How To Use Upholstery Spray Paint For Quick French Chair Updates

Fabric dye has been the most traditional way of  adding color to textiles and clothing for centuries, but it hasn’t been until recent years that upholstery paint has been used instead of replacing upholstery all together.  Think about that french chair that has been tucked away just waiting to be upholstered, and hasn’t seen the sun for months.  While conventional clothing die is time consuming, upholstery paint is relatively simple and requires no work what so ever.  Just like spraying a piece of furniture, this process is simpler, as no prep work is necessarily.  Below we review the two most popular brands, Simply Spray and Dupli-Color ; two popular upholstery paint brands used to update upholstery and we tell you our best opinion.

I once painted a french chair with regular oil paint which was thinned down, and it turned out quite well.  The fabric was definitely stiff, so I was excited when they came out with a professional product that claims the fabric to be soft even after spraying multiple layers.  The benefit of spraying your french chairs is that everyone picks up furniture that requires some need of updating and repair.  Often times a person finds themselves at one point in their lives debating to themselves if a piece is worth picking up because of the dated upholstery and the level of work that is needed to make it fashionable again.

The beauty of upholstery spray is it is quick, simple, and very inexpensive.  It allows you to feature that special french chair right away instead of hiding it in a closet and putting it on an already long “to-do-list”.  Fabric upholstery paint is also conveniently in a spray can giving you control over the coverage and an even spraying job making the fabric color appear realistic.

Let us review the two Products:

Simply Spray is permanent aerosol fabric paint, not a dye.  It is important to know that because many people get confused.  It will not crack or peel and claims it dries in just 30 minutes, and remains permanent after 72 hours.  This spray will not rub off on your clothes and will not make the fabric hard to touch.

Simply Spray,  is sold in 8 ounce spray cans and comes in Black, Navy Blue,  Burnt Orange, Red , Plum,  Hunter Green and Periwinkle

Upholstery Paint- Simply Spray Colors Selection

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Simply spray is not toxic,and is safe to use.  It is always reccomended to be used along side a facial mask.

Emmanuel says “I used it to cover a Victorian loveseat- it had pet stains on it and was looking gross in general, so i decided to spray it with this paint. I chose a hot pink color (the color was white before). It took me a an afternoon and about 5 cans of spray paint. I was so happy I finally covered all the stains AND got to color it a cool color. It’s been a few months and it hasn’t faded, color doesn’t wipe off or transfer onto clothesand best of all- it transformed the decor in the room… I am looking to do this to a few of my other old furniture, but am waiting to until the colors wear out a little bit more. My cats aren’t even phased by the loveseat- they sit and sleep on the loveseat as if nothing was done to their favorite piece of furniture. Long story- short: This is stuff ROCKS!”

Andrew Green from Raleigh, NC upholstered a black sectional sofa that his parents gave him.  The couch was originally a black which faded to a purple, and he transformed it back into a deep dark modern black.

He brought up some good points which he left on the amazon site, which he was able to give his opinion on based from his experience.

Some of the prior complaints he addressed were:

1. The paint takes a few days to totally dry.
2. You need a fair amount of paint.
3. The paint runs and drips a bit.

Having seen the complaints, Andrew allowed the extra time to dry by placing a  tarp in his attic.  Having a garage is the ideal luxury for painting or spraying furniture, frames, or home decor.  If you live in a condo, be sure to buy a large tarp for your chair or settee to sit on.  As funny as it is, I painted furniture for 3 years out of a cramped condo that was carpeted.  With the use of tarps and drop cloths, the carpet stayed new without an ounce of paint to spoil the color.   DO NOT spray paint inside your home.  It is an absolute must that you take it outside.  A fine layer of paint particles do land on every surface and are impossible to clean, so be sure you spray out doors.   To many times I have sprayed things in my bathroom which take 2 hours to clean the over spray afterwards.

Second, order plenty of spray paint to cover your project.  If you are planning on doing a settee, from previous testimonies, 4- 8 cans cover a sofa.

Andrew also tells us that he found rubbing in the color using Simply Spray works the best:

“I should mention that I have no experience painting anything. I found the best method for painting my sofa (since it has ruffles on it) was to put on some rubber gloves, spray for a few seconds, rub the paint in with your hand, and then move to the next area. The first couch section I did has a few of the ruffle areas that need retouching, since I didn’t start the “rub the paint in with your hand” method until the second section. The second section looks perfect! The first one, with the exception of the spots I missed, looks fantastic as well.”

