Learn all the tips and tricks to get the best results from spray painted patio cushions…and the truth about whether or not it’s worth the the effort.
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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 backyard renovation.
But just because I’m tired of spending cash on our project, doesn’t mean I’m willing to scrap the whole thing.
Oh no, I’m too stubborn for that.
And it’s a good thing, too, because our patio furniture needed a major facelift.
You see, our patio set is about 9 years old by now, but technically it’s still in decent condition.
So there’s no point in purchasing new patio furniture, especially after the unexpected expense of building the kids’ storage shed.
Seriously, it’s so tiresome seeing the budget expand. It was time to evaluate our options.
Options for Updating Our Old Patio Set
1. Buy New Cushions
This is definitely the easiest option…if you have a patio set that fits standard sized cushions. Unfortunately, there are no store-bought options that fit our set.
Plus, patio cushions can get expensive fast! At around $20 per cushion (on the cheap end), my wallet wants to cry.
2. Make New Cushions Myself
Whoa there. I’m no seamstress. It would take a major learning curve for me to actually make decent looking cushions. And, again, outdoor fabric is crazy expensive.
Let’s just say that option is best left as a future project.
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3. Use Stain to Update the Patio Cushions
Now we’re onto something. Fabric stain is cheap and easy to get. But there are some concerns:
- What if the staining process make the cushion covers shrink too much?
- Will the stain run or bleed if the cushions get rained on?
- Stain will change the color, but most likely won’t cover the pattern.
4. Paint the Patio Cushions
Well, there! I’m game for painting just about anything. There are a couple options here: 1) spray painted patio cushions, or 2) using a bonding agent with latex or acrylic paint.
You’ve probably already figured out what I did. Yes, I actually spray painted my patio cushions. And it only cost about $60.
Honestly, I’ll spray paint just about anything…from furniture to old bottles to old paper crafts.
So why not spray paint patio cushions?
Testing Out Spray Painted Patio Cushions
Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about the whole process. so I grabbed one of the patio set’s throw pillows and did a little test run and thank goodness I did!
As you see below, it took a full three layers to get decent coverage of the fabric, though the pattern isn’t completely covered.
But it gave me enough confidence to move ahead and paint the rest of the set.
All it took was three very messy days of work, and all 8 of our cushions were completed.
Don’t get me wrong, 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:
1. The first coat or two will look horrible
No, really. They’ll look completely terrible.
You’ll want to go cry in a panic and wonder why on Earth you chose to spray paint your patio cushions.
Just take a deep breath and know that it will get better…eventually.
2. The Texture of Your Fabric will Never Be the Same
Paint is just not as soft as fabric, and it never will be.
The best way to describe it is that it feels a bit like a screen print on a t-shirt.
If you’re doing this for an indoor chair, you might not like the results. But outdoor cushions aren’t that plush anyway, right?
3. Don’t Use Sandpaper Between Coats
I’m not sure who started that recommendation, but it seems to show up regularly.
Let me tell you, even with fine grit sandpaper and trying to be as gentle as possible, sandpaper did nothing but snag my cushions.
After the first snag, I switched to 0000 grade steel wool and was much happier.
Because it’s so fine, steel wool really softens up the cushions. It also helps to get rid of any rough spots that result from spray painted patio cushions.
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 fabric, anyway.
4. Lightly dampen the Fabric Before You Paint
The water helps the paint get into all of the natural grooves of the fabric instead of just sitting on top. As a result, your cushions won’t be quite so stiff as they could be.
Sadly, I forgot this step until I was already 3 coats in. But I did notice that the fourth coat-with slightly damp fabric-dried much more evenly.
5. Patterns and Prints WILL Show Through
I gave the tops of my cushions 5 coats of spray paint, and you can still slightly see the arabesque pattern on our side chairs.
But, if you don’t love the pattern of your original fabric, you’re likely to be disappointed.
6. 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. Don’t tell anyone, okay?
Now, let’s get started with the good part!
