Using Chalk Paint® to Paint Your Couch or Wing Back Chair (Fabric or Leather)

Not in love with your furniture any more?

Instead of tossing it and buying new right away- consider painting it using Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan. Some important things to keep in mind if taking this journey:

  • Natural fiber materials will always take the paint better and be the most successful.
  • It is always easiest painting a lighter color fabric to make it a darker color
  • Annie’s dome top brushes are wonderful to use when painting fabric. They come in a small, medium and large. My favorite is the small where the bristles plump up to about 2.5 inches once loaded with paint. The bigger the brush head, the heavier it will be in your hand when fully loaded with paint.
  • If you apply Chalk Paint® to fabric, it will look “chalky” till you apply Annie’s Clear Wax
  • Water will be your friend when painting fabric. And find a good textile medium at your local craft store. Do not use Chalk Paint® straight out of the tin without these. Some people will use just water, but others feel that the key is using textile medium, water, and paint in equals parts and pre moisten the fabric.. If just using water, dilute your Chalk Paint with water until it becomes like the consistency of thin milk (this is a must when painting directly on to fabric – the paint needs to absorb in to the fiber). Remember – you are dying the fabric not saturating the cushion and the stuffing inside.
  • Some people will lightly sand the dried Chalk Paint® after you have a couple of coats built to a solid base. Try using 600 grit sandpaper lightly over it, it should give the finished surface a soft feeling. like a canvas.
  • Watch Annie’s VIDEO HERE

Kathy Cooley of NY did the wingback chair below using Capri Pink Chalk Paint.

Love that blue couch above —   Studio 184’s customer – Joan Thompson painted her sofa and matching chair with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in a custom mix. She said, “I wanted a “bright Navy”, not too dark, just the right color of blue and so far it has been super durable.”   

Melinda Silverhale loves Oxford Navy Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. She added a pop of color to her barstools shown above to offset the natural wood in her home by mixing Oxford Navy in a 5:1 ratio with Chicago Grey and painting the microsuede seats of her bar stools. She sealed the bar stools using Annie’s Clear Wax

The Purple Painted Lady Painting a couch chalk Paint fabric BEFORE After 1













It does NOT matter if the material of the furniture is:






fabric…velvet, brocade, leather or vinyl. Chalk Paint® will transform it…resurrect it…..and make you re-love it!

Keep in mind however, painting fabric will change the feel of it. Since you are not dyeing the fabric- it will have a stiffer, firmer feel.

TIP #1.  Painting “natural” fabrics works best.  Synthetics or synthetic blends, will not absorb the paint as well, and the paint will basically sit on top of the fibres.  It is always very important to test the paint on upholstered furniture before tackling a large project. 

TIP #2.  Using Annie’s brushes with the bigger head is ideal to get paint into all of the nooks and crannies of the textured material, fabric or suede.   Here is a link to my favorite Annie Sloan brush.


So, although many, many people have done this. Do a test spot in an inconspicuous spot and feel it before painting the whole thing!    For any project, we would recommend testing in a small area first before you commit to painting the whole piece. As a general rule, we don’t recommend painting very cushioned sofas that have lots of folds to the fabric or items that get very heavy use. This is an unconventional use for the paint- so don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques either – applying the paint more thickly will change the composition of the fabric, making it stiffer. This can then be waxed and buffed to create a leather effect.  In most cases, you will see better results where you are going from light fabric to a darker color with paint versus if you are trying to go from dark fabric with a light colored paint.  And just a disclaimer…’s completely fine for people to experiment and try things that are more ambitious! In my experience, the people who are most successful at these sort of projects are those who are experienced in using Chalk Paint® and who understand the kind of results they can expect from using it in an unconventional way. 


Chalk Paint® is absolutely amazing in all it can do and when it comes to painting furniture- which when it is fabric furniture, it is similar to dying it. The Purple Painted Lady has done this herself and has had so many customers do this also. In fact, one customer of ours, Teresa at Lou’s Back Door Consignment in Fairport, NY had an old style couch. You know the kind with the ruffle pleat that goes all the way around the whole base. She painted it- and cannot stop raving about it!!! (Check out her Facebook page by clicking on the business name above and consider giving it a LIKE)

Please see examples below and read the step by step suggested way to approach painting your fabric furniture, but here is one of my favorite HOW TO videos that you should watch of Annie Sloan stepping you through this process!

