Painting Our RV Couch with Chalk Paint

Painting Our RV Couch with Chalk Paint

When we were RV shopping, we looked inside many many RVs. There might have been others that looked a bit nicer but everything else about this one really fit our needs: it was in our price range, had low miles, had a solar panel and inverter all ready, and the previous owners had taken great care of it. I really disliked the look of the brown and tan striped furniture but we weren’t going to let that be a deal breaker. A few months after we’d purchased Fendy, I was looking into options for updating the couch and learned about chalk paint – I decided to give it a try! Long story short, it worked like a charm and even 2.5 years later the color is holding up great. It really dramatically changed the look of our living space and it’s still one of my favorite updates that we did on Fendy.

The outdated interior of an RV
I do NOT miss this old fabric!

A great thing I learned from the Annie Sloan chalk paint website is that it’s “a non-toxic and virtually odour-free paint that has minimal volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at 0.02g/l VOC” which means there aren’t terrible fumes during or after your project. They DO say that the wax can potentially cause lightheadedness but that there is nothing inherently harmful in the wax and it has no lasting harmful effects. Still, pregnant women might be more susceptible to the lightheadedness and are advised to have someone else apply the wax.

Here’s the video I made of my process. I’ve also included some detailed directions written out below:

HOW TO DO IT YOURSELF!

I used Annie Sloan brand chalk paint, and what you’re doing is essentially dyeing the fabric with the paint, and then sealing and softening it with wax – which when it dries, does not feel waxy at all!

Not all fabric will react equally to being painted. It’s best to test paint in a small area that isn’t visible so you know what to expect.

The painted fabric will be stiff, but you’ll be sanding it between paint layers, which helps to soften it, the final coat of wax helps to soften it, and just using the furniture over time will also help to soften it.

I should also note that there are areas of my couch that I didn’t sand as thoroughly as I should have and the roughness does snag certain fabrics, like rayon. It’s definitely possible to sand it again, even once you’ve completed the project, and just add more wax there when you’re done.

I used two coats of paint and sealed it with one coat of wax. You can still see a bit of the fabric design through the paint – but for the design I have, I actually like that and it’s why I didn’t do any more layers of paint.

WHAT I USED:

  • 2.5 cans (32 oz each) of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (I used the color: Provence)
  • 1 can of Annie Sloan Clear Wax (16.9 oz)
  • 1 wax brush
  • 1 spray bottle with water
  • Paint brushes (I used a standard 4” size & a small edging brush)
  • Sanding Block with 220 grit sandpaper
  • Small container to hold the paint & water mixture (be sure to mix thoroughly! I used a painting stir stick)
  • Drop cloth/Plastic sheet to protect the floor and walls
  • Painters tape (to protect any wood on the furniture or other components you don’t want to be painted)
  • Mircrofiber cloth (to clean off the dust from sanding)

(Tip: the paint brushes and wax can all be cleaned up with warm soapy water)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. First you want to make sure the surface you are painting is clean and free of dust, debris, or pet hair – this would all get sealed in otherwise.
  2. Put down a drop cloth or sheet of plastic to protect the floor against paint drips. Since my motorhome’s couch is bolted to the ground and nearly touching the walls, I also taped plastic against the wall to protect it as well.
  3. In a small container, create a mixture of roughly 30% water, 70% chalk paint.
    • This will dilute the paint so that it absorbs more readily into the fabric, and also so that the fabric it’s not as stiff as it would be if you were using 100% paint.
    • For my second coat, my mixture was 50/50 and that also worked just fine – and helped me to use less paint
  4. Spritz a small section of the couch with water in a spray bottle.
    • The damp fabric will absorb the paint more readily and evenly.
    • You don’t want the couch to be soaking wet –a light misting will be fine.
    • Working in small sections will help the painted edge to stay “wet” and give a more even look
  5. Mix your paint and water thoroughly then use a paint brush to apply it to the section you’ve gotten damp. Work the brush in different directions to help work it into the fabric. My fabric had slight variances in height, so this was all the more important for my couch. woman painting couch
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you’ve covered the couch in a single layer of paint
  7. Let the paint on the couch dry completely. I waited 24 hours just to be on the safe side. blue couch
  8. Using a sanding block with 220 grit sandpaper, lightly sand the entire painted surfaces in preparation for the next coat of paint. This will lighten the paint but not to worry, when you apply the next coat, or the final coat of wax, the richness of the color will return.
  9. Clean the couch of all sanding dust. I used a mircrofiber cloth to wipe it all away
  10. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to apply a second coat of paint.
    • For my second coat of paint, I diluted my paint and water mixture a little more, a 50/50 mixture, to make sure I had enough paint. This seemed to work just fine.
  11. It is up to you how deep you want the color to be and hence, how many layers of paint you want to apply.
    • I put two coats of paint on my couch.
    • If you are applying more layers of paint, you’ll want to repeat steps 4-9 each time
  12. Once you’ve applied all the paint layers you want, sand the couch a final time and wipe off the sanding dust with a microfiber cloth.
  13. Apply a coat of wax, using a wax brush with a light amount of wax on it, work in small sections until the couch has been covered
  14. Let the wax dry completely: 24-48 hours depending on humidity and temperature – once dried it will no longer feel waxy

Voila! There are kind of a lot of steps but once you get going, the actual painting part goes fairly quickly – it’s the drying time that makes this project take a few days.

Overall I spent $110 (on the paint, the wax, and the brushes) and I’m super happy with how it turned out. Two years later, it’s still looking fantastic (see below). The wax has probably worn away, but it did it’s job of softening the fabric. You can always apply more layers of wax at any time if you’re trying to use that to help make the fabric a bit moisture resistant. Cheers all!

a blue couch painted with chalk paint

Maggie Pitcher

Hi, I’m Maggie! I enjoy exploring new cities but my real passion is spending time in nature. Hiking, kayaking, and photography all fill my cup to the brim, as does spending time with my sweet little family. We’ve been living and traveling in our motorhome since 2016 and it’s one of the best decisions we ever made. When I’m not scrambling up waterfalls or researching our next stop, I spend my time video editing for our YouTube channel, blogging and taking pictures – we love this way of life and have no plans to stop anytime soon!