After living in a space for too long, it is natural to want some changes and add a little spice to your upholstered furniture as well.
Fabric chairs are the primary attraction in many rooms, and giving them an entire makeover is not always easy. Changing the color of the fabric might come up on your mind as the first option to give it a new look.
But do you know how to dye a fabric chair? If the answer to the question is ‘no’, there is nothing to worry about at all as this article is specially meant for you.
Here you will find a comprehensive guide regarding how to dye a fabric chair with a few helpful tips that will make the task easier. So let’s dive right into it!
Essential factors to consider before dyeing a fabric chair
If you are doing this for the first time, you must know that even though the process is not very difficult, there are some essential factors you need to keep in mind to avoid making major mistakes.
For newbies, the safest idea is to start with inexpensive upholstered furniture with which you do not have any special emotional attachment. Because you might not always get the best results in the first attempt, it will help you improve and learn better for the next time.
Apart from that, you need to consider two extremely important factors before deciding to dye upholstery.
The type of fabric.
This is the first step in the process as you need to check beforehand whether the material of the upholstered furniture is suitable for dyeing or not. All types of fabrics do not adapt well to dyes, especially if it is very thick.
Smooth fabrics like cotton or polyblends at the most suitable fabric types for dyeing. It is better to avoid thick woven fabrics like velvet or the ones with a lot of textures.
This factor is really important before you paint upholstery because even a small mistake can ruin the entire beauty of your chair.
Type of upholstery dye.
You will get multiple upholstery dyeing kits in the market which contain everything you need to dye a fabric chair. Coming to the type of dyes, there are different types available in the market which suit different types of fabrics. Some of the most common ones are-
Fiber-reactive dyes– this type forms molecular bonds with cellulose fibers procured from plant sources. This is suitable for fabrics like cotton, hemp, linen, rayon, etc.
Union dyes- this dye is suitable for use in blended fabrics containing two different types of fibers.
Acid dyes- this works in acidic dye baths and is suitable for fabrics like wool, silk, cashmere, etc.
Direct dyes- this is one of the basic options, and it means any type of dye which can be absorbed by the submerged fibers directly after dissolving in water. Most dyes that are used for coloring fabric chairs are direct dyes.
Liquid vs powder dyes- what to choose?
Both liquid and powder dyes can give permanent and pigmented results. And you will hardly find any difference in the final result when you dye a fabric using either liquid or powder dyes. So which one to go for?
Liquid dye is more concentrated than powder, so you only need to use half the quantity. In simple words, for every 2 packages of powder dye, you need one bottle of liquid dye. Hence, liquid dyes can be a more cost-efficient option.
Another difference is that liquid dye comes premixed, but powder dyes need to be dissolved in water first. Hence many users can find liquid dyes more convenient.
Steps to dye a fabric chair.
Step 1- Prepare the piece of fabric and clean the dust.
Your fabric chair might have accumulated some dust as it remains uncovered for most of the time. It is very essential to vacuum the entire chair to get rid of dust and dirt. If the share is not cleaned correctly, you will never get a smooth texture on the fabric after dyeing.
Make sure to reach all the nooks and crannies and spot clean the stains, so they do not discolor the area. You can also so use a spray bottle to spray water on the fabric chair so that it is slightly wet or damp and can absorb the first coat of paint well into the fabric.
Step 2- Test the fabric.
Before dyeing the entire upholstered chair, it is better to practice dyeing a smaller piece of similar fabric or an old chair.
You can go for slipcovers, a matching pillow cover, or any swatch to get familiar with the process and get a preview of the consistency and finished result. It will also prevent you from making any blunders and regretting later.
Step 3- Prepare yourself and the space around you.
Dyeing and painting upholstery is honestly not very pleasant to your senses. Even though a spray bottle makes the task more manageable, you can still end up getting paint on your face and body.