Sarah Cornett The Purple Painted Lady Painted Chalk Paint Fabric Couch rustic chic interiors 2

Keep in mind that if the fabric on your furniture has a heavy textured pattern, Chalk Paint® will change the color of the fabric, but it won’t hide the pattern.

YES………You can paint old worn out leather too!!  Look what Stacey Denniston from Palmyra, NY did!  

Primer Red CHALK PAINT and clear wax by Annie Sloan transformed this tired leather chair into a fresh piece for Stacey Denniston’s home. Stacey said she loves the feel because it’s just like leather. You can do this too!

Check out this beautiful transformation by Erin at The French Marketplace. In order to get the stripes nice and crisp, she used “Frog Tape.” She finds that it works really well to achieve a nice, crisp line with no bleed through. Also, she made sure to burnish the tape really well to ensure good adhesion. When she came to the cording, she was careful to make sure that the tape was tucked completely around the cording securely. And that was it!

The Purple Painted Lady Before and After painted chairs Chalk Paint annie sloan

Or try something fun like the famous Janet Metzger from The Empty Nest did.   She used Honfleur Chalk Paint® all over this mauve colored wing back chair than embellished it using Antoinette, Old White, and a bunch of other colors in the Annie Sloan suite!


Nice Before & After, huh?  

Here is another by Lizzie White Vintage Chic!  If you stop by their Facebook page- tell them The Purple Painted Lady sent you.  : )

The Purple Painted Lady Michael Herrmann Chalk Paint Annie Sloan Chairs with fabric Graphite Lizzie White Vintage Chic


When calculating paint needs- keep in mind that painting fabric is very different than painting a hard surface. Fabric will absorb the paint more. (much more!) You will use more paint covering fabric that will absorb and suck up the paint, compared to painting a wood dresser. You will most likely need to apply two full coats – even a possible- third in specific areas pending the color you chose or if you are covering red fabric with a light color Chalk Paint®.


Yes! Use 300 grit sandpaper after you have applied a couple coats and lightly polish the paint. It will soften it dramatically- but NOTE it will create dust. So, wipe that off with a towel before applying your clear wax. Also- stay away from edges or corners since it is an angle- you could break through the paint and show the real fabric beneath.

Picmonkey painted fabric Patricia The Purple Painted Lady2


When painting velvet that has a heavy texture, make sure to lay the knap in the direction you want it to be once dry with your paint brush in your final, finishing stroke. Meaning, when initially painting, you may approach the fabric surface from different directions with your brush….but before moving on to a new area to paint…with your paint brush…stroke the surface so the knap lays consistently and smoothly in the same direction.


Make sure to read this post HERE after this one!

Perfectly imperfect/Hollywood Regency Glam? My customer, Maria Antonieta wanted to change a dark – traditional leather & wood chair into “Hollywood Regency Glam.” She used Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan in Pure White and Silver French Gilding Wax. Maria wrote me, “A lot of work, the leather cracked a little (not perfect as all the blogs I read online) no matter the paint, technique,etc)
The purple Painted Lady Chalk Paint painting Leather Maria Antonieta H

Maria wrote, “The chalk paint is a good paint but not as perfect finished as expected. (on leather) Good enough. But the gilding was the magic. LOVE IT….Love the effect !”

Why am I sharing this?

Because this is Maria’s true outcome. Often Chalk Paint® works perfectly and beautifully. And although Maria had a little crazing- this chair was transformed to blend with her style versus having to buy a new one. What do you think?


Chalk Paint® is quite amazing, but it is not a miracle.  The whole painting of fabric furniture is something that evolved with using Chalk Paint® by customers choosing to try it.  It was not originally promoted to do this – and truly – although it does transform and extend the life of a piece of furniture….it may not always by successful.    Personally, I have found that Chalk Paint® does not have the elasticity ability to be pinched or creased because it causes it will crack.



If you did not thin your paint at all – or enough, you may end up with a crackled look. This may help you.  Try sanding the paint softly with some 300 or 400 grit sandpaper. In this step- make sure to be careful not to sand the edges or corners since you may break through to the actual leather.  Again- stay away from the edges so you do not accidentally get a distressed look by wearing thru the paint.

And lastly, if interested in purchasing product on-line- check out our on-line store HERE after reading this post. We offer awesome customer service and the lowest flat rate shipping and…(drum roll please!) …… we ship the same day you place your order! (small print disclaimer – we ship same day as long as your order is placed before our UPS guy has come) But if you visit our FACEBOOK PAGE and look at our customer reviews- I think you will get the hint that we are super fast in turning your order around and we really care about our customers!

