Painting Fabric with Chalk Type Paint

by Team MD


DIY fans will always like projects that involve chalk paint, and if you need to know more about painting fabric with chalk paint, this quick guide is here to give you a head start. It’s not that difficult; you only need the right tools and patience. So let’s get straight to the task at hand.


Making preparations

Of course, to begin painting something, you need the necessary equipment and supplies. In this case, you will have to buy some chalk-style paint, water, a paintbrush, painter’s tape, and sandpaper. Additionally, to make everything easier you should look for a drop cloth to protect your work area so that you don’t have to clean too much afterward.

As the case is with most DIY projects, preparation is an important step in the process, if you want a nicely-finished product at the end. You must allocate some minutes to prepare the surface. When painting wood you want to clean it first, remove any residual wax, or other products that may prevent you from giving it a neat finish.

But when it comes to materials, the process can take longer. Examine the fabric patiently and look for any places that you need to especially prepare. Residue of any type will often accumulate on something like the fabric of a chair or couch, so make sure you remove that. Residue interferes with the paint adhering and prevents you from giving a good finish.

Using a scrub brush and mild detergent, proceed to clean residue spots before actually beginning to paint. The good part is that, once you remove them, even if the spots remain wet, you don’t need to let them dry – you can just paint over them.

There is another method that you can use when painting these areas – you can put a light coat of paint on top of them at first, sort of a primer, and once that layer dries, you can proceed to paint the entire piece as if the stains were never there. This might not work in some cases, depending on the stains.

If you want an even cleaner piece, you should also vacuum the fabric to make sure that there is no dust or dirt that still sits there and that can hinder the paint. The final step is to use the tape to cover spots where you don’t want the paint to get. A bit of tape will protect the most important spots, if you are painting a really important piece, and will allow you to focus on the rest of the fabric.


Getting started

One of the advantages when painting fabric with chalk type paint is that you don’t need to use fabric medium. However, you will still need to thin the paint a bit, and that is why you need water. The process is a simple one, fortunately, as you just have to dip the brush in some water and then brush the water on the fabric.

Remember, you want the fabric to be a bit wet but not saturated, otherwise, the paint won’t get into it. Water is used to open the pores, the fibers, so that paint can get in deeper, and not only sit on top of the material like a crust. You have to do this for the first layer of paint only. An easier way to do this is by using a spray bottle to lightly mist the fabric.

When painting fabric it is imperative that you work in different sections and you do your best to move along those sections. When painting a wall you have to keep a wet edge, and the same principle applies here. If you would allow the paint to dry and then came back to paint over it, that would leave lap marks.

If you, however, dampen the fabric with some water, you can avoid this. You might be tempted to get heavy-handed and cover the pattern underneath, but this will not be a good choice, as the fabric will become hard. Work in thin layers, as these are best for the final texture, and they also dry faster, letting you move along the process faster.

Remember to let the first layer dry for at least 20 minutes. When the paint is dry it will initially be scratchy and unpleasant to touch, but that is not something you should worry about. 


Applying additional layers

Now that you put the first layer of paint on, you will need to actually sand it before you can add the next layer. You can use 100 grit sandpaper for this purpose, but harsher might also work if you have a soft hand. But you don’t want the sandpaper to be finer than this because it will make you work more than needed.

Again, clean everything up with a vacuum or anything else before proceeding to the next step. Adding the next layer of paint will not imply you diluting it again, as it needs to cover the first layer. If you, however, feel that it is going to be too heavy, you can water it down, but don’t put water on the already-painted fabric again, as that would undo the first coat.

Allow the second layer to dry after you have applied it. It might take longer than the first layer if the paint is thicker. After that, repeat the sanding and the vacuum steps, but make sure you give the paint enough time to dry out.

Now that you finished adding the second layer of paint, you can proceed to add some details. Using paint of different colors you can go on and create interesting patterns. Or you can leave it like that, it’s your choice.


Stripes, a difficult task

Now, if you want to add some details such as stripes, you will face a difficult task of being really precise with your strokes. For this process to be successful, you need to let the fabric dry completely, to make sure the accents are easy to place. Painter’s tape will come in really handy here. You could cover the entire surface that you don’t want to paint with it.

But then again, this is why the paint needs to be dried for real because the tape might take it away otherwise when you pull it off. Using something like a stencil will require you to leave the paint to dry for at least 24 hours, and if you can, even longer.

Fortunately, if you want to add stripes, the design process is a fairly simple one – you just need to place the tape well. Determine the spacing you need between the stripes and then proceed to apply the painter’s tape to the fabric. Once that is done, make sure you have pressed the tape down as best as you could (this is why letting the paint dry is so important, because you will be scratching it a bit).

You need to avoid any kind of gaps between the paint and the tape, or creases, or any other way the new paint can seep under the placed tape. After that, you are finally ready to add the accents – start applying plain paint, not diluted, and once you’re done with your model, allow it to dry.

At the end of the process, you can finally sand everything, and heavy sandpaper is not recommended for this step. Some people choose not to use sandpaper at all because they like the feel of detailed elements sticking out.


Must-know facts about chalk paint

If you are going to use chalk paint for a variety of purposes, you need to know how it works. When talking about drying time, technically, this paint dries really fast on fabric, in most cases in 15 or 20 minutes. However, this is only the dry to touch feeling, meaning that the paint is not actually totally set or cured.

The curing happens when all teh liquid evaporates and the fabric has fully given into the treatment. While the piece of fabric might feel dry after a mere hour, it might actually take a couple of weeks for it to be really dry.

Another good thing to know about chalk paint is that you don’t need to apply too many coats when using it. Try to put a maximum of 3 coats on your fabric, to allow it to retain some of its flexibility and shape. You can always apply an additional coat of wax if you feel that is required, but it is only recommended to apply it in small areas, only for the effect.

Chalk paint covered in wax will be more resistant against stains and water, especially in the first months. If you are wondering what kinds of fabric are the best for painting with chalk type paint, the good news is that they are almost all suitable for this job. Thinks like cotton, silk, denim, and polyester will be very good for this, as well as a fabric that has a tight weave. Leather, vinyl, fake leather, and things like that will work wonders. But remember, it all depends on your skill and patience.


Related Posts