Adding a fresh coat of paint to your old kitchen chairs is an easy and affordable way to give your kitchen a stylish new look. With some creativity and elbow grease, you can transform dated chairs into charming focal pieces that liven up your entire kitchen. Here’s a comprehensive guide to painting kitchen chairs and making them the star of your kitchen decor.

Why Choose Painted Kitchen Chairs?

Painting kitchen chairs instead of replacing them offers many benefits:

  • Cost-effective – A can of spray paint costs a fraction of the price of new chairs. Painting is very budget-friendly.
  • Fully customizable – You can pick any color and really make the chairs your own. Match your kitchen decor or go bold with a contrasting color.
  • Quick update – No lengthy renovation needed. Simply clean, lightly sand, and paint the chairs to give your kitchen a fresh new look in a weekend.
  • Preserves cherished chairs – Breathe new life into antique or sentimental chairs with a coat of paint rather than replacing them.
  • Environmentally-friendly – Painting and reusing chairs is better for the environment than buying new. It reduces waste.

Prepping and Painting the Chairs

Proper prep is crucial for getting an even, durable painted finish on your kitchen chairs. Follow these steps:

Supplies Needed

  • Sandpaper – 120 and 220 grit recommended
  • Tack cloth
  • Drop cloths
  • Primer – Either multi-surface or adhesion-promoting primer
  • Paint – Latex spray paint is easiest for beginners
  • Brushes and rollers – For the primer and any trim
  • Painter’s tape
  • Rags and paint thinner – For cleanup

Step 1 – Thoroughly Clean the Chairs

Make sure the chairs are free of dust, dirt, grease, and grime which could prevent proper paint adhesion. Use a degreasing cleaner and scuff pads to scrub every inch of the chair.

Step 2 – Lightly Sand the Chairs

Use 120 grit sandpaper to scuff up any shiny or glossy areas on the chairs. This helps the primer and paint bond properly. Then smooth everything down with 220 grit paper.

Step 3 – Remove Chair Hardware

Take off any removable hardware like nails, screws or hinges on the chairs. This makes painting easier and prevents splatters on the hardware. Set it aside for reattachment later.

Step 4 – Wipe Clean with a Tack Cloth

Use a tack cloth to pick up any remaining dust or debris after sanding. This gets the chairs prep for primer.

Step 5 – Apply Primer

For best results, use a multi-surface primer made for plastic, metal and wood. Apply a thin, even layer over the entire chair and let dry fully before painting. The primer ensures better paint adhesion.

Step 6 – Add Paint in Thin Layers

Spray paint works best for full coverage. Shake the can vigorously and apply light, even coats about 8-10 inches from the chair. Let each coat dry fully before adding another. Around 3 coats typically provides ideal coverage. For a smooth finish, use long, sweeping motions while spraying.

Step 7 – Replace Hardware

Once the paint is fully dry, put back on any hardware like screws or hinges you removed before painting.

Painted Chair Ideas and Inspiration

When painting kitchen chairs, you’re only limited by your creativity and color palette! Here are some fun ways to get inspired for your painted chair project:

  • Match your current kitchen color scheme – Paint the chairs in the same hue as your kitchen walls or cabinets for a cohesive look. Use a lighter or darker shade of the same color.
  • Complement your counters or backsplash – If your counters have neutral tones like white, black or gray, bright colored chairs add eye-catching contrast. Or pick out one color from a multi-hued backsplash.
  • Go bold with a completely different color – Try something adventurous like neon green, bright turquoise or hot pink chairs to spice up a neutral kitchen. This creates a fun POP of color.
  • Use specialty paints like chalk paint or shimmer paints – For a distressed cottage feel, use chalk paint and sand away some of the paint after drying. Or choose metallic paint for a glam vibe.
  • Add painted patterns like stripes, polka dots or stencils – Get creative with patterns on the seat, back or legs of chairs. Contrasting patterns really make the chairs stand out.
  • Paint just the seat or certain accents a different color – For example, use white paint on the frame but paint just the seat cover in a vivid teal or sunny yellow.

Tips for Long-Lasting Painted Chair Finishes

Follow these tips and tricks to help your painted kitchen chairs look freshly done for years:

  • Always thoroughly prep and use primer for best adhesion. Remember to lightly sand glossy surfaces before starting.
  • Opt for high-quality exterior spray paints that can better withstand wear and tear over time.
  • Add extra coats of a matte polyurethane sealer on top for added protection and durability.
  • Avoid placing painted chairs in direct sunlight to prevent fading. Use UV-resistant paints if the chairs will get sunlight.
  • For high-traffic kitchens, consider repainting the chairs every 2-3 years to keep them looking pristine. Touch up scratches as needed.
  • Dust, clean and gently wipe down the chairs regularly using soft cloths to maintain the paint. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • If using darker paint colors, gently wipe away dirt and grime before it becomes ingrained so it doesn’t stain over time.

Final Thoughts

Painted kitchen chairs are an easy, budget-friendly way to transform the look of your kitchen. With the right prep and painting technique, you can give new life to old chairs and save money in the process. Have fun getting creative with colors and patterns! Just remember to use proper primer, paint in thin layers and add a protective top coat sealant. Follow the tips above for painted chairs that maintain their just-done appearance for years of use.

Frequently Asked Questions About Painted Kitchen Chairs

How long does it take to paint kitchen chairs?

With proper preparation, painting 4-6 standard kitchen chairs typically takes about 2-3 hours total. Allow for additional drying time between coats. The primer coat and 2-3 thin topcoat layers with drying time in between is usually an afternoon project.

What kind of paint adheres best to kitchen chairs?

For kitchen chairs that will see a lot of wear, exterior latex spray paints are your best bet for good adhesion and durability. Opt for spray paint with bonding primer included or use a separate adhesive primer first.

What are some good paint colors for kitchen chairs?

Popular paint colors for kitchen chairs include vibrant tones like navy blue, emerald green, bright white, tomato red, and sunny yellow. Neutral gray, tan and cream are also versatile. Go bold or match existing colors in the kitchen.

How do you paint chairs without leaving brush marks?

Using spray paint is the easiest technique for brush-free coverage on chairs. If using paint brushes, apply paint in smooth, long strokes in the same direction without overbrushing. Use high-density foam rollers for smoothest results.

How do I protect painted chairs from chipping and scratches?

Adding 1-2 coats of water-based polyurethane sealer on fully dry painted chairs protects the finish. For high-traffic kitchens, periodically reapply the sealer every 1-2 years. Using coasters and placemats also helps prevent scratches.

Can you use chalk paint on kitchen chairs?

Yes, chalk paint can be used on kitchen chairs. The matte, porous finish is ideal for creating a distressed, vintage look as it chips easily when sanded. Seal chalk paint with a wax to protect from moisture and drips.

Is spray paint bad for the environment?

Water-based latex and acrylic craft spray paints are considered less harmful than oil-based. Ensure proper ventilation when spray painting. Properly disposing of spray cans instead of tossing in normal trash also reduces environmental impact.


Painting tired kitchen chairs provides an easy and affordable way to refresh your kitchen’s decor. With proper preparation and application of primer and paint, you can revive old chairs to look like new for a fraction of replacement cost. Get creative with fun colors and patterns that inject your personality into the kitchen. Follow the tips above for long-lasting results, and enjoy the satisfaction of DIY-painted chairs that enliven your space. Painting chairs can make a big visual impact without a big expense.