Now..after stirring up all of this excitement I need to share…..that Chalk Paint® is amazing- but it is not a miracle…so always do a test in an inconspicuous location if you are hesitant. What do I mean by this? I certainly do not want to burst the bubble, but I often share with my customers that some people “use” their furniture and then,..there are some who “abuse” their furniture. If you have four 120 pound Great Danes who like to play and jump on the furniture coming straight in from outside with muddy paws…this painting technique will work, but I would not guarantee it for years of use. Ok? For the majority of us who sit on our furniture and watch TV, take naps, read stories to our kids and yes, have pets- …you will love this as an alternative option.


After the paint on your leather has been dry for about 24 hours, then wax.  (this extra time allows your paint to really set up, adhere and cure)

To apply the wax, we used a lint free cotton rag instead of a wax brush.  The leather is soft and subtle and we found using a rag to be best, but you may have a different opinion- and that is fine.  Go with what works for you.

Basically- we gently rubbed the wax around and in and then stopped when it felt smooth and almost dry to the touch.  Can you see in the photo above how the wax makes the painted leather a little darker?  It does NOT change the color but intensifies it.

This was a super easy process and the wax sealed the paint and made it feel like the most luxurious leather coat you have ever felt.

If you apply too much wax and need to remove the excess, just take a fresh, clean, lint free rag and gently wipe off the excess.

Keep in mind- on leather- you can tint your Chalk Paint® Wax using Annie’s paint.  This can add a cool look, like Melinda did with this leather chair that she painted in Oxford Navy Chalk Paint®.

Be gentle when rubbing near the seems , corners or edges so that your removing of the wax does not act like a “wet distress” where you remove the paint.   It is normal to get some color transfer on your rag that you are applying your wax with, so do not panic when that happens.
PicMonkey Collage The Purple Painted Lady Chalk Paint Fabric Chair Roxanne

To paint your furniture- follow these steps:

1. If painting a chair or couch, you will need:


* Drop cloth
* Chalk Paint® decorative paint in the color of your choice! Depending on your project- you may need more than a sample pot- but you will NOT use a whole quart.
* A natural bristle paint brush …either one of these will work PURDY or Annie’s SMALL Brush But Annie’s brush is the absolute best for this application.
* Annie’s Clear Wax

2. Make sure to have a plastic drop cloth beneath your furniture.

CLEAN YOUR FABRIC.   Dust it off or vacuum it.

3. It is important that immediately prior to painting the fabric- that you get a spritz bottle (like an old Windex bottle.) Fill it with water and lightly mist your fabric. You want the fabric to be moisten and definitely damp- but not dripping wet.

4. I strongly recommend using Annie’s SMALL paint brush when painting fabric! It will make your project so much easier, versus using a traditional flat/straight cut brush.

Annies Brushes

5. Thin your Chalk Paint® with water. So, whatever color Chalk Paint® you are using…you can either:

A. Pour some in a separate container and thin it slightly with water. I would consider starting by adding about 20% water to whatever amount you have. (YOU MAY NEED TO ADD MORE WATER!)  You do not want it soupy- but thinned enough that when it dries, it is not too thick and crusty)    If you do not thin your Chalk Paint®- due to it being a thicker paint- it may crackle. This does NOT jeopardize the adhesion ability of the paint and actually gives the look of leather or crocodile skin. Many of my customers love a chair that I did in my shop over two years ago like this!


B. Have a plastic cup filled with about a 1/4 cup of water. Dip your paint brush into your paint, then quickly dip the tips of your brush into the water. Then paint! Make sure to position your paint and water close to your project- so you do not drip any on the floor.

(I prefer option A)

PicMonkey Collage painted couch The Purple Painted Lady before after

Painted Chair seat FABRIC

6. Begin painting your fabric. Apply a uniform thin coat and let it fully dry. Try applying the paint using your brush in a circular motion if painting a tweed. If painting a leather- you have options.



A customer  had bleed through on a painted chair cushion. She ended up using  Kilz Oil Based Stain Blocker in the spray can. She said it worked great!

A. SMOOTH FINISH: Want a smoother finish- paint in traditional linear strokes. And lay your paint in the direction you want it to look before moving on to a new section.
B. Try experimenting on a sample board prior to taking on your big leather couch and try laying Chalk Paint® in random directions. In many of Annie’s awesome videos on YouTube- you will see her painting like this. It is brilliant and creates a very nice finish. You can either be more subtle with this technique- or be bold.

