Faux Painting Tricks – Paint your couch!

Whether you’re giving your personal porch a facelift, or figuring out how to spruce things up affordably at your gallery, here’s a great tip on how to paint your couch or exterior lawn furniture cushions.

Years ago I had a bad combination – lots of small kids and a new-ish, chintz print couch. It didn’t take long before Kool-Aid and other things stained it, but the upholstery was still good. With little ones I was not in the market for a new couch, so I decided to paint it instead.I created new couch pillows too, and painted them as well, giving them a quick spritz of iridescent glitter. (A local store was interested in selling my pillows after that!). The paint held up well.

Later, I found an upholstered mid-century era chair. It was badly sun bleached, so I painted it a cranberry color, let it dry, then painted a phrase in  Shorthand Script  as a tribute to my grandmother, who knew stenography. So with paint, you can make really cool patters – or just paint one solid color. But you get to choose the precise color you want. And if you mess up your pattern – so what? Just paint over it.

Here’s the before photo – a bunch of expensive, but now mildew-stained cushions and pillows. (The “After” photo is at the bottom.)

Painting Outdoor furniture cushions

No matter how carefully you care for them, after years of use some outdoor furniture cushions really take a beating. Maybe you’ve tried bleach and other remedies to take out mildew and stains. But if you’re ready to buy new, consider painting them – you might love them even more!

So why paint your furniture cushions?

  1. Freshen up cushions or change your decor for a few dollars.
  2. Choose the exact color you like.
  3. You can create a matchig accent piece simply by using the same base color, but adding a design (like white, criss-cross lines, for example).
  4. You can breathe new life into old furniture.
  5. Repurpose aging furniture.
  6. Paint artwork right on your furniture if you like
  7. Believe it or not, paint holds up pretty well! And if it wears, you simply paint over it.

paint your couch

Some tips to help you paint your furniture:paint your couch

  1. Try this first with furniture you’re willing to throw away
  2. Use an outdoor latex paint – it’s more UV resistant. Latex paints will not wash out of fabrics – including your clothes, so wear something junky to paint in.
  3. I found a small, foam roller much easier to use than a brush or large roller. I found the spongy foam roller easier to control.
  4. If you don’t have a paint pan, use an old butter tub
  5. If you get interrupted, don’t wash your rollers if you don’t have to. Wrap them tightly in a plastic grocery bag until later.
  6. You may want a small brush to dab corners
  7. A primer/paint combination works better than ordinary paint. It’s worth the higher price and covers in fewer coats – normally just 2 coats. (The orange settee was covered in only 1 coat.)
  8. Let the paint cure for a week before using the cushions, just so you don’t have someone leaving your
    home with a painted bottom!

The surface will feel rough at first, but over time the paint will break in. It generally won’t wash off or rub off once it’s fully cured.

I can’t vouch for the safety of skin-to-paint contact, and personally don’t know if this is safer than using fabric dye or just buying new furniture. But in a pinch, it looks really great and is a project that doesn’t require a lot of time or expertise. My kids watched cartoons many Saturday mornings on our painted couch, and they turned out fairly normal, if that’s any consolation.

paint your couch