Painting a vintage, Polyester couch can definitely be done. Who knew you could paint a couch? Follow along to learn how I did it, as well as some tips to consider before going through this process.
For some time I have struggled with contentment in my current home. I always felt like it wasn’t a forever home. We have lived in our home for over four years and I still have only hung a couple of pictures on the wall. I’m not exactly sure why I have been feeling this way, but it is definitely hindering me enjoying the blessing of our beautiful home.
I recently have been inspired to add some vintage charm to our modern home. Doing so would add so much charm and unique, cozy style to our home. I mean, I’ve don’t other DIY projects to make my home cozy like sewing blankets and oven mitts.
So, I picked up a free Vintage, Polyester couch from Facebook marketplace and figured I’d give this style a try. The wood on the couch is still in almost mint condition and aside from dog hair, the couch has been kept fairly well. The fabric design on this vintage couch, however, was not my style so I decided to give painting it a try! I never would have guessed that you could actually paint fabric, but it can be done.
When you are painting fabric with chalk paint you are essentially dying the fabric. In order to be sure that your fabric doesn’t turn out as a rock hard mess, you’ll want to follow a few basic steps. Use painters tape to isolate any areas on the furniture that you do not want painted. Be sure to press down the tape firmly to ensure a tight contact so that paint doesn’t seep through.
Why would you paint a couch instead of re-upholstering it?
Painting a couch is not the only way to change the color of your couch. Re-upholstering it would be the best, long-term option. Price is something to consider when thinking about your options. The re-upholstering route is definitely more expensive because of the materials needed to complete the project.
How much does it cost to paint a couch?
Painting a couch is absolutely the cheapest route I have found to change the color of a couch. By painting the couch we are essentially just dying the fabric by diluting chalk paint and painting it onto wet fabric. I already had paint brushes specific for chalk paint. If you do not have specific chalk paint brushes, these are a must for this project! Because I needed so many layers of paint, I ended up using 3 quart sized containers of paint for this project.
Please consider my tips below and save yourself some money by only needing 1 quart for a project of this size. I chose to use Magnolia chalk paint in the color Antique Rose for this project. It cost about $37 per quart plus the furniture wax I got for this project. All in all it cost me about $150 to complete this project. You definitely could save some money by choosing a cheaper brand and a darker color that will require less coats of paint.
Things to consider before you paint a couch
There are a couple of things I learned along the way that I want to share with you all. All in all this project was worth it and fulfilling, but some challenges did present themselves. I got so excited about a free, Vintage couch that my mind didn’t even thing about the possible problems that could come up with this project.
Do me a favor and read through my tips below to make for a more successful and enjoyable project! Trust me, your budget and family will thank me.
Consider what fabric you’re painting
The first thing I would recommend is that you consider what type of fabric you are going to paint. My couch happened to be 100% Polyester fabric. I’m talking like the fuzzy fabric that makes for a super cozy couch. This posed a bit of a problem for me when I started painting the couch because it absorbed the paint a bit differently than I had envisioned and researched. This type of fabric is NOT ideal to paint, BUT it can be done and I’ll show you how! There are other upholstery fabrics that would be much easier to paint because they aren’t “fuzzy.” If your fabric is tufted, you’ll want to be sure that as you are paining, you pull back the fabric to get all the creases in the fabric covered with paint.
Think about the time it will take to complete this project
The above issue also made this project take longer than I anticipated. You will also want to consider the time this project is going to take. For me, I have two toddlers at home and dedicate night hours to spend with my husband, so nap time was really the only time I could work on this project. I originally anticipated that this project would take me about 2 weeks to complete. Between 2-3 coats of paint, possible light sanding, and a furniture polish, that time frame seemed accurate….NO…it wasn’t! Due to the fabric I had to work with as well as the color I chose to paint this couch, I was not being realistic.
Choose your paint color wisely
Think about the color of paint you are choosing. I chose an off-white/peachy chalk paint for the color of this couch. Antique Rose from Magnolia chalk paint line is what I picked up from Lowe’s for this project.
The couch’s original fabric was a brown color with pink and green floral designs on it. I ended up needing about 6 coats of paint to get it fully covered and looking the way I wanted. That color definitely was NOT the best choice. I would recommend choosing a darker color than the original fabric to paint. Doing so will make this project so much quicker and enjoyable for you. Don’t follow in my footsteps with this mistake.