You will most likely want to paint a second coat depending on how it looks. If you need to mix more paint with water- you do not need to thin it quite as much.

The Purple Painted Lady Painted Chalk Paint Fabric Couch Rhonda Banton Vaughn English Yellow picmonkey

7. Once everything is totally dry- and you are happy with the coverage- apply a thin coat of clear wax using a rag. This helps in keeping the fabric soft and subtle and protects it. Some people do not add the wax- but I think it is nice and again, it seals the fabric almost like a Scotch Guard protector. Again- I personally recommend waxing, but you may want to watch THIS funny video of a gentleman named Perry doing the “wiggle test” on a chair painted using Chalk Paint® that has not been waxed. If you watch the video, leave a note that The Purple Painted Lady sent you.
PicMonkey Collage the purple painted Lady Reclaimed and lovely furniture fabric chair chalk paint

We have a friend named Jeff who does wood carvings at our festival ( Critters 3D ) is his business name. I don’t know all the background info but he came to shop asking if Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan could be used on leather or vinyl. From personal experience, I told him YES!
Just thin your paint a little with warm water and paint. Apply the Chalk Paint® in uniform, thin coats and let dry thoroughly before applying a second coat. Once all done painting and it looks great, then you can apply a thin coat of Annie’s Chalk Paint Wax to seal the paint. Wipe off the excess – and do a second coat later. This will seal, protect and make the surface feel reeeaaallll nice!
So, Jeff got some Athenian Black and changed the color of the arm rest from beige to black. Now we need to convince Jeff to paint all of the inside of the door.

Sill unsure of about painting your furniture, check out Annie Sloan herself painting a chair on national television HERE.

I have customers who have painted their furniture who also have dogs that get on their furniture and teenagers! They have been extremely satisfied in the longevity and how the paint can withstand the use. With that said, I think it is important to say- it is important that your pets nails be clipped and not be daggers. I also would not guarantee the outcome if you have little ones who use your couch as a trampoline. I always share that Chalk Paint® is incredible, but it is not a miracle. : )
The Purple Painted Lady Painting a couch chalk Paint fabric before after 2

If you have painted your furniture- please feel free to share your photos on my Facebook page! OR- email them to me at takuntz AT (AT – @)

And remember ~if interested in purchasing Annie Sloan products, please visit our website if interested in ordering Chalk Paint®. We have Chalk Paint® available for the lowest price we are permitted to sell it for, we offer low/flat rate shipping and it always ships same day (as long as our UPS guy has not come already!)

In fact- there are many reasons we think buying through us is the best. Read THIS little post about what sets The Purple Painted Lady apart from the rest.

To visit our on-line store- click HERE.

Lastly, we share a lot more information to help you get the most functionality out of your Chalk Paint® on our Facebook page. Consider checking it out by clicking HERE. While there- kindly consider LIKING us.

If you are interested in staying touch with The Purple Painted Lady- visit our Facebook page HERE – we would LOVE to hear from you and see your before & after photos!


As for buying any of the products we mentioned earlier in this post- I hope that you select The Purple Painted Lady™ to be your one stop resource!  We have four locations in western NY.  Check out our Information tab and come and meet us!  Otherwise- if you are not located near me- the following information may apply to you.  This information is directed to those who do NOT have a local stockist.  Because if you do – go and meet them, shop from them and build a relationship with them.  The guidance, information and knowledge they share with you – will be invaluable.  But, if you are in a location where there is no one selling paint products- and you must buy on-line- consider us.  With that said, visit to find a stockist near you.
We are here to help you, our customers!  We want you to be successful!  And, just so you know, when you place an order with The Purple Painted Lady:
*  We sell Chalk Paint® at the lowest price we are permitted to
*  If you order before 3 pm EASTERN TIME any day Monday thru Friday – we will ship out your package that SAME day.
*  We ship orders out every since week day all over the US.
*  We offer the lowest flat rate UPS shipping cost so if you are one town away or 10 states away- the shipping cost is the same.
*  We have awesome follow up customer service, too!
And- it is my paint sales that keep me in business and allow me to be here to help you.  (my shameless but honest plug)    Here is a link to our on-line shop=>
: )  And I will be here to help you as you progress through your future project!  And if I do say so myself- we offer the BEST customer service that you will ever experience!Lastly- if I was helpful to you- ….please consider leaving a positive review on my Facebook business page sharing your positive experience or thoughts about The Purple Painted Lady.  Here is a link to my Facebook page=>    This really helps me!  (wink, wink!)

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