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How to Use Spray Dye for Upholstery

how to use spray dye for upholstery

Give your sofa or chair a character lift by dyeing it! Today, we explain how to use spray dye for upholstery, including tips for choosing a suitable spray dye for your project.

When it comes to matching just about any piece of upholstered furniture to a room, you have two options. If you have plenty of time and cash for new fabric, you can reupholster your furniture to change the color. Or, you can make use of dyes that are specifically designed change the color of your upholstery, without having to change the actual material.

If you want to go the easy route for a quick color lift, then dyeing upholstery can give you a new look in a day, with hardly any skills needed. And of the different upholstery dyes available, spray dyes are the easiest and fastest option.

Choosing a Suitable Spray Dye for Upholstery

Spray Dye for Upholstery Features

Fabric Compatibility

While there are several different dyes that can be purchased today, not all of them are designed for every type of material. Before opening your wallet, take the time to learn more about the fabric or material that you will be dying. This is crucial to ensure that the spray dye that you purchase is compatible with your particular type of fabric.

Color Options

You will have a wide selection of colors to choose from when it comes to spray dye for upholstery. You need to purchase something that will match your room and other furniture. It is also possible to purchase some spray dyes in customized colors, which will allow you to mix for a specific color or shade.

UV Resistance

If you plan on placing your furniture near a window, or even how on a porch, it is important to make sure that whatever dye you purchase is also UV-resistant. It’s not uncommon for DIYers to purchase the cheapest spray dye they can find, only to realize months later that the color is fading under the sun. By selecting an option that offers UV resistance, you can ensure that your furniture will maintain its vibrant color for years to come.

Ease of Application

Take your time to research the various dyes available on the market, and select one that is user-friendly and easy to apply. While some dyes are simple aerosol cans, not all will provide you with the ability to coat your upholstery evenly and smoothly. Make sure to select a product that is advertised as easy to apply.

Drying Time

Don’t forget that you will also need to wait for the dye to completely dry. You do not want a dye that will drive too quickly, because it may dry out before you have finished spraying all of the fabric, which may make it more difficult to evenly coat the furniture. At the same time, you also don’t want something that will take forever to dry properly.

spray on dye for upholstery comes in cans like spray paint
Spray on dye for upholstery comes in cans, much like spray paint.

Popular Brands of Spray Dye for Upholstery

To help you select the best spray on dye for upholstery projects around your home, car and even your boat, here are a couple of popular spray dyes for fabric, vinyl and leather.

Dupli-Color High Performance Vinyl and Fabric Spray

Manufacturer Website: https://www.duplicolor.com/product/vinyl-and-fabric-coating/

  • Compatibility: Vinyl, Fabric, Leather
  • Color Options: Variety of Colors, Neutrals, and Bold Shades
  • UV Resistance: Yes, UV Resistant
  • Ease of Application: Easy Touch Nozzle for Precise and Even Spraying
  • Drying Time: Quick Dry Formula

Angelus Leather Paint

Manufacturer Website: https://angelusdirect.com/collections/paint

  • Compatibility: Leather
  • Color Options: Wide Range of Colors and Custom Shades Available
  • UV Resistance: Resist UV Fading
  • Ease of Application: Applied Using Sponge
  • Drying Time: Quick Dry Formula

How to Use Spray Dye for Upholstery

Once you have selected the perfect dye for your particular upholstery project, it is time to finally use that dye to change the color of your furniture. Before you begin this project, make sure that you have all of the essential tools.

Essential Tools for the Project

  • Spray Dye
  • Drop Cloth or Plastic Sheets
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Ventilation
  • Protective Gear
  • Gloves

Next, let’s take a look at how to dye your upholstery, step-by-step.

How to Dye Upholstery (Instructions)

Prepare the Upholstery Surface

Before you can begin to apply any spray on upholstery dye, you must make sure to prepare the upholstery surface accordingly, as follows.

Clean the Surface:

Start by using a mild detergent and sponge to clean the surface of the upholstery. This is important as you need to remove any dirt, grime, or existing stains that may interfere with the ability of the dye to adhere to the fabric.

Dry Thoroughly:

Once you have cleaned the surface, provide ample time for the furniture piece to dry out completely. If the fabric is too wet when you begin to apply the dye, the dye will not stick properly. This will result in a splotchy-looking finish, and may even end up destroying the furniture piece.

Protect Surrounding Areas

While you’re waiting for the upholstery to dry, this is a good time to start preparing your work area. Working with spray dye for upholstery is very similar to spray painting. Since you are working with a product that is intended to permanently color fabric, you will need to protect the area surrounding the furniture piece from potential overspray.

