02 May 2016

How to Update A Vintage Vinyl Chair With Paint

Do you remember what this vintage beauty looked like when I brought him home last week?

I won't say UGLY, that's mean. I find it charming, but I like old things. I bet this old guy could tell a tale. 

The Hunt

Chairs like this are easy to find, and if you have a soft spot for old furniture, you won't have any trouble finding one at a thrift store, yard sale, or Craig's List. This was a $20 CL find. It's not particularly valuable, I couldn't find a name brand associated with it. It is probably a Montgomery Ward gem from the 1970's. Sweet. 

I imagine people are hesitant to take on a vinyl project. I have never upholstered vinyl, but I assume it would be tricky because of the weight of the material.

The Paint

This material was transformed magically with a chalky-finish paint. I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Graphite, with Clear Soft Wax. Do not try to paint vinyl or leather with latex paint. It will peel off like a latex glove, exactly like you would imagine. A chalky-finish paint doesn't chip or peel, rather, it forms a bond with the material. You can scratch it with your nails, you can bend it, and you can certainly sit on it without the paint peeling or scratching off. 

Updating the Old Guy

I decided to remove the wood spindles on each side. I appreciate the retro-fabulous vibe these spindles lend to the chair, but even my love of funk has boundaries. They were a little to "That 70's Show" for my taste. 

After cleaning the chair with mild soap & water, I let it dry and washed it again for good measure. Because, pepperoni aroma.

Then, with a jigsaw, I carefully separated the spindles from the chair. I learned the importance of eye-protection the hard way. Please protect your eyes!

DIY, vintage chair, vinyl, 58 Water Street, painting vinyl, power tools

I sanded the base smooth. This base was painted the same color as the vinyl, and blends into the rest of the chair. 

DIY, vintage chair, vinyl, 58 Water Street, painting vinyl,

The Painting Process

Apply a thin first coat. This will not look like full coverage, and it will not look good. Be patient, and let it dry before applying the second coat.

DIY, vintage chair, vinyl, 58 Water Street, painting vinyl, chalk paint

It will dry with a very thin, transparent, chalky/matte finish.

See? Not pretty. It looks like a clay mask. But we're not done yet.

DIY, vintage chair, vinyl, 58 Water Street, painting vinyl, chalk paint

You will have much better coverage with the second coat. 

Notice that my brushstrokes are not going in one neat direction. I like the movement this gives the vinyl. If you think about the appearance of leather or vinyl, it usually isn't one solid color. It is a blend of colors, and adding texture with the paintbrush helps to achieve this effect.

The picture below is the cushion after two coats of paint, but before clear wax. It looks very matte and chalky. Adding wax takes the vinyl from, "Tell me again why you smeared clay all over the vinyl?" to "There's no way this isn't the original vinyl!" 

Wax is the magic ingredient that makes the whole thing work.

This is the chair after paint, but before wax.  It looks a little uneven, unfinished.

The After

Look at that shine!

Notice how the base strip of wood, where the spindles were attached, disappears into the design of the chair.

One less unwanted chair on the mean streets of Ohio.

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  1. Impressive, never thought to use chalk paint on vinyl but it does say it will stick to almost anything!

    1. It really works like a miracle on Vinyl. Try it!

  2. You did a great job on this. It came out so beautiful!


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