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Dyeing and/or Painting Your Furniture

If you want to change the color of your upholstery, these are the questions you need to consider to decide if you can use products that we carry:

Is the fabric a natural fiber?
The easier to use dyes we carry are for natural fibers, some Nylon, and certain man made cellulose based fibers, like Rayon and Tencel. Dyes for polyester and acrylic need lots of heat for setting, as do dyes for silk and wool. Besides, dyeing do best with complete submersion, with fabric flowing freely and being stirred, for even results. We think think fabric paints are a better option for furniture unless your fabric is removable.

Has it been treated with stain resistant?
Any stain resistance or water proofing will also resist dye and paints. You will get a splotchy job at best.

Can you remove it from the frame and the cushions to submerge it in a dye bath?
The basic dye process requires lots of water: for prewash, dye bath, rinse and wash out of excess dye. Submerging the entire piece of furniture would require a swimming pool! Not a good idea.

Do you know if the fabric will not shrink during the dyeing process?
Taking off the fabric is labor intensive and shrinkage is no good for fitting the fabric back on the furniture. If you are going to do this, be sure the fabric won't shrink.

There are aerosol "spray dyes" or "instant dyes" out there, but we don't carry any for this kind of project. Many of these dyes are in reality pigment + binder products which can wear off onto whatever rubs or sits on it. Also, it is very difficult to spray them evenly with aerosol cans. You will get uneven, splotchy, ugly results unless you are a lot better at it then we were when we tried one of these type products.

If you can't dye it, how about painting it!

You can use fabric paints on almost all fabrics as long as they haven't been treated with anything that will cause the paint to bead up, like Scotch Guard, etc. Spraying or airbrushing them on (outdoors is best - on a warm sunny day) is the easiest way to get a more even coverage, rather than brushing. Rather than heatsetting with an iron on every square inch, you would want to use the Versatex no-heat fixative or Jacquard Airfix mixed in with your paint right before you use it (which requires air-drying for 4-6 days) for good results. Thinner paints for spraying would also be more transparent (like dye) and so any patterns would show right through. The Airbrush ink below works best for spraying, the others for hand painting, unless you thin them.

Jacquard Air Brush Inks (spraying and airbrushing) - these are fairly transparent, but leave very little stiffness on the fabric.

Dye-Na-Flow thin fabric paint (spraying and airbrushing) - this one is the most transparent, and leaves the least feel on the fabric because it is thin and watery, almost dye-like.

Jacquard Textile (handpainting) - medium thickness, medium opacity, medium stiffness.

Lumiere & Neopaque(very opaque) - this paint and the next are the most opaque, and will cover almost anything, but they definitely leave a more stiff feel to the fabric. Both this and the next include some beautiful metallic colors as well.
Setacolor (Opaque)
Versatex Print Inks (for stenciling or printing) - this is a very thick paint, but actually quite soft when applied thinly as with printing or stenciling.

Versatex No Heat Fixative -mixes with all of the above to make them "air cure" instead of needing intensive heat setting with an iron to every square inch. Makes the paint permanent in 4-5 days.

You have to really, really, really want to do this to tackle such a big project. Meanwhile, why not dye some of our Bull Denim, or 10 oz. Cotton Duck to make a throw cover?

Bull Denim
10 oz. Cotton Duck

This info refers to:
Can I dye the upholstery on my furniture?

As always, we recommend testing products, processes, and techniques before you start a large project.

Dharma Trading Co.

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