Vinyl Chair Makeover

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for makeover details.Hiya! Mandi here! Have an old vinyl chair that needs a makeover? I had thrifted a pair of black ʼ70s bar stools that weren’t exactly uggos, but they were kind of boring and stood out a bit more than I’d like against the bright white office wall in our living room. I wondered if a little paint could do the trick, but my mind kept churning, and I got stuck on the idea of a patterned chair. A plaid chair! Kind of a bold idea, considering my original complaint about the chairs being too bold. Well, I think I settled on a nice, tasteful makeover for my vinyl chairs by combining some paint and gingham fabric. Check out all the details below!

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for makeover details.Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Supplies:
-vinyl chair (duh)
-lightweight fabric
-spray paint for plastic
-Mod Podge (preferably indoor/outdoor)
-varnish (only needed if you use regular Mod Podge)
-paint or foam brush
-fabric scissors
-painter’s tape
-material to cover chair legs (I used plastic grocery bags)

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Step One: Thoroughly clean the chairs, then cover the legs with painter’s tape and plastic bags.

Step Two: Cover the chair with a few light coats of spray paint. Make sure you use the type that bonds to plastic. I did two coats and waited a week to do another two.

This project was pretty easy, but it required lots of patience right after I got started. That’s right—I waited an entire week for the paint to dry! The waiting period drew out the length of this project, though the individual steps themselves were accomplished fairly quickly. I’ll admit, during that week of tacky paint, I really wondered if the paint would ever cure. But I had read Jenny’s experience with painting vinyl at her blog Little Green Notebook, which gave me the confidence to see it through. So I waited. Then on the eighth day, the paint wasn’t tacky anymore! So I added two more coats of paint and then moved on to the next step.

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Step Three: Cut out pieces of fabric to fit on the back and seat of the chair. If you’re working with a pattern, make sure the lines are straight with the lines of the chair.

Step Four: Coat the back and seat of the chair with a thick coat of Mod Podge. If you don’t already have a bottle of Mod Podge, buy the kind suitable for outdoors. If you have the regular kind, just get a small bottle of varnish to use in step nine.

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Step Five: Press the fabric onto the Mod Podge-covered sections and smooth it out with your hand.

Step Six: Trim away the excess fabric along the piping or seam of the chair. Be very careful—you need to cut closely, not not too close. If there’s piping, make sure you have a little overlap for the next step.

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Step Seven: Using the curved tip of scissors (do not use scissors with a sharp tip) or your fingernail, push the excess fabric under the piping.

Step Eight: Cover the fabric with Mod Podge to complete the adhering process.

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for makeover details.Step Nine: If you used regular Mod Podge instead of the outdoor-safe variety to adhere the fabric, you will need to protect the surface from moisture by sealing it with a varnish. If you use an oil-based varnish, you probably shouldn’t use a foam brush. Or just throw the brush away when you’re finished.

Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for details.Give an old vinyl chair a facelift! Click through for makeover details.I love how the new chairs turned out, and thanks to the sealant on top of the fabric, they can still be quickly wiped down with a wet cloth. You never know what a little paint and Mod Podge can do to transform something from trash to treasure. Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Spring and Valentine of the Signature Collection

  • Curious to know how this held up? Thinking of doing this to vintage vinyl rockers.

  • Hi Mandi! Hoping to use this wonderful guide to do 6x kitchen chairs (those 8days waiting for dry paint are gonna kill me!)

    I noticed that there was some damage to the vinyl on the front seat of one of the chairs, and since I’m working with old vinyl dining chairs with a number of scratches and cracks in the fabric, and I was trying to figure out the best way to handle the same sort of problem! Did you just use more paint over that scratched area? I was thinking of using shoe glue to cover them crack and then a little sanding – but perhaps paint would do since the fabric isn’t split? I’ve never done this sort of thing before so I hoped I could ask for your input!

    Thanks for any/all advice, and love love love your chairs!


  • Now I know how to cover the vinyl upholstery around my motorhome doors and ceiling. Thanks, I had no idea Modpodge would work!

  • I promise— It’s totally durable! You just have to make sure to seal it with varnish. And if the chair has piping and you push the fabric into the piping, it looks like a factory-finish. 🙂 -Mandi

  • I did not think you could mod lodge fabric to vinyl and have it weather a butt sitting on it! I am totally trying this on my cheapo black vinyl barstools!

  • Honestly, I think it probably depends on how fluffy your chair is. For a regular ol’ kitchen vinyl chair that isn’t overstuffed, it would probably last about as long as any old vinyl chair would— for lots of use until it just gives up and eventually cracks. -Mandi

  • Wow! they look really great! i love the idea
    i want to try it with a chair in my room 🙂

  • soo cute! love the fabric you chose!


  • Great project! Do you think the “give” would be as flexible with the outdoor MP vs the way you did it with the varnish finish? Thank you!

  • Totally adorable! It looks so much more fresh with the makeover!


  • Very Nice Ladies, your creativity appears endless, can’t wait for more great DIY ideas.

  • Wow…I thought this was going to be an upholstery project!! Can’t believe how chic the finished product looks, all care of a little Mod Podge, fabric, paint…and patience!!

  • Loving this DIY! Brings brightness compared to the black!

    Janine Maral from

  • Reupholstering is certainly a good idea if you love the chair but the fabric is in bad shape. My vinyl was in good shape other than me wanting it to be a different color, so I went the easier/less expensive route. It’s holding up really well and I love the way it looks! -Mandi

  • So cute! Love how it can be tailored to whatever colour scheme that suits! // timidlioness

  • I love retro vinyl chairs! The combination of white + a pattern looks great on them!

