How To Spray Paint Vinyl Upholstery

updated Dec 19, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Sometimes, chairs come into our lives. It’s all very casual: we don’t really love them, but we kind of like them, and they were just there at the yard sale, and they were cheap and we could kind of see potential… So we bring them home with us only to realize that we will never actually pay the price to have them reupholstered—they get stashed away in the basement or the garage. But if they are vinyl, it doesn’t have to end there!

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

I’m very guilty of bringing home stray chairs, so every season I try to purge my basement/garage/storage area to keep things from getting totally out of control. My little white chair almost didn’t make the cut this time, but I decided to keep it to test out the vinyl spray paint I’d picked up at the hardware store.

I had reservations about the paint actually working, but figured the chair was on it’s way out so there wasn’t really any risk in it. It took time, and quite a bit of effort in the way of taping off the welting, but I’m happy with the end results and can now say the chair has a happy place in the front room!

What You Need



(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

1. Throughly clean the vinyl surface with soap and water and let air dry.

2. Tape off any parts of the chair you don’t want painted like legs or hardware. You can also use plastic bags to cover the majority of the surface area and hold them in place with the painters tape.

3. Move outdoors, or to a well ventilated area such as a garage or patio to paint. The smell is really bad, so be sure to protect your lungs and wear a respirator or dust mask.

4. As with all spray paint, shake the can vigorously for 1 minute prior to painting. Hold the can 10-12″ away from the surface and move it back and forth along the length of the fabric. It’s really easy to get streaks when painting vinyl, so be patient! Apply multiple, light coats of paint to ensure an even, streak free surface. And remember to shake your can often!

Dry time: Depending on the environment you’re painting in, the vinyl will be ready to handle in about an hour, however, your going to want to let it dry for at least 24-48 hours before actually using it.

If you plan to add a second paint color, move on to the next step.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

5. With your painters tape, cover up all areas next to the welting. If you are using a brush-on paint then you can start painting the welting, but if like me you decided to make your life difficult and use another spray paint, well then, get out the plastic bags and prepare to tape just about everything.

It may look like I did things a bit backwards here, as I could have first sprayed the entire chair with the teal paint, including the welting, and later used just a bit of tape to cover the welting from the final white coat, but I was concerned that the dark color of the welting would bleed through the white of the chair. Additionally, the paint I choose for the welting was not indented specifically for vinyl (it was intended for fabrics, plastic, and paper!), so I didn’t want to chance it ruining the finish.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

6. Now that you have your under layer completely covered, spray over the exposed welting the the same color paint that you just covered the chair in. This layer, once dry, will seal off any edges and protect the second color from bleeding, giving you really nice, clean lines.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

7. Hold your can 10-12″ away from the fabric and paint over the exposed welting.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

8. Let the paint dry completely, then remove the plastic and tape. Keep the plastic and tape away from the chair as you pull it up so that none of the colors have a chance to rub off on your first layer.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Admire your “new” chair at just a fraction of the cost of an upholstery job!

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

I’ve only had my chair for about a two weeks, so I can’t attest to the quality of the paint (cracking, flaking etc) but I think for a chair that never really got much action in the first place, it’s a great way to give it a facelift!

Have a really great DIY project or tutorial that you want to share with others? Let us know! We love checking out what you’re making these days, and learning from our readers. When you’re ready, click here to submit your project and photos.