It’s week 5 of the One Room Challenge, and
Have you ever gotten to a point in a project when the bills just keep adding up and you’re tired of pulling out the credit card? That’s where we are with this project. It doesn’t help that it’s been raining almost nonstop without a foreseeable break in the future.
You see, our patio set is about 9 years old by now, but it’s still in decent condition. I suppose we could have bought new patio furniture, but after the unexpected expense of building the kids’ storage shed, I was tired of seeing the budget expand. Thankfully, the weather broke long enough a couple weeks ago to give our patio cushions a much-needed facelift – and all for just over $60.
The easiest way to update an old patio set would be to just buy new cushions. And, if I were inclined to get and use a sewing machine, making new covers could be an option as well. But that all just seemed like way too much effort. So I used my favorite DIY supply – spray paint!
I’ll spray painted just about anything…from furniture to old bottles to old paper crafts. So why not spray paint patio cushions? After a quick Google search, I found a bunch of ways to paint and re-stain furniture fabric: spray paint, latex paint, and even painting fabric dye onto the fabric. Armed with all that information I felt comfortable moving forward with spray painted patio cushions.
But first, I did a test run on one of the throw pillows:
Thank goodness I did that! As you see, it took a full three layers to get decent coverage of the fabric. Feeling confident, I moved ahead with painting the rest of the set and after three very messy days of work, all 8 of our cushions were spray completed. It was a lot of work, but the cushions are no longer drab. They’re bright and cheery and ready for summer. Hopefully they’ll hold up for another nine years.
Key things to know about spray painted patio cushions:
- The first coat or two will look horrible. Really horrible. I would tell you not to panic, but I don’t think there’s any way to avoid it.
- The texture of the fabric will never be the same. The best description I found is that it feels kind of like a screen print on a t-shirt.
- Lightly dampening your fabric first will help reduce the final stiffness. It helps the paint get into all of the natural grooves of the fabric. I forgot to do this until I was already 3 coats in, and noticed a huge difference in how evenly the last coat dried.
- Patterns on prints will show through the paint. I gave the tops of my cushions 5 coats of spray paint, and you can still slightly see the pattern of the moroccan-style fabric on our side chairs. If you don’t love the pattern of your original fabric, you’re likely to be disappointed
- Most tutorials recommend lightly sanding your fabric between coats with sandpaper. Even while trying to be gentle, sandpaper snagged one of the cushions between the first and second coat. After that, I switched to 0000 grade steel wool. Because it’s so fine, it really softens up the cushions. It also helps to get rid of any rough spots that result from spraying. I have no doubt that this is the key to keeping your cushions soft enough to be comfortable. When I was diligent enough to sand very well between every coat with steel wool, the fabric is only slightly stiffer than it was originally. And since these are outdoor cushions, people expect them to be stiffer than indoor fabrics.
- Plan to use a lot of spray paint. I originally planned for 3 coats per cushion, but ended up applying 4 or 5 coats, depending on the pattern and whether it was the top or bottom of the cushion. (yes, I got tired and lazy, and left the bottoms a little less covered)
How to Spray Paint Patio Cushions
- Scrub brush
- Dish soap
- Hose with a jet nozzle
- 1.5 – 2 cans of spray paint per cushion.
- A damp rag
- Steel wool, 0000 grade
- Rubber gloves
- Thoroughly clean your cushions: Mix a small amount of dish soap with water in a bucket and use a scrub brush to scrub all the dirt and grime off of your old cushions. Spray off all the soapy water with the jet nozzle from your hose. Lean the cushions on their corners or on an end to let the water drain, and let the cushions completely dry before moving on. (I gave my cushions two solid days of sunlight)
- Spray painting your cushions: Lay the cushions out on a well-protected surface. If you’re outside, remember to cover any areas that might get overspray from wind. Lightly dampen the cushions with a damp rag. You don’t want to soak your cushions, you just want them to be slightly damp. With the can about 6 – 12 inches away from the cushion, apply the first coat using light, even movements.
- When the spray paint has dried, rub the cushions lightly with steel wool. Be sure to wear sturdy gloves, to avoid injuring yourself. Do not rub too hard or you will rub off almost all of the spray paint. You can wait until the second layer of spray paint to start this process, but the more often you rub it in between layers the softer your cushions are going to be. Carefully dust off all of the steel wool.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you reach your desired coverage. It took me 4 to 5 coats for each cushion.
- Vacuum off the cushions with the with the nozzle of a vacuum to remove all possible steel wool shards and spray paint dust stuck to the surface of the cushions.
Would I spray paint my patio cushions again?
If I knew before starting what I know now, I’m not sure I would have actually spray painted my patio cushions. Don’t get me wrong, I love them. But it took about five coats per cushion to get the coverage I wanted, meaning I purchased about 15 cans of spray paint for my 8 large cushions.
That’s a whole lot of spray paint.
Then again, at $4 per can and $3 for a pack of steel wool, that’s only $63. Obviously a new patio set is significantly more expensive. You can’t even re-cover or purchase new cushions for that price. So if you have the patience, and the time, and if you’re only painting 2 or 4 cushions go for it.
If you’re doing more than that, you might want to try painting with latex paint, fabric medium and a roller. A quart of paint is less than $60, and rolling might (emphasis on might) take less time. Don’t be surprised if you see me give it a try sometime.
Even still, it’s nice to have a cheery patio set amidst all this rain. And at least it didn’t cost a fortune.
What’s the craziest thing you ever spray painted?
Would you spray paint fabric cushions?
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