  • Super cute idea. I especially love how you can just wipe them clean with a cloth.

  • So cute! I love the vintage feel

  • I might be more concerned about how the spray painting would hold up on the seat when it’s being rubbed by use. But the sides and back receive very little wear (except from a hand to the top of the back pulling in/out the chair), so I expect the paint to hold up really well. If you’re still worried about the paint holding up, I would suggest covering all of it in fabric, as I did to the seat portion. It is surprisingly simple, and it seems like it will hold up incredibly well— and you don’t have to use patterned fabric.

  • It definitely doesn’t feel like fabric. It feels pretty much like vinyl, though with a subtle fabric texture to the surface. You can check out my previous comment responses to my expectations for how these guys will hold up. 🙂

  • The seat feels just like one of those old ’60s chairs that’s covered in textured laminated (usually floral) fabric. I think that’s what they’re covered in, though maybe it’s just patterned vinyl. Do you know what I mean? Those kitchen chairs you see in ’60s and ’70s decor? These chairs feel just like that. They’re on the same comfort level as the vinyl was originally, but a little less slippery when wet.

  • Hi Jan! So far the chairs are holding up fantastically! You can check out my response about the durability of this makeover a few comments above. My only concern is is the paint were to get scratched, but even that could easily be fixed. Hopefully it won’t need to!

    You can always e-mail me after the comments close on projects to see how things are holding up. I don’t mind! 🙂

  • I would guess that it would! Just make sure that you use a couple of layers of varnish to protect the seat from moisture. You don’t want to get glue on your bum! 🙂

  • Honestly, I was really surprised at how easy it was! I was a little worried there when the paint took so long to dry that I was in for it. But waiting for the paint to dry was the toughest part. 🙂

  • So far so good! You can always feel free to e-mail me via the contact form on my blog with questions about projects after the comments here close. (I think comments close after a month.) The reason I decided to only paint the outside and do fabric on the seat and back is because I also was worried about the paint cracking. But I’ve noticed that even on the seat and back, the chair doesn’t give enough to cause the vinyl to crack at all. But even if it did, the fabric moves as the vinyl moves, and the varnish over the fabric isn’t crunchy, so it also moves along with the fabric. No cracking. 🙂

    The only concern I had about painting was that the paint would scratch off. If it does, I can touch it up, but hopefully that’s not a problem!

  • I was wondering the exact same thing as soon as I saw the project. The chairs turned out super cute and look awesome but I am also wondering how the paint will hold up on that fabric after a couple of months of use…. would love to see an update.

  • What can’t Mod Podge do. I love the print that you used! I think a mix of this and polka dots in a room would be cute!
    Summer Blogger Freebie!

  • The gingham print is too cute. 🙂 Lovely!

    I hope you have a beautiful day!!!


    the bbb blogger

  • That is fantastic… the chair has transformed into something very chic, love it! You always have great DIYs.


  • me too! it looks like the fabric might not hold many seatings, and the paint might crack? i really hope not, but it might.

  • It turned out perfectly.

  • Shut the front door! This DIY is amazing!! I love how they turned out and I love how easy this looks! And guess what? My friends were complaining about their ugly vinyl kitchen chairs. BAM!

  • One of the fronts of my vinyl chairs was torn, and this is the perfect fix! Thank you!!!!

  • I love this! Does the seat still feel like fabric, or does the Mod Podge and varnish make it feel more like the vinyl? I agree with Angela – I’d also be interested in hearing how this holds up. Great job, Mandi!


  • That is adorable!! I think the white back keeps the pattern from being too overwhelming, it’s just right!

  • I love it! I thought this would be a reupholster project, but this is so much easier. What does the seat feel like? I would love to hear how this holds up.

  • So cool! I would have never thought to spray paint vinyl!

  • This looks so great, you did a wonderful job! 🙂

  • Yay, I’ve been so interested in refurbishing furniture, etc. but have no sewing skills nor the money to pay someone. It’s exciting to see a project like this that doesn’t require sewing! Awesome.

  • Utterly fabulous! It looks so simple and easy. Love it!


  • This looks so cute! But I’m sure its more tricky than it looks! Eeks! Lilly xx

  • These are so sweet! What a great tutorial! Thanks ladies!

  • That chair is looking so classy now! This would make any old chair look fantastic again!

  • NO WAYYYYYYYY!!!!!!! that’s crazy talk! i NEVER would have guessed you could freaking spray paint and freaking mod podge a freaking chair, for pete’s sake. amazing!! 😀

  • You ladies make everything look so simple! Which I suppose it relatively is, but still! These chairs turned out fantastic! All of your tutorials make me want to just rummage every thrift shop I see, and then decide how it could work for me. (If I love it that is…)

  • Looks great, but I would also like to see an update after a few months use to see how they hold up.

  • That looks fancy! Good job and thanks for sharing!

    Much love from Germany:

    XO Bambi

  • This is so cool! I didn’t know you could to so much with mod podge and fabric! Just a question, will it work if you make your own mod podge out of white glue and water?

  • You girls (and boys) are amazing! You always surprised me with your projects!

  • brilliant! they look so well done, not tacky at all. i might use this someday when my dining chairs (made in 1948) have finally had it.

  • I was not expecting to see you paint and glue for the makeover. It looks way better then I would have imagined!

  • I’d love to get an update in several months regarding how well this DIY has held up. I’m always kind of nervous that I’ll put all that work in only to have my project unravel or fall apart a month later!

  • I’m really impressed… at how simple and how effective this is!

    • Would this paint ‘rust-oleum’ which is suitable for application to plastic, go ok on a vinyl spa cover that has gone dull and weathered.

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