I’m excited to teach you guys my favorite technique for how to paint a chair. This technique is super simple, and I promise to walk you through step by step how to refinish a chair, or any piece of furniture, for that matter. These chairs originally belonged to my great-great Aunt. I absolutely LOVE that they are a family heirloom, and I like to think that my sweet Aunt Norma would be proud of the way I refinished them.
Antique chairs are amazing! Look at the shape of this chair, and the detail. You just can’t find that kind of chair at Target, my friends… although let’s be honest, Target is awesome! But, these are one of a kind, truly vintage chairs, and I’m thrilled with how they turned out. I love the way I painted these chairs.
Doesn’t the before and after look awesome! I love a good before and after shot!
The number one question I get when people ask me about refinishing furniture is what paint to use when you are planning to paint a chair, a table, a bench, or anything. I pretty much always use DecoArt’s Americana Chalky Paint. It is FANTASTIC, people! This is chalk paint- not to be confused with chalkBOARD paint. You won’t be able to write on this with chalk, but rather, it has a really thick, chalk-like consistency.
(PS- this is not a sponsored post, I just really like this chalk paint- but I do earn some commission if you buy this paint using my Amazon link (click here), and it’s actually about a dollar less than if you bought it at the craft store, so I would appreciate if you bought it using my link.)
Here are some reasons I’m IN LOVE with this paint, and why it’s the only paint I use on my furniture.
- No prepping. You don’t have to sand your furniture down or use a primer first. The only prep work you need to do on your furniture is making sure it’s clean- I simply wipe it down to get off any grease, dust, or dirt.
- The thick consistency is perfect to help the paint stick and stay put! I’m not lying when I say I’ve used this paint on a dozen pieces of furniture (my farmhouse bench, my kids’ toy chest, my farmhouse desk, my wreath display, and my rustic farmhouse signs)
- You can use this paint on more than just furniture and wood. You can paint glass, metal, fabric, pretty much anything with it. I have painted mason jars with this paint, and it turns out SO cute! These jars by The Crafted Sparrow were my inspiration!
- No special finish required. I love that after you paint your chair (or whatever), you don’t have to use any special lacquer or finishing spray. There is a wax you can use after you’re done painting. The wax is designed to protect the paint from chipping or scratching, but I’ve found that my paint is super durable without it. The only time I use the wax is if I know the piece of furniture is going to get a lot of wear and tear and heavy usage. For instance, a table top would probably need some wax. If your chairs are going to be handled a lot, you might want to use some wax. I did a little test here with these chairs and only waxed two of the four chairs I finished, and I honestly cannot tell you which chairs I waxed and which I didn’t. **edited to add- these chairs were painted 3 years ago, and they are still holding up, and I still can’t tell which chairs have wax.
- No odor and easy cleanup. I almost always paint inside, and with my kids. I feel good about using this chalk paint because it doesn’t have any odor or fumes. And it cleans up SOO well. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve got this paint on my clothes, and I’ve pretty much always been able to wash it off with plain water. Amazing!
Ok, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what you need to paint a chair, and how to paint your furniture.
- Chalky paint (it’s a good price here on Amazon)
- High quality natural bristle brush.
- Wax– optional (see above)- if you do use wax, you’ll only need about half as much wax as you need paint. For example, 8 ounces of paint and 4 ounces of wax.
- Cheesecloth to apply the wax.
- 100 grit Sandpaper– optional, only use if distressing
- To paint a chair, you start by prepping your furniture. That means wipe off the dust from Grandma’s basement and putty & sand any imperfections. If you have any paint chipping off, rub all that you can off. And yes, that is all the prep work you have to do.
- You cannot paint a chair if it’s dirty- it doesn’t matter what paint you use, it won’t stick. So get a bucket of water with a few drops of dish soap and wash your furniture with a washcloth. Once your furniture is clean and dry, grab a brush and go for it! Natural bristle brushes are the best- I really recommend this brush and have used it on a million projects. It washes up good, and it’s totally worth the money to buy a high quality brush.
A few tips for painting:
- Long, even brush strokes are best way to paint a chair- or any piece of furniture for that matter.
- Use a good amount of paint. Don’t be afraid to get a good coat of paint on the furniture.
- This paint dries fast, so just brush it on quickly and leave it. Don’t keep brushing over and over the paint, or else it will get all clumpy and you’ll leave lots of brush strokes. If you want to do more than one coat, let it dry first before applying your second coat.
- The paint is super thick, as it is designed to make your furniture look hand-painted, not like it came straight from the factory. So it may show brush strokes, especially if you mess with it a lot. If the paint is too thick for your liking, add a little water, and it won’t show your brush strokes as much. A little water won’t hurt the paint at all. It may be easier to handle if it’s thinned down a little, but you’ll most likely have to do 2 coats.
- If you’re really worried about brush strokes, try spraying the paint on. I have this paint sprayer designed for at-home use, and I love it! I got it after I painted probably my 20th piece of furniture, and I wish I had it for my first piece. A paint sprayer is definitely not a necessity, but it’s something nice to have if you’re planning on painting a lot. I think it’s worth every penny- about $50 on Amazon. And the nicest part is absolutely NO brush strokes- but watch those drips!
- After your first coat dries, apply a second coat if needed.