How to Spray Paint Patio Cushions
- Mop Bucket
- Scrub brush
- Dish soap
- Hose with a jet nozzle
- 1.5 – 2 cans of spray paint per cushion. (I used Valspar Project Perfect in Satin finish)
- A damp rag
- Steel wool, 0000 grade
- Heavy Duty Rubber gloves
First, Thoroughly Clean Your Cushions
- Mix a small amount of dish soap with water in a bucket.
- Using a scrub brush, scrub all the dirt and grime off your old cushions.
- Spray off all the soapy water with the jet nozzle from your hose. Make sure your cushions are completely rinsed off.
- Lean your cushions on their corners or on an end to let the water drain. Make sure the cushions are completely dry before moving on (We gave our cushions 2 solid sunny days of drying)
Next, Spray Paint Your Patio Cushions
- Protect your spraying surface with drop cloths or contractor’s paper. If you are working outside, remember to protect any areas that might get overspray from wind.
- Lightly dampen the cushions with a small rag. Be sure not to soak the cushions.
- With the can about 6-12 inches away from the cushion, apply the first coat using light, even movements.
- Allow the spray paint to dry, and then rub the cushions lightly with steel wool. Be sure to wear sturdy gloves so the steel wool doesn’t cut your hands. Do not rub too hard, or you will rub off most of the spray paint. Dust off any steel wool shards before moving on.
- Repeat steps 2 through 4 until you reach your desired coverage. It took me 4 to 5 coats for each cushion.
- Vacuum the cushions with brush nozzle of a vacuum cleaner to remove all possible steel wool shards and spray paint dust.
And, Now you have spray painted patio 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 roughly $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, I say go for it.
If you’re doing more than that, you might want to try painting with latex paint, fabric medium and a roller (or a spray gun!. 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 that 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?
See the Entire Renovation:
I want to extend many thanks to the readers who have enjoyed renovation and home DIY posts over the years. Unfortunately, in January 2018 I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer and had to stop doing home renovation posts due to treatment.
Since that time, my focus has been on making this website an amazing resource for the everyday mom’s parties. Due to their popularity, the DIY posts and tutorials will remain on the website, but comments are now closed. Thank you again and I wish you the best in your DIY endeavors!
Seriously! That is legit. I’m so impressed with this. Time to buy spray paint.
We’re on day five of cold rain. Not just rain, but cold rain. We get a few sunny patches but it looks like all of next week will be like this. I honestly can’t handle it. I want to fly away somewhere warm.
Thanks, Tamara! I hope you got a break from rain over the weekend like we did. Unfortunately we’re back to dreary and wet, though.
I absolutly love this look! Great job! I never knew you could spray paint on cushions. Now I want to buy a paint sprayer 🙂
Hi there Loon! I just used regular old spray paint in the cans. Though a sprayer might work really well.
I use a fine grit sandpaper and never have snags. And the cushions are so soft it’s unbelievable.
Laura Ingalls Gunn says
Leslie the cushions look great and I can’t wait for the reveal! I love the direction the space is going in. As a fellow ORC participant it’s been wonderful to gather some fantastic inspiration. I’d love for you to share your progress at Thoughts of Home on Thursday. Our readers would love to see it. The gathering is at https://www.decortoadore.net
Thanks for the kind words, Laura. I agree that going through this process has been a great way to gather inspiration that I never would have considered otherwise.
I would be scared to death to spray paint our cushions ( and I am pretty certain my husband would think I am crazy). Your post provides great instructions and perhaps the confidence I need to give it a try. Such a great alternative to replacing them which can be so expensive.
Trust me, I was scared too. That’s why I did a test run first on one of the throw pillows. And yes, replacing or recovering outdoor cushions is ridiculously expensive!
What the what???!! This is AWESOME! Totally sharing! Amazing project idea!
Thank you Kristen! So glad you like the end result!
I love it, Leslie! I probably wouldn’t tackle a project of this scope, but you can’t beat the results for the price! I’ve spray painted ceramic vases and metal buckets, and I just spray painted our outside lamp post since it was looking pretty dingy.
If it doesn’t stop raining soon I’m moving to Arizona…
Victoria @DazzleWhileFrazzled says
Such a great idea and I never would’ve thought of spray painting cushions. But considering you can spray paint just about anything, why not outdoor cushions?! Love the color you choose. Ours are old too but way past being salvaged with paint! Visiting from Get Your DIY On.
