PAINTING LEATHER with Chalk Paint™ By Annie Sloan – PART 1

A couple of years ago, by husband and I bought a new couch as a (VERY) belated wedding present.  The old leather couch, love seat and chair (hand-me-downs from Justin’s parents) made their way to the spare room – a stopping point for most things headed to the dump. For months now I’ve been threatening to paint the old set with Chalk Paint™ By Annie Sloan and as a part of my Procrastinate Less initiative for 2016 I decided that the time has come.

Now, I won’t lie to you.  The outcome was AMAZING but the whole thing was A LOT of work.  However, it was well worth it since for around $100 I have a whole new set of seating perfect for our sun room.

Below is the first part of the project – the paint.  The whole thing took an entire day from 9 am to 6 pm but to be fair that might have included lunch, dinner, and a couple loads of laundry.  Below are the materials I used and a step by step tutorial.  In part two (happening hopefully next weekend) I will talk about waxing our freshly painted furniture to protect it.

When we were buying our house there wasn’t a lot of money left for fancy furniture so we settled on a couple of pieces (some bought – others donated from Justin’s parents) which included a leather furniture set in a tolerable but not stunning shade of (patchy) cherry brown leather.  Over the years, the cushions became scratched, discolored and dingy but the actual furniture was still functional.  Since it was headed for the dump I decided to experiment by painting it with Chalk Paint™ By Annie Sloan in French Linen.  I used a synthetic bristle brush in 2″ to minimize the brush marks.

Photo Jan 02, 1 31 58 PM

On its own, the paint is thick which is great for creating interesting texture on furniture and accessories but wouldn’t work so well for this project.  To keep the paint flexible, the trick is layer very thin coats, painting each coat in an opposite direction than the last.

I used two different thinning mixes on the furniture.  For the parts that have the most give like the seat, back and armrests, I thinned the paint out 30%.  This will make the paint pretty runny so don’t load up too much on the brush to avoid runs and drips.  The key is to brush out a thin layer which will dry very fast (even on a rainy day the coats dried in 30 minutes) and avoid heavy coats since a thick layer of paint will crack.  On parts that didn’t flex as much like the sides and back, I thinned the paint out only 10% which meant better coverage in less coats.

After the first coat DON’T PANIC.  I promise your furniture will look better after every coat as the colour becomes more opaque and the coverage improves.  The thin wash will keep the paint flexible and prevent it from cracking but it does look a mess for the first few layers.

Photo Jan 02, 3 40 24 PM

You’ll know when it’s time for the second (and third and fourth) coat when the first is totally flat and no shiny spots are visible.

In total, I painted 6 thin coats on flexible parts like the cushions/arm rests and four coats on the back and sides.  Since Chalk Paint™ By Annie Sloan has no smell, I didn’t have to move the furniture out of the room and only turned on the fans to help with drying time. For all the pieces – couch, loveseat, chair and ottoman, I used 2 quarts of paint and will probably need a large 500ml tin of clear wax (more on that next week).  Since I am not a patient person, I couldn’t wait to sit on the chair which didn’t crack (YAY).  However, in the classic manner of “do as I say – not as I do” I would strongly suggest waiting at least 48 hours before touching, flexing or waxing your painted leather (or fabric) pieces.  This gives the paint a chance to cure.

If you liked this post don’t forget to check back next week to see what’s new on the blog but if you can’t wait  our Facebook page is updated daily with amazing spaces, design tips and DIY projects.  Or get a sneak peak at life behind the scenes at the paint store (and more stunning rooms) on our Instagram page here.  

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36 Responses to “PAINTING LEATHER with Chalk Paint™ By Annie Sloan – PART 1”

  1. Colleen

    I absolutely love this ..I have 2 chairs exactly like that but we got them greatly discounted because they had sat in a store window and some parts are greatly faded making it 2 colours …thank you for posting this …love love love and I am definitely going to give it a try

  2. Carol Price

    So happy I came upon this post. We bought new leather sofa and love seat. I was thinking of re-covering the ottoman we had. Now I know exactly what I will do with it. Looking forward to next time to see the waxing process.

  3. Isabella

    I love that you included a video, that was really helpful. I have been researching painting furniture and was having a hard time discerning how the texture turned out. Thanks for the great tips on keeping the texture nice and the paint flexible.

    What is your opinion on using different kinds of paint for a project like this?