This might not cause any serious harm, but you can never be too cautious. Always cover your face with a mask and use hand gloves while doing this kind of task.
To protect areas of the share that you do not want to paint, like the legs, use tape to keep them covered.
You can also take the upholstered chair out in the garden or in a space where there will be a minimum consequence of getting the space messy. Drop cloths can also come in handy during this time.
Step 4- make the solution.
If you want to get a softer and smoother output, it is better not to use the paint or dye directly on the fabric. You might get an uneven finish if you do that.
It is better to use a diluted solution or any other suitable solution. If you have purchased a dyeing kit, you will already have everything ready, and all you need to do is to get the ratio right while mixing.
The recommended ratio is two parts of the fabric coat and one part of the penetrating solution to get the perfect texture.
If you do not have a dyeing kit, you can also make your own diluted solution by mixing that dye and water.
Getting the correct ratio is again important in this scenario and the recommended ratio is to prepare 3 cups of dye mixed with two cups of water.
Step 5- Apply the first coat of paint.
After spraying the fabric with water to keep it damp, you can go ahead and apply the first coat of paint. You can use a brush or a spray bottle to do this.
You can use a paintbrush to cover the areas where the fabric folds. To help the fabric soak the dye better, you can use a piece of sponge or rag and rub the painted surface.
Step 6- Sand the coat of paint.
Let the one coat of paint completely dry. You might notice that the product is not looking like what you expected.
But it will get better with more coats of paint. After the dye dries, get a fine sandpaper and sand the coat to get a smoother and softer finish on the fabric. This will make a huge difference.
Step 7- Apply a second layer of paint and repeat the sanding process.
The next step is to apply the second coat of paint and sand the painted areas. You can repeat this process with further coats until you are satisfied with the result.
If you are using spray dye and you see that there are some areas you cannot cover with sprays, use a paint brush to cover those areas. It might take a slightly longer time because you have to give time for the dye to dry completely in between layers before you go for the last coat.
Helpful tips to know before dyeing a fabric chair
1. Before starting with the dyeing process, make sure that you determine if your fabric chair is suitable for dyeing. Missing this step can become a major blunder, and avoid fabrics having thick textures.
2. It is better to go for a liquid dye if your fabric has a lot of texture like in case of velvet.
3. Use diluted paint and go for multiple coats if you want the fabric to be soft and smooth.
4. Reach out for smaller brushes to cover up the hard-to-reach areas.
5. The places where you notice the fabric bunched up, use a thin layer for painting upholstery so that they do not stick together.
6. Always wear gloves, no matter what.
Does the fabric shrink during the dyeing process?
Taking of the fabric from the chair is a very tedious process, and if the fabric shrinks, it will be very hard to fit it back up onto the furniture.
So if you are going ahead with the dyeing process, ensure the fabric doesn’t shrink. If you dye the fabric while it is still on the chair, the chances of any issues arising due to shrinkage will not be a major problem.
Can I use fabric dyes for upholstery?
Yes, you can use fabric dyes for upholstery, but it might not be ideal. The dyes for upholstery are made specially, and the lighter shade produces the strongest pigment.
What is the difference between fabric paint and fabric dye?
Fabric paint coats the surface of the fabric to leave the pigment. On the other hand, fabric dyes form a chemical bond with the natural fibers in a fabric.
Is it possible to get permanent fabric dye?
Yes, you can definitely get permanent fabric dyes. Fiber reactive and acid types usually leave permanent coloration, even in machine-washable fabrics.
Can I wash the fabric after it’s dyed with upholstery fabric paint?
Yes, you can wash a dyed fabric as you would wash any other fabric. It is recommended to wait at least 72 hours before washing it for the first time after dying.
However, the first time you wash it, wash them alone or add an old white piece of cloth so you know if the color bleeds or if there’s any kind of color transfer.
Avoid using any fabric softener as it can break down the pigments in the dye. If the color fades over time, you can always dye the fabric again.