for the chair? (02/25/2007)

By Paula

Changing the Color of a Fabric Chair

I changed the color of the carpet in my car by mixing rit dye in a spray bottle and spraying on. Be careful with a chair though cause you can't rinse it and the dye may come off on clothes, but you could probably set the color with an iron like they do with silk scarves. (02/25/2007)

Changing the Color of a Fabric Chair

I saw an episode on DIY that painted an entire sofa. She first used some sort of primer and then the color she wanted. Looked very nice when she was done.
I am sorry I don't remember who or what show. Perhaps a search in their archives? It was maybe 2 weeks ago. (02/27/2007)

By Graycrab

Changing the Color of a Fabric Chair

Hey, I found something that works great for that. It is a fabric spray paint made for upholstery. It is made by Simply Spray. You can find it by searching google for "fabric spray paint". It covered nicely, dried soft, and does not rub off. I do not think dye would work because that has to be rinsed out after you dye it. (05/02/2007)

By greg

Changing the Color of a Fabric Chair

Thanks for all the responses. I went to the DIY site and contacted Michelle who does the Be Original show and she sent me the instructions. It's a painting project, first setting with gesso and then using latex paint. I have one couch to experiment on and if it works, I will do my living room couch and chair.
I did check the spray paint for fabrics, but the cost was too much. It cost me $10.00 for the gesso (and then I found that cheaper), and I have lots of paint around. Thanks again.

By octoberbabye

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