How to paint a couch
- To begin, you will want to get a spray bottle with water and thoroughly wet the fabric prior to painting it. Only spray a small section at a time so that the fabric doesn’t dry too quickly.
- You will dilute your chalk paint to be 1 part water and 1 part paint. Now, depending on the exact fabric you are working with, you may need to add a bit more water or use a bit less.
- Mix or shake the paint well once you combine it with water.
- Use a chalk paint brush to paint the fabric. Spray the fabric that you just painted to dilute the paint even further. Let each coat fully dry before you apply another coat. In most cases, you should only need 2-3 coats to achieve desired results.
- I would recommend getting sandpaper in either 400 or 600 grit and lightly sanding over all of the painted surfaces once you are finished painting. This will help to smooth out any rough spots.
- Dust off any paint you just sanded off with a microfiber towel. I recommend finishing the fabric off with a thin layer of a quality furniture wax and buff in with a paint brush or towel. This will help keep the couch looking nicer, longer.
- I used lemon essential oil and a butter knife to carefully remove a few, unwanted paint splatters that ended up on the wood portion of my couch during the painting process. Wipe the surface clean with a rag to remove the loose paint prices from the wood.
Does painting a couch change the texture of it?
When you paint a couch, it definitely is not going to be as soft as it once was. This is especially true if you are painting a fabric similar to the upholstery fabric that I painted. The fabric on my couch is a 100% polyester, fuzzy feeling fabric. The finished product of my couch after painting it is that of a slightly stiff, leather couch. Personally, I still think it is comfortable to sit on since it’s not like it is “hard.” Using enough water during the painting process will help ensure that the finished product doesn’t turn out too “stiff.”
Nonetheless, if this is something you are worried about, you may want to think twice about doing a project like this. Text the paint on a small, corner piece of the fabric to make sure you will like the end product before taking the time to paint the whole couch.
What I ended up doing with the couch cushions
Originally, when I first started this project I planned to paint the couch cushions as well. Once I spent two months painting just the couch, however, I quickly changed my mind. I instead decided to make some simple elastic slip covers for the cushions. The couch is close enough to the color that I chose for the fabric on the cushion covers, that I think it turned out well.
What material I used for sewing cushion covers
I will go into detail on a later blog post about how exactly I made the elastic slip covers. For now, you will just get a brief overview of what I used to achieve these slip covered cushions.
When deciding on what fabric to use for the cushion covers, I wanted to be sure I chose something that was easy to remove and clean. When you have small children in the house, this is a must! I also wanted to choose an option that was budget friendly, because frankly this project was already costing me more than I had originally planned.
For this reason, I chose to order a drop cloth and bleach it to make it white. This way it would match the couch and I could easily throw it in the wash and whiten it time and time again. The cushion slip covers I made use elastic on the bottom side so that it can be easily removed. I am not a professional when it comes to sewing, so I wanted to keep the slip covers as simple as possible. In other words, I didn’t want to deal with figuring out how to sew on a zipper!
My overall thoughts with how this project went
All in all I am super pleased with how this vintage couch turned out. I was able to keep the beautiful wood showing on the original couch, while updating the fabric to be more my style. Having vintage items in my home is something I have recently grown passionate about and my home is so much more cozy because of it!
I would do things a bit differently next time I chose to paint a piece of furniture. Now that I know what types of things to keep in mind, the next furniture painting project will turn out even better!
If you try this project, I’d love to hear how it turned out for you in the comments below!
More DIY projects from My Abiding Home:
- How To Make A Beeswax Wrap DIY
- How To Sew A Curtain DIY Tutorial
- How To Make Moisturizing Shea Body Butter
How to chalk paint a couch
- Paint brush Chalk painting brush recommended
- Spray bottle
- Chalk paint
- Stir stick
- Painters tape If there are parts of the couch you don't want painted.
- Furniture wax optional
- Isolate any areas you don't intend to paint with painters tape.
- Fill a spray bottle with water and thoroughly spray a small area on the fabric.
- Dilute your chalk paint with water to a 1 to 1 ratio.
- Dip your paint brush into the diluted paint and paint a thin layer onto your fabric. Be sure to move the brush in different directions to fully paint the fibers of the fabric.
- Allow to fully dry, then repeat until desired coverage is achieved.
- Once coverage is achieved, use a fine grit sand paper (400-600 grit) to gently remove any rough areas of paint on the fabric.
- Use a microfiber rag to remove any residual dust from fabric after sanding.
- *Optional- Use furniture wax to apply a thin layer and preserve the paint job even longer.