an opinion piece on painted upholstery

Marian Parsonsupholstery

I’m often asked for my opinion on painted upholstery, which I usually field as they come, but I decided I would finally share my opinion in a post.

Before I share my opinion on the subject, let me say that I get it.  As an unabashed paint enthusiast, I get it.  You have an old sofa or chair that’s in good shape, but the fabric is ugly or totally the wrong color or has seen better days.  You have no interest in sewing a slipcover or delving into the world of upholstery.  And you just can’t afford a replacement right now.  So, painting it is tempting.


Second, I know that you can paint a piece of upholstery.  Many people have done it and I admire them for having the guts to do it!

For me, though, I’m not going to be painting an upholstered piece any time soon.

Now, there are a couple of cases where I would just say, “Go for it!”

1.) If you have a hand-me-down piece of furniture that you couldn’t possibly hate any more than you already do.

2.) If you’re using the piece just for the look of it, like for a photo prop.

So, why am I not personally a fan of that route?

1.)  It may make a piece look better cosmetically, but it’s not really adding value to the piece.  If anything, it’s devaluing it.  I know this is funny coming from someone who paints a bunch of antique wood furniture, but painting wood is different.  Wood can be stripped.  Painting a piece of upholstery is not easily undone.

2.) When you’re painting a piece of upholstery with the batting and foam underneath, you’re only seeing what’s happening on the surface.  The paint that is seeping down into the batting and/or foam is going to be a real mess and will end up being more costly if you ever want to have the piece properly reuphosltered (or do it yourself) in the future.


In the end, it’s your piece of furniture and if you want to paint it, then paint it, especially if you have nothing to lose.  My opinion is just my opinion and this isn’t a case of right of wrong.

What are your thoughts on painting upholstery?  Any success stories?  Failures?  Tips?

an opinion piece on painted upholstery

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