Painting Fabric with Milk Paint

I scored these chairs on a Facebook buy and sell page awhile ago. They were purchased with the sole purpose of  painting the fabric. Crazy I know. I figured if it didn’t work out, I would re-upholster them and call it a day.


Well let me tell you, painting fabric isn’t as simple as I figured it would be. I had just received an order of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint and although I had never used Milk Paint before, thought painting micro fibre fabric would be a good starting point. Insane, I know. Big thing to note here is that you want to mix milk paint exactly how it tells you on the package, 1 minute of mixing equal parts powder and water, 10 minutes rest & 1 more minute of mixing. This is HUGE. That 10 minute wait? It allows the powder and pigment to break down and really give you the color you’re looking for. I chose Marzipan for the chairs which is essentially a creamy white. Other than wiping the chairs down with a damp cloth to remove any dust and masking off the material from the frame, I did 0 prep.

There is not a lot in the way of painting material with Milk Paint on the www, but there is a ton when it comes to painting with Chalk Paint and Acrylic Paint. This project was extremely trial and error.

Here’s what I used for materials:

  • Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint
  • Soft Bristled Brush
  • 300-400 grit sanding block
  • Clear Wax
  • Frog Tape

Using the brush I brushed on the milk paint in a thin coat. If you are using any other paint, they advise you to spray a misting of water on the fabric prior to your first coat. I opted to skip this step and honestly I don’t know that it would have made a huge difference in how the first coat went on if I had done it. Milk paint adheres really well to raw material, so the first coat sucked up pretty good. I did find though that it covered quite well for how light the color was compared to original color of the fabric. As it dried the material on the chair stiffened up quite a bit.


I waited a full 24 hours before applying a second coat to the chair and when I did, it covered a lot better. It looks pretty shiny in the picture below because I snapped it when the paint was still wet. Once it dries it dulls itself out a bit. 


This next step is pretty key and is what will make your chair inviting to sit on. You need to sand it down. Wait of course until your paint is completely dried, then take a fine grit sand paper in a light color and lightly sand the whole thing down. You will notice a big difference in texture once you do this. It almost feels like leather once it’s sanded down. One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re painting with a light color, use a light colored grit sand paper. I made the mistake of using a dark color at the onset and it made the paint look dirty on the chair.


Not exactly the look I was going for. At first I thought it gave it an old weathered look and figured it would grow on me, but over the course of a couple of days I knew it wasn’t going to work. It looked TOO ‘dirty’.

Honestly, at this point I was ready to throw in the towel & spend whatever I needed for nice material to recover the damn thing. So I did what any sane DIY’er would do. I put the project aside for a couple of weeks and worked on other things.

No one likes a quitter thought, right?

The next batch of paint I mixed up I used a 2:1 paint powder to water ratio, so that it was a thicker consistency. Using the same brush, I brushed the paint on going over the edges a couple of times as they were sucking up more paint than the rest of the chair. Once it was completely dried I sanded it down with a 400 grit light grit sand paper. HUGE difference. It looked wayyyyy cleaner than previously. Marzipan was in fact Marzipan colored. Speaking of Marzipan, do you like Christmas cake? I do, especially when I know there are only 19 more Friday’s until Christmas! You’re welcome.

Anyhow, back to painting fabric. You have no freaking clue how relieved I was that this chair was finally looking how I pictured it in my head. Major relief, wow.

chair4 chair5


This is what the material looked like with the 3 coats of paint and a light sanding. When I was sanding it down, I noticed the corners and edges seemed to not retain the paint as well as the rest of the chair. I’m not sure if this was because the material had more wear to it or what. I wish you could feel how smooth it feels though. It feels so smooth and almost silky!  All that was left at this point was to wax it. I used Annie Sloan clear wax because I already had it on hand. I used it generously and covered the entire area I painted, making sure to get all the seams and edges good.

I wish I could say that I was sitting pretty after all this, but there was still the frame to deal with. There were quite a few scuffs all over but it was nothing some sanding couldn’t take care of. I didn’t sand the whole frame as I was going to use Chalk Paint, so I just made sure that the scuffs were sanded out evenly with the rest of the frame. I painted 3 coats of DecoArts Chalky Finish paint in Relic,which is a dark grey, and sealed it with the clear wax.



I wouldn’t call the material stiff, but it could definitely use some breaking in to soften the edges a bit. It’s really smooth to touch and I’m anxious to see how it stands up to the wear and tear of the circus act my kids can put on. I’ll be sure to keep you updated about that, in the meantime I’m gonna sit on my ‘new’ chair and ignore the fact that I still have one more to do!



  • Jen
    Aug 18

    nicework!! Turned out great

  • Maxine
    Aug 19

    What does the wax do? Why do you need it on fabric?

    • Chandra
      Aug 19

      The wax acts as a protectant, so that if you spill anything it is an easy clean up. It also helps soften the paint even more so than sanding it does.

  • Chalk Paint vs. Milk Paint
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  • Heidi Smith
    May 12

    Hope you get this since this is an old post. I have some chairs that I want to do with the milk paint but am concerned the wax will melt in the hot Phoenix summer. Suggestions?

    • Chandra
      Heidi Smith
      May 12

      Great question Heidi! I never really thought of it as our summers get hot but definitely not Phoenix Hot! I did a bit of digging and found a great write up at http://missmustardseed.com/2013/10/furniture-wax-vs-hemp-oil/ stating that the wax WILL melt in the heat. So depending on whether it will be in direct heat for longer periods of time, you may want to find another alternative.

  • Amanda
    Nov 18

    Can I ask how this has held up over time?

    Apr 11

    Wow!! Amazing result!

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