How to Paint Upholstery

Painting upholstery is an inexpensive way to update a piece of furniture quickly.

Painting Upholstery with Fabric Spray Paint

As of 2009, there are two methods used to paint upholstery: fabric spray paint or latex paint mixed with a textile medium. Fabric spray paint is specifically formulated for use on upholstery, but it can be expensive to use on a large piece of furniture. Latex paint mixed with a textile medium is less expensive and easier to use, but don't skip the textile medium. This additive will help the upholstery remain supple after it is painted. .

Clean the upholstery thoroughly using a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment. Remove any stains that are present on the area to be painted, and allow the upholstery to dry completely before proceeding.

Use painter's tape and newspaper to section off any areas on the piece of furniture that should not be painted. Use a drop cloth to protect the floor and other items in the room.

Paint the upholstery with the fabric spray paint using a slightly sweeping motion. Keep the nozzle of the can about 8 inches away from the surface of the upholstery.

Remove the painter's tape and newspaper. Allow the upholstery to dry completely before using the piece of furniture.

Painting Upholstery With Latex Paint

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust or dirt from the upholstery. Using painter's tape and newspaper, cover any areas on the piece that should not be painted.

Mix the textile medium and the latex paint together. The proportions of textile medium to paint vary depending on the manufacturer, so read the directions on the medium carefully.

Using a paint brush, apply the paint and textile medium mixture to the upholstery. Avoid saturating the upholstery; try to apply a thin, even coat. Allow the piece of furniture to dry thoroughly.

Apply another coat of paint if needed. Remove the painter's tape and newspaper, and allow the piece to dry for at least 24 hours before using.

Things You Will Need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Painter's tape
  • Newspaper
  • Drop cloth
  • Fabric spray paint
  • Textile medium
  • Latex paint
  • Paint brush


  • Keep in mind that medium-weight fabrics with a smooth texture are best suited for this project. Fabrics such as velvet may become stiff after being painted. Try practicing your spray-painting technique on a piece of cardboard with inexpensive spray paint. This will help you avoid an uneven paint job on the finished product.


  • Make sure that you are working in a well-ventilated area to prevent excessive fume inhalation. If you are using spray paint, wear a face mask and try painting outside on a calm day.

About the Author

Amy A. Whittle is a freelance writer who specializes in home improvement, green living and pet care issues. Her work has been published by Woman's Day.com, the Huffington Post and other online and print publications.