Update Fabric with Homemade Chalk Paint

I have to admit that halfway through this project even I was a little nervous. I mean, what was I thinking taking a paint brush to fabric? But I’m here to tell you that the outcome is so much better than I ever could have imagined. I would — and will — paint fabric again (and again).

How to paint an ottoman

I know what you’re thinking: the fabric must be hard as a rock, right? Wrong! It feels a little like smooth leather. It certainly has a stiffer feel than the fabric did pre-paint but it’s not how you think. Believe me, I was skeptical too!

I think the makeover is pretty dramatic. This ottoman was left by the previous owner of our house and I stowed it away in the attic thinking, one day, I’m going to do something with this. Here is the ottoman before its makeover (as you can see, the fabric was pretty faded and stained):

Ottoman Before a Makeover

Here’s a list of the products/supplies I used:

  • DAP Plaster of Paris
  • Valspar flat latex paint
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Fine grit sandpaper (I used 600)
  • Tarp and newspaper to cover floor
  • Paint brush

The first thing I did was spot clean the fabric and then vacuum the entire ottoman. Next, I mixed the homemade chalk paint. I mixed 2 parts warm water with 1 part DAP Plaster of Paris. Once thoroughly mixed, I added 3 parts latex paint. I used flat interior latex paint that I had leftover from another project. You may have seen one of my past projects that also used chalk paint and noticed that my recipe changed a bit. It did! When painting fabric, water is very important so I added more than usual. Which brings me to the next valuable tool: a spray bottle. I filled a spray bottle from the dollar store with room temperature water. This was my constant companion throughout the process.

Now for the painting. I sprayed one section of the ottoman with water until it was damp (I started with the top) and then began painting (I used a 1″ inch brush so I could get the paint in the nooks and crannies around the piping and on the seams) in one direction, using paint sparingly. To avoid cracking, it’s best to apply numerous thin coats of paint rather than using a heavy hand. I allowed each coat of paint to dry completely before beginning again in this order: spray water, paint, allow to dry. Fabric requires many coats of paint (I think I did 4 coats?) so pack your patience and lots of water. And just know that it will look terrible during the process and you will question your project many times. I know I did! This is what it looked like partway through the first coat:

Awful, right? I was questioning everything at this point. But stay with it! Once you have covered the entire ottoman and the fabric has dried completely, use 600 grit sandpaper to sand the fabric in one direction. The sandpaper will remove some of the grit of the Plaster of Paris and smooth the surface. Next vacuum the entire surface to remove all dust. Now for the final touch. I used a lint-free cloth to apply Americana Decor’s Clear Creme Wax from Home Depot. I applied the wax generously and then buffed it off after it dried. The results are amazing and it is super soft! I wish there was a “touch” button in this post but I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Painted Ottoman with Homemade Chalk Paint

Painted Fabric Ottoman

Now, I have no idea what will happen long-term with this technique. I’m anxious to find out though because I have my designs on a wing chair with a wild pattern from the 1960s next. But I think I’ll wait and see what the ottoman does — or doesn’t do. And of course, I’ll give you an update!


Note: If you have an ever-present furry companion as I do, this project will drive you crazy from beginning to end. Like nearly everything I have painted, there are a few rogue dog hairs that I simply couldn’t remove. You’re welcome to all who own one of my fine pieces of dog fur 🙂

Tillie Helping Me Paint

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