- This step is completely optional. After you paint, you can decide if you want to distress your furniture. I was honestly on the fence with this. Once it was freshly painted, I didn’t know if I wanted to scuff up my chairs… but I decided to do it, and it really added a lot of character to the chairs. To distress, I used a heavy grit sandpaper (100 grit) to take a bit of paint off here or there.
- In the photo below, you can see that my chairs had been painted a mint green color before, so when I distressed, that color showed through. I think it added a charming touch. If you like this look, you can paint your chair whatever color you’d like to peek through first, before you paint your finishing color.
- This step is optional. You can skip this next step altogether if you’d like, but I wanted a super smooth finish on my chairs, so I took a very fine, 400 grit sanding sponge and sanded my chairs lightly. Actually, sanding is probably the wrong word here. This technique more like polishes the paint and smooths out any imperfections or brush strokes. If you are planning to do this, two coats would be necessary first.
- I’ve showed you how to paint a chair. The choice is yours: you can be done as you are, or you can do the optional finishing step- Waxing. Like I said above, the only time I use the wax is if I know the piece of furniture is going to get a lot of wear and tear and heavy usage. The wax doesn’t hurt anything, but I’m lazy and like to avoid extra steps if I can. You can always add the wax later if you notice more wear and tear than you’d like.
- I’ll show you this step just in case you decide to wax. I’m using DecoArt’s Clear Wax.
- Take your brush and dip it into the wax. The wax reminds me of Crisco. It is soft and kind of creamy looking. You just need a little bit on the end of your brush. It goes a LONG way. Just dab and rub the wax over the entire thing. You want to really rub it into the paint. I’ve heard people say to pretend like it’s hand cream, and kind of massage it into the paint.
- Then using cheesecloth, rub the excess wax off. The wax shouldn’t feel tacky at all, so if it does keep on buffing. Wait another 24 hours for the wax to harden and you can really buff the chair up with a clean cheesecloth to give it a good shine.
That’s all! I know I’ve shared a lot of information on how to paint a chair, but hopefully it didn’t seem too overwhelming. If you have any questions, read the comments below, I’ve answered some there. Or leave me a new comment and I’ll make sure to answer!
Thank you so much for reading my tutorial for how to paint a chair. If you liked this tutorial, you might also like some of my other furniture tutorials:
Hand Lettered Rustic Farmhouse Sign
How to make a rustic farmhouse sign with a Sharpie
Farmhouse Buffet free building plans
Shiplap Wreath Display & Farmhouse Desk
How to install Board & Batten the easy way
Build a farmhouse bench for under $20
Farmhouse Coffee Table (Ikea Hack)
DIY Pallet Art (without using a pallet)
Hi ! I hope you see this comment, itâ€™s been awhile !So with an 8oz.can of paint ,you were able to paint 4 chairs ? It goes along way then ? Am I reading this correctly? Thanks !
Natalie Dalpias says
Yes, I was able to paint just the frame of the chairs. If you had to paint the seat, you would need more paint, of course.
Cecilia from Georgia says
I just found your post and since it has been 2 years since you painted your chairs, I am currious as to how the chalk paint has held up for you. I am trying to get the nerve to paint my mahogony chairs but not sure if I should prep them with shelac or some kind of undercoat. Do you recommed doing anything different since so many new products have come out over the past 2 years? I love chalk paint but the new Fusion paint is looking good too. I would appreciate any ideas you have.
Natalie Dalpias says
The chairs have held up remarkably well. I have been very happy with the quality and durability of the paint. The fabric on the seat cushions, though, have not held up as well to 4 kids- haha! After several years of use, I can say that I would definitely still recommend using this method!
Thanks for the comment!
About how many chairs were you able to paint with one can?
Natalie Dalpias says
I was able to paint 4 chairs with one can, and I had a little bit left over.
Absolutely love those chairs – that fleur de lys design is just wonderful and you’ve given them a new lease on life
Kathy Riddle says
I learned it is OK to wax then sand. No dust residue that way.
Paula Prislovsky says
Love Love your chairs! Of all the paint colors, I believe that the Old white is the hardest to get the color on like I would like it. But when done….. Amazing
Maybe a silly question but how do you buff the small crevices of the chair or the whole chair for that matter?
The finished product looks great by the way!
i just LOVE this!! I found your tutorial while searching for tips on chair painting with Annie Sloan paint! This is perfect!
Your chairs are beautiful, your aunt would be proud!
They look fabulous Nat! Love them!
Shirley @ Intelligent Domestications says
Your chairs turned out beautiful! Thanks for this information. I have a chair I’d like to refinish also. I like the fact that this paint doesn’t require prep work!! Your Grandma’s chairs really do have character, you will always be able to cherish those now.
I really love how they turned out!!! I must know where you found that fabric!!! 😉
Natalie Dalpias says
Thanks Amy! It’s printed Duck Cloth. I found it it Hobby Lobby.
Lovely work Natalie!! We carry this Premier Prints Embrace storm twill fabric too, Amy 🙂 http://www.onlinefabricstore.net/premier-prints-embrace-storm-twill-fabric-.htm
Marlys @Thisand That says
These look wonderful. I have a couple of old chairs that I bought for next to nothing that I want to redo… Now I want to do them even more that I see these.