    • Rowe Spurling Paint Company

      Thank you visiting! I found that the Chalk Paint™ By Annie Sloan worked very well because it stayed flexible. I haven’t tried other acrylic architectural paints but I suspect they would flake off over time. Plus the Annie Sloan soft wax protects the finish. I understand that there are other leather paints (which I see I primarily used on shoes) but I haven’t had a chance to test them so unfortunately I have no feedback available. If you try some let me know!

      • Maggie Jones

        ty 🙂 I am debating using the AS chalk paint you used versus Saphir Tenax leather color spray paint to repaint an old leather couch. I am going to buy a can of the spray paint today and test out a patch on the back of the couch. If I don’t like the result I will try out the AS. I want a royal blue/sapphire blue color.. so I have to see how well the color looks after drying.

    • Rowe Spurling Paint Company

      Good evening Jennifer. I cleaned the surface with some white vinegar and water (50/50) and let dry. A little scuff up with a scotch brite pad wouldn’t have hurt but the paint stuck very well. Have a great night!

  4. paintobsessed

    This looks really fantastic and I’m all set to paint my own leather sofa. Does yours get a lot of use and how has it held up so far? Mine will probably be jumped on by my two children a lot so I’m a bit afraid it might not cope with this too well!

    • Rowe Spurling Paint Company

      Thank for visiting the blog! I’ll be totally honest with you – on the couch it’s me and my husband for a few hours every night. The paint looks fine but it doesn’t get that much wear and tear. I would probably try a small piece first (like a chair or ottoman) and have your kids put it to the test. Remember to put on light coats to keep the paint from cracking. Hope that helps!

      • paintobsessed

        Thank you, I think I will try out the back of a cushion and get them to jump all over it! I’ve tried a small patch and I find that on second and even 3rd coats that as I brush I can see underneath to the leather slightly. Did you get this? Is this what alternating the direction of the brushing helps with? Thank you so much for your help!

      • Rowe Spurling Paint Company

        Make sure you’re using a synthetic bristle brush. It will minimize brush marks and make the finish super smooth. I DID alternate the direction of the brush stokes on the cushions. In total I did 6-7 coats of paint to get full coverage. The paint was really thin so it took more coats but it stayed flexible. Let me know how you make out!

  5. Alexis

    Is the couch comfy still??? Or is it scratchy after paint dries??

  6. Cinthya

    I wonder if it this will work in a bonded leather couch. What do you think?

    • Rowe Spurling Paint Company

      Good evening Cinthya. Bonded leather is usually coated and the coating might prevent the paint from sticking well. Before you get started I would scuff it lightly with a scotch write pad. Have a great night!

    • Rowe Spurling Paint Company

      Hello Darlene. I don’t see why it would’t work on a purse – it works great on shoes! The technique would be the same; layer thin coats of paint to keep it from cracking and then seal with wax the next day for protection. Have a great weekend!

  7. Barbara

    I’m curious why you didn’t use spray chalk paint. I’m thinking about painting a pair of shoes but had planned to use a spray can. I used spray on a couple of vases and it was beautiful. You mentioned waxing after painting. What wax would I buy?

    • Rowe Spurling Paint Company

      Good morning Barbara. I didn’t use the spray paint for a couple of reasons. It’s super messy and you have to mask off everything. Plus, I find that thinning the paint and brushing it on gives me more control over application. I sealed with Annie Sloan Soft Wax in Clear for protection and a bit of satin sheen.

  8. Angel

    Hello, I see this post about your chalk painted couch is a few years old. Is the paint still holding up? And still soft? I am a chalk paint beginner and just finished my kitchen table and would love to try more furniture. Thanks!

  9. Sarah

    That’s amazing thank you so much for the information I would love to do mine !! The only problem is one of my seats has already cracked slightly so do I have to treat that 1st of yes what do you recommend? X

  10. Kaylee

    was it hard to keep the arm rest from sticking to the seat cushion? we have recliner couches that the coushions don’t come out on and wondered how to keep those areas from sticking together.

    • Rowe Spurling Paint Company

      Our cushions didn’t come out either which was a giant pain. What worked the best for us was a team effort. I painted while my husband held back the armrests then I used a blow dryer to dry the areas well before letting the cushion fall back into place.

    • Rowe Spurling Paint Company

      That was the biggest pain! In the end I found that a team approach worked best. My husband held the cushion back from the arm rest, I painted it and then used a blow dryer to dry the paint before releasing the cushion back into place.


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