Is it Possible to Dye Upholstered Furniture?

It's great to give a room in your home a makeover, and this often includes customizing furniture already in your possession. But what can be done about that ugly brocade couch from college or that strange wingback chair? Dyeing your furniture might be an option, with a few considerations and caveats.

Furniture Types

Furniture and items with removable fabrics such as couch and chair cushions are best suited to coloring or dying as most dyes require rinsing.  Solid leather or vinyl pieces are also easy to dye.

Textile Types

Most cloth-like furnishings are covered with a blend of materials, and uneven coloration can occur.  Natural fibers such as cotton will take dye easily and evenly. Leathers and vinyls allow for easy application and a smooth finish. 

Upholstery-Specifc Dyes

Vinyl and leather typically require an aniline or vinyl-based dye that will not harm the material when used.  These dyes are available in a variety of pigments. Cotton and natural fabrics can be dyed with readily available Rit dye or high-quality natural dyes.  Silk, wool and nylon are delicate fabrics that are often sensitive to water.

Working with Upholstery Dye

A large workspace is of utmost importance when coloring furniture.  Applying dye to leathers and vinyls are sometimes as easy as point-and-shoot, though you will want to ensure your flooring has been protected by a tarp and that you allow for proper ventilation.

Other Upholstery Options

If a piece of furniture is not suitable for dyeing, consider purchasing a bolt of fabric and creating your own slipcovers.  Fabric paint can be used to give a wash of overall color or create detailed patterns and other effects.

About the Author

Jennifer Van Leigh began writing short pieces in 2007. With over five years in the hair industry, Van Leigh has contributed articles at Atlanta Salon & Spa and is certified as an extensions stylist. She studied scriptwriting and creative nonfiction in Gallery 37, a Chicago youth arts program.