Some people will find the upholstery will be a little stiffer than its original feel, but over time, it should break in with some usage.


One complaint of the Simply Spray is having to squeeze the trigger, which is sometimes hard to work.  In other words, some people say it is difficult to get a consistent spray.  DYI Home Decorating Ideas recovered a pair of wing chairs in Simply Spray in Plum and they claim that two out of the four cans stopped working mid-spray and were nearly full.  They changed the cap of the spray and were able to use the rest of the product.

Dupli-Color High Performance Vinyl & Fabric Spray

Upholstery Spray - Dupli High Performance Fabric Spray

Lets review the second most popular spray called Dupli-Color High Performance Vinyl & Fabric Spray comes in a variety of colors.

Dupli-Color® Products Group, is a division of The Sherwin-Williams Company, which is a quality paint manufacturer.  Dupli-Color is the leading manufacturer of  aerosol, touch-up, general purpose and automotive specialty products.

The colors that are available are made specifically for the updating of cars, so as you can see the color selection falls in two groups, one representing more of a sports car interior, Yellow,  Medium Blue,  Blue, Shale Blue, Red, Deep Red, Burgandy

And the second more classical colors would be ideal for luxury interiors Medium Beige,  Desert Sand, White,  Silver , Flat BlackGloss Black, Charcoal Gray

According to Dupli-Color’s Senior Product Manager, Chris Prebel, “This product is formulated with a maximum adhesion promoter, so there’s no need for a primer.

Surfaces such as the vehicle’s vinyl seats, dashes, door panels, shifter boots and consoles can all be coated with Vinyl & Fabric Coating as it is NOT just a fabric paint.  This product is fast drying and will not crack, peel or chip.  Vinyl & Fabric Coating is available in a variety of hot tuner-style colors as well.

From B Lee, who used both brands side by side inside her car favors the Dupli Fabric Spray.

She tells us that although the Simply Spray brand was easier to clean the overspray from the plastic frame inside her car, she acknowledges the previous complaints about Simply Spray that it is difficult to get a consistent spray.  Simply Spray drips a lot, she claims.  Though it may create some problems as it drys uneven, showing the drip marks, after future coats.

Simply spray needs to soak into the seats, so in essence you need more product she says.  In comparison, Dupli-Color is much easier to spray, keeping a consistent layer, not using as much paint.  The paint smell is much stronger, and it takes less time to dry – 24 hours in between coats.

She also mentions that Simply Spray can be messy if you have to rub it into the upholstery.  She mentions her hands and clothing got dirty, but in many respects any painter should know to wear gloves, and throw away painting clothes.

The paint takes 72 hours in compared to Dupli Colors 24 hours.

So as we can see in summary, the one draw back to Simply Spray is the nozzle problems.  

Dupli color has more UPDATED color options compared to Simply Spray.   Simply Spray may be geared towards more of the arts and crafts like their other lines, rather than professional looking interiors.  Dupli has a wider range of nicer colors that could transfer over to upholstery furniture .  Colors such as the charcoal gray, sand and beige are all neutral and could be put in a Swedish, french, contemporary and modern home.  The yellow is also a very popular color compared to a dated plum, burgundy, or bright blue that Simply Spray offers.  

Dupli also offers a gloss black, which may be a better choice to the chalky black which may produce an unrealistic and unnatural fabric texture.  (Again, it is my opinion, as I have not tried the flat black that both brands offer) The black would be the ideal choice for any upholstery improvements inside vehicles and for upholstery.

 Dupli also offers a stunning charcoal gray which would look very polished on a swedish white washed frame.  The Dupli blue, yellow, and neutrals offer great options for stunning french chairs.      

Both paints can be purchased at a discount for 4- 5 dollars per bottle on amazon, (12 bottles for roughly 60 dollars) compared to over 100 dollars for 12 at the manufactures website. 

How to Use Upholstery Spray Paint:

1. Brush the furniture off with a broom to remove excess dust from the upholstery.

2.  Begin by spraying the furniture at a 6″ to 8″ distance.  Cover your entire french chair or settee with nice even, sweeping motions

3. Let the first first coat dry for an hour, and repeat the process every hour, giving extra time for your chair or settee to dry.

4.Repeat with a second coat, and repeat the steps until you have reached your desired color.

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