Do you have great dining room chairs, but no longer love the color? This tutorial will teach you how to strip, paint, and recover your chairs! Just follow these easy step-by-step instructions to give your chairs a big makeover!
I feel like this post has been in the works FOREVER! Ever since we inherited a bunch of furniture this past year, I’ve been dreaming of giving each piece a fresh, new makeover, and my dining room chairs were at the top of my list! Here’s a look at what I started with…
Great chairs. Beautiful curves. Lovely carved details. Vintage white floral fabric… Yeeeeah, did I mention I have two boys under the age of 8? There is just no keeping vintage white fabric clean when there are two messy boys involved! So I knew the dirty, stained fabric on the chairs had to go, and I figured I might as well get the chairs painted while I was at it. The painting process seemed SO daunting to me, and I must have Googled hundreds of pages searching the right way to do it. Through a bit of trial and error, I found what worked best for me, and I wanted to share everything I learned with you so you can do it too!
First I figured out where would be the best place to work on the chairs. I wanted to do them outside, but out here in the country the wind can be pretty fierce. So I decided to turn our open-sided shed into my makeshift painting studio. I found a long folding table in our basement and drug it out to the barn to use as a stand for my chairs. It’s a lot easier to work under the chairs this way! I also covered the table in a plastic painter’s cloth and grabbed a few spare blocks of wood to set underneath each of the chair legs. This way the paint wouldn’t stick the chair and cloth together!
I flipped the chairs upside down on the table and removed the screws above each leg to detach the seat cushion. Make sure you keep the screws in a safe place together with the cushions!
I wanted to remove the old finish from the chairs and start with a fresh new coat of white, so I purchased a can of Strip Fast Power Stripper from Zinsser. With some of the curves and details on this chair, I knew it would be difficult to sand the entire piece down to prep it for paint, so I figured stripping it down to the bare wood was my best bet. And it worked like a charm!
Make sure you cover anything you don’t want sprayed and do this in a well ventilated area! I liberally sprayed the stripper onto every surface of the chair and let it sit for about 10 minutes. You can see in the picture below how the old finish bubbles up! Then I used a plastic scraper to scrape away the old finish, leaving the beautiful raw wood behind. It’s a glorious process! After I scraped all the old stuff off, I wiped the chairs down with Zinsser’s Stripper Washer to remove any remaining residue. I love that it dried almost instantly and left the chairs perfectly clean and ready for paint!
Here’s where it gets interesting: When I first started this process, I decided spray paint would be the best option for painting the chairs. Again, all the curves and details would take forever to paint with a brush, and I’m just not that patient! I found the perfect shade of white (not too white, not too ivory) in a satin finish at Lowe’s and painted my first two coats on the chairs. After weeks of trips back to Lowe’s with no luck finding the same color spray paint, I decided it was time to invest in a paint sprayer! These poor chairs were seriously sitting in my barn for almost a month!
The first sprayer I bought was the Wagner Power Painter Plus, and I couldn’t wait to bring it home and try it out! I carefully read the directions, filled it up, and started spraying. No matter what setting I adjusted it to, huge amounts of paint came spraying out causing little beads of paint everywhere instead of a nice, smooth finish. By the time I went over the chairs enough to try to even everything out, the paint was running everywhere down my chairs, and I ended up in a ball of tears! I had been waiting WEEKS to finish these chairs, and now they looked horrible! The next day I got over my pity and exchanged the sprayer for an upgraded version, the Wagner Flexio 590 Sprayer. I think there were angels singing as I walked out of Lowe’s with this baby!
It has so many more adjustable settings than the first sprayer and even has a second attachment made specifically for the fine finish I was looking for! It sprayed like a dream! After sanding down my drippy paint spots from before, I was able to finish painting with my new sprayer in no time flat. I used my favorite white paint, Olympic Heirloom Lace. After the paint was completely dry, I sprayed a few coats of Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Satin to protect the chairs. Using the Polycrylic ensures your white paint won’t turn yellow!
Moral of the story: if you’re planning on refinishing multiple pieces of furniture, it is a fantastic investment to purchase a paint sprayer! Just do NOT buy a cheap one or you will be sadly disappointed! Your husband will not appreciate the sobs he has to listen to… trust me : )
Now we’re onto recovering the chair cushions! As I said before, with two little boys eating on these chairs, I knew pretty fabric was not a great option for us. Even if I found a pretty durable fabric, I knew I would be a wreck every time they sit down with a big bowl of spaghetti, so I went in search of a better option! You know what I came up with… Marine Vinyl. It’s like the stuff you would cover boat seats with! I figure if this stuff could withstand wet bathing suits, sun, and wind, it would surely hold up to what my boys will put it through! No matter what spills may happen, I can just wipe these seats right off! This marine vinyl is PERFECT for families with little ones! I found the vinyl at Joann’s, and it comes in a variety of colors. It’s not too badly priced with a coupon either!
These chair cushions had at least 3 or 4 layers of fabric stapled to them over the years, so I removed most of them down to the bottom layer. The seat padding was still in pretty good shape, so I left that alone. I used one of the pieces of fabric I removed from the chair as a template for cutting my vinyl. I centered a seat cushion on one of my cut pieces of vinyl and wrapped the vinyl over the cushion. I put a staple into each side, pulling the vinyl taut as I stapled. Then I worked each corner until I got it to lay as flat as possible and stapled everything in place. Since this vinyl is much thicker than fabric, it takes a bit of finesse, but it’s really not a hard to do!
And now… after weeks of waiting… here’s my newly-refinished chairs!!
I made these sweet little pillows with some fabric I found at Hobby Lobby. I love the design and how well it ties together the white, ivory, and gray colors!
And now this sunny little nook in my kitchen is complete!
Wouldn’t you love to sit and have some coffee with me here? It’s the perfect spot to read a good book and enjoy all the sunshine coming in from the windows!
So tell me what you think! Do you like the new look of the chairs? Do you like the idea of using vinyl instead of fabric? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Check out more projects from our kitchen makeover:
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