What are the Different Types of Upholstery Paint?

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  • Written By: Jesse Pompei
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Using upholstery paint to bring new life to a chair or sofa, without the expense of recovering the piece, can result in a masterpiece if the right type of paint is used. If not, the upholstery will become hard and unbendable. There are three types of upholstery paint available: a fabric spray paint, a latex paint that is mixed with a textile medium and a textile paint.

A fabric spray paint can be used to cover large areas quickly but might not be the best choice for adding precise details to the fabric. Another option is to mix a latex paint with a textile medium, which must be used in order to keep the fabric pliable. Textile mediums are available at craft and paint stores. Textile paints can be used for smaller details on the upholstery.

Fabric spray paint comes in a can just like a standard spray paint, but it is formulated specifically for upholstery. If unfamiliar with using spray paint, one can try practicing with another can of spray paint on a piece of cardboard to perfect the sweeping motion needed to achieve even coverage. The upholstery paint should be allowed to dry according to the directions on the can. The best type of fabric for spray paint is a medium-weight fabric with a smooth touch, such as cotton. A velvet-type fabric might become too stiff after application.


Using a combination of latex paint and a textile medium for upholstery paint will allow for a more precise application on the fabric, an option for applying small details or designs. Different textile mediums have different ratios of paint to medium, so the directions must be followed correctly. After it has been mixed, the upholstery paint can be applied with any paintbrush and should be applied in even, thin coats to avoid saturating the fabric. If more than one color is used on the upholstery, each color should be allowed to dry thoroughly to avoid smudging. A second coat might be necessary after drying.

Textile paint also is a type of upholstery paint. If one is using textile paint, the upholstery should be professionally cleaned before application. In a similar fashion to the latex paint mix, the textile paint is applied with a brush, but it needs to be heat-set. Heat-setting a textile paint can be done with an iron, a heat gun or a hair dryer. Textile paints probably will give the upholstery the softest results of the three choices.

Using upholstery paint to freshen an existing piece of furniture can be a fun, inexpensive alternative to re-upholstery or purchasing new furniture. Directions for each method must be followed according to the product in order for the best results to be achieved. As with any spray paint, the fabric spray paint must be applied in an area that is well ventilated, preferably outside.


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I have painted patio cushions using delta ceramic medium, using a heat gun what is the litmus test to know when to move to the next cushion? -- Robert, Tennessee

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