how to dye upholstered chairs

Name: shawna
Message: Hi...great web site!! I have two upholstered chairs in my office at work that are old and faded in some spots.  The fabric looks to be in decent shape.  The color is not too good, and as I mentioned, faded in some areas.  I can’t afford to have them reupholstered and the price of slipcovers is also too much (at least quality slipcovers).  I was thinking about dyeing the chairs.  They don’t have to be perfect but if I could dye them a nice light to medium brown, it would cover the old color (faded pumpkin) and spruce them up for a reasonable amount of money.  I have no idea what the fabric is but my guess is cotton.  I thought I could use the spray bottle technique or sponge it on. Any ideas?

Please read the FAQ section on my website, specifically the answer to the question "Can furniture be dyed successfully?"

I cannot recommend dyeing your upholstery unless you first remove it from the chair, because all excess dye must be carefully washed out, which requires a lot of rinsing. I received e-mail from someone who used Rit brand dye to color her sofa, without removing the cover to do so, and the dye rubbed right off onto the clothing of whoever sat in it, ruining it. Please dye your furniture only if you can manage to rinse out the excess dye afterwards. If this will be possible, cotton furniture can be dyed with cool water fiber reactive dyes, but synthetics such as polyester and, especially, Herculon, cannot be. It is best to avoid hot water dyes such as all-purpose dye for this sort of project, both because the heat may shrink the fabric, and because of the obvious problems in figuring out a way to boil the fabric in the dyebath.

Fabric paint is a better idea than dye, if you cannot fully rinse the material after applying the dye. It may not be any cheaper than getting slipcovers made, however.

Scarlet Zebra used to supply valuable information on using fabric paint, instead of dye, to recolor upholstered furniture. Unfortunately, since that company has now closed for business, I can only find that information now on the Internet Archive. It is highly recommended reading.

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Posted: Tuesday - November 08, 2005 at 11:34 AM          

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