Marcie Lovett says
I love that you tried this! My cushions, unfortunately, are torn from sun damage, so I have to pop for new ones or sew new covers. New cushions are expensive, so you did a great job for $60.
I love this idea and have seen it many times in many formulations of types of paint used. We will be painting a very well made, nasty looking recliner. It has attached cushions and will not be easy to paint. While it is well made, it is old-school style and take about a week to complete. Hence, I like the idea of a small roller with latex paint.
You mentioned at the end of your article about using latex paint with a fabric medium.
What did you mean by that?
Janine Huldie says
OK, so I definitely never would have thought to do this. I don’t have older cushions just yet, but you bet I will keep this in mind if and when I do! Thanks Leslie 🙂 #happynowlinkup
kristin mccarthy says
I have always been too chicken shit to try this.
I would have never even imagined you could spray paint cushions! Had I known this a few years ago, it would have saved my expensive cushions that I ended up just pitching. Sigh.
Anyway, this looks AMAZING!!!!!!! I’d chill on your patio any day!
Strangest thing I’ve spray painted? A rock. A singular rock. LOL
Tuned In Parents says
That took A LOT of commitment (and paint). They look great. Love the color. You’re better than me. After all the work it took spraying the first one, I would’ve returned all the paint and forked over the money for new cushions. =D
Peachy and her Mommy says
I can’t believe that worked. I must say that when I read the title I thought, “oh we’re going to see a woman destroy her furniture.” but that’s not the case at all. It turned out looking great. I’m in shock. #happynowlinkup
Coffee Mounds & Lipstick Clouds says
Wow! I would have never thought to do this! They turned out great!
Thanks for sharing
I saw your spray painting cushions. i love the idea but may use a brush instead of spray. more control. Saw where someone used Behr exterior.paint in another post. What do you think?
Carolina Twin Mom / Mary Peterson says
Oh my gosh, that green is incredible! Happy, bright and inviting. Who knew you could spray paint a cushion with these results!
Barrie Bismark says
Wow! I had no idea you could spray cushions! They look great. Sounds like a lot of work though.
I had no idea you could do this! Thank you! Does the paint run when the cushions get rained on?
We haven’t had any problems with paint rubbing off or running – probably because of using the steel wool to rub off the excess. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Fabulous with great results! You might want to let readers know that spray paint should really only be used with a mask, it is very toxic!. Also, one can even use left over house paint, especially if mixed with fabric medium. Great advice and great inspiration, thanks so much for sharing on craft schooling sunday!
Helen at Pleasures of the NW says
How do they feel when you sit on them? I’d love to give that a try! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY party!
Angela @ Setting My Intention says
I have never spray painted anything! The cushions do look wonderfully bright and cheery. Great job!
Kathleen Rupp says
WOW!!!! GREAT PROJECT! That is so fun! I love the green color you picked too. The cushions look fantastic! Who knew you could spray paint outdoor fabric. I love this one! Pinning and following:)
This is so interesting! Who knew? I think your cushions look fantastic Leslie! Thanks for stopping in and sharing with us at Brag About It. Pinned to share.
Nikki Gwin says
Well, I thought I had spray painted everything. But now, I see that I haven’t. They look fantastic!!
Roseann M Hampton says
I had no idea you could spray paint fabric cushions! Looks like the steel wool made a big difference!
Michele Michael says
I can’t believe you did this. Excellent idea. Thx for sharing. Found you over at Artsy Fartsy.
Miss kitty says
From a person (me) that has tried re-covering faded outdoor cushions with new fabric, I would definately give this a try next time. Recoving was a lot of work and not that cheap either. Have you priced new replacement cushions as thick as yours? REALLY expensive! I think your cushions look great and I hope you get another 9 years of enjoyment out of them. I saw your post over at “the Handmade Hangout ” blog party.
Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond says
Oh Wow! What a difference and the end result looks fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing your idea with us at #BloggersPitStop. I have shared on social media. Have a great week and see you at next week’s link up! Sue from Sizzling Towards Sixty & Beyond
What an interesting concept! I would never have thought to spray paint them! I’m curious to know how long they hold up! Great article! Thank you! #fdflinkparty
JAxx The Bearded hiker says
I would have never thought to do that, but man, that came out pretty good! Yes, alot of spray paint, but cushions are expensive! Pinned, because…I’ll do this when it’s time!
Aletha Oglesby says
I think your hard work paid off, they look very nice. I almost tried this once, after spending hours looking for new cushions and never finding the right size for my chairs. I finally just got new chairs for other reasons, but it’s nice to know this method works if I ever need new cushions again. Thanks.
I just saw this post from the link party (from The Boondocks blog). I am so going to do this. Thanks for sharing!
Sandy KS says
Wow, this post has given me to the idea to restore my cushions which I planned to throwout and replace. I am going to try doing this first. I am glad I came across your post.
What an excellent idea! I was just getting ready to buy some new pillows. After our pool remodel everything will need a facelift. Thank you! You may have saved me quite a bit of cash!
Grandmas House DIY says
Just awesome! I’ll be featuring this Wednesday morning at the next To Grandma’s house we go link party – thanks for sharing with us!
Christina Makri says
I did it the same last year with mine too and they hold perfectly!!! You can see them here https://artdecorationcrafting.blogspot.gr/2016/06/diy-spray-painted-pillows.html
Thank you for sharing this in Sweet Inspiration Link Party
Michelle Leslie says
WOW, they look so good Leslie. I’m glad you spilled all the beans about how long it took and how many layers of paint you had to use. That helps alot, thank you. It was definitely worth all that time and effort.
Livia James says
My outdoor cushions are not in a usable condition so I am thinking that I buy new all cushions. But when I read your blog about spray painting cushions, now my mind is changed. Now I will spray all my cushions.
I was visiting the Really Crafty Linky Party, and when I saw “Yes, I actually spray painted my patio cushions”, I just knew we were soul mates! I had to stop by to see. I love the results & fantastic tutorial!
Sounds like a great idea for a quick makeover. I was going to ask if they last, but reading other comments it seems they do, which is awesome.
Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party. Pinned.
I, too, spray paint just about everything. But I never would have thought to spray paint cushions! Like you suggested, I would be more likely to paint just a few as I’m not sure I’d have the patience to do a whole set of large cushions. Your outdoor furniture looks great!
Karen, the next best thing to mummy says
What a fantastic idea and a wonderful result, I would never have attempted to do this #fortheloveofblog@_karendennis
Marie Moody says
WOW! Looks like you went out and bought all brand new stuff! Good for you girlfriend~! Sometimes taking the chance when you get a really great idea is worth it! I wish I had some to redo… hehehe! We don’t sit out because I’m allergic to bees & I’m disabled anyway and I don’t move that fast. So, I would really love one of those porch swings those are really cool. Maybe some day I’ll get me one that you don’t have to hang cuz my porch doesn’t have a roof! I have my eye on one too! ~hehe~ Have a great weekend!
I love the bright and summery color you chose. The cushions turned out great! Thank you for sharing on Party in Your PJs!
Can you repost your results? I didnt see the picture. Also which spray paint anc color did you use?
Any of the pictures you see of the patio set with the green cushions are the result of the spray paint technique. I used Valspar Project Perfect spray paint. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the name of the color if it was listed on the can.
That said, I painted these cushions nearly 3 years ago, and it looks like Valspar has changed some of their formulas, and the colors are likely to have changed a bit as well.
Good luck with your project! I hope it all turns out well for you!
Alice V-DIYerfy says
Well the cushions look great but this isn’t a project I would do because I don’t really like to spray paint anything let alone something I’d be sitting on. Maybe it’s just me and it actually is perfectly fine and won’t somehow end up on my clothes. Either way, thanks for this “outside the box” upcycle idea and for sharing it with us at #OMHGWW.
I just finished spraying my outdoor cushions this week and used Duplicolor vinyl fabric paint which is used on cars and dashboards and it did a great job! I did 6 cushions in red and used 10 cans @ $6.49 a can. I purchased the paint at O’Reillys Auto and Autozone. **this idea came from a YouTube video.