If you have ever used spray paint outside, then you probably noticed that there are speckles of paint surrounding the area that was being painted. Protecting the area around the furniture with drop cloths will prevent this from occurring.

Mask Off Areas:

If necessary, mask off any area that will not get covered by the dye. To accomplish this, make sure that you have a good roll of painter’s tape, and carefully cover any legs, buttons, or other decorative elements that you do not want to change the color of.

Test the Spray Dye

Make sure that you test the spray dye, to ensure that the color is just right.

Spray a Small Area:

Take the time to apply a little bit of dye to an inconspicuous area, and allow it plenty of time to dry before moving on to the rest of the piece. Not only will this help to ensure that the color is just right, but it will allow you to check if the spray nozzle is functioning the way supposed to.

Check Drying Time:

By spraying a small area to test the dye, you will be able to check the actual drying time. This test area will allow you to assess just how long it will take for the dye to dry once it has been applied to the rest of the furniture piece, compared to the time that the manufacturer provides in the instructions.

You might wonder whether you can simply test the color on a scrap piece of fabric, before starting. It depends. If doing this, the scrap piece of fabric should be as close as possible to the original color of the upholstery, because the original upholstery color may affect the final color of the dye. For example, if your test fabric is white, but your upholstery is blue, then the test piece will not necessarily reflect how the dye will look when sprayed over the blue upholstery.

dyes used outdoors must be UV resistant
Spray on dyes for upholstery in outdoor settings must be UV and weather resistant.

Apply the Spray Dye

After you have tested the dye in a small, inconspicuous area and determined that it is perfect for the job, is time to apply the spray dye over the entire piece of furniture.

Shake the Can:

Before you begin to spray, always make sure to shake up the can completely. Just like paint, the color pigment and base material can separate if left out for even a short period of time. To ensure that there is an even distribution of color pigments throughout the base liquid, take the time to shake the container thoroughly.

Hold the Can at a Distance:

You’ll need to keep the spray nozzle roughly 6 to 8 inches away from the surface of the material and maintain that distance the entire time. If the nozzle gets too close to the fabric, it can oversaturate and result in a splotchy look.

Apply in Even Strokes:

You need to spray the furniture in long even strokes, slightly overlapping each pass to ensure an even coverage. If you have ever seen someone professionally paint a car, you will want to follow a similar pattern, starting from one edge over to the other. You will also want to avoid stopping abruptly and always tilt the nozzle away from the fabric when you get to the end to prevent oversaturation.

Multiple Coats if Necessary:

Although it may be possible to reach the desired color with a single coat, there may be times when you will need to apply multiple coats. When working with multiple coats, it is important to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the.

Allow for Drying Time

Always make sure to allow plenty of drying time before making use of the furniture piece.

Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions:

When you test that small piece of fabric, you can roughly estimate just how long the drying time was for the spray dye that you chose. At the same time, the manufacturer may also provide numbers. Always make sure to use whatever number is greater when determining just how long you need to allow for drying time.

Ventilate the Area:

Because you are dealing with an aerosol, it is important to make sure that the area in which you are working is well-ventilated. Not only will this prevent the dye from splattering everywhere, but it will also help to improve the drying time and reduce the amount of fumes that are introduced in the process.

Final Touches

Before you can call the project done, it is time to inspect the furniture piece and apply any final touches if needed.

Inspect the Results:

Start by inspecting the furniture piece once the final coat has dried completely. You will want to look for any uneven coloring in areas that may need additional dying. Take the time to walk around the piece completely and view it from multiple angles to ensure that it is covered completely and evenly.

Remove Masking:

If you are satisfied with the outcome, then you can safely remove any of the masking tape that you applied earlier. Once the dye has completely dried, even if it has not completely cured, it is safe to remove the tape since you will not be spraying it again.

Wait for Full Cure:

Chances are, the product that you purchase will give you 2 times for drying. The first time is the initial dry period and the second time is the final cure period. Before you begin to use the piece of furniture, make sure to give it plenty of time for the dye to fully cure.


There you now have your re-colored piece of furniture, using spray on dye for upholstery. Using dye to recolor your furniture is one of the quickest ways you can change the look of a piece of furniture, however, as such it can be fraught with a few issues. Firstly, spray dyeing can give a sort of hasty ‘hacked’ look which is rough around the edges, which is ok if you’re going for a more punk or grunge style, but totally inappropriate for an elegant dining chair set. Secondly, although it will be recolored and therefore superficially ‘refreshed’, the fabric will still be the same old worn and possibly damaged material it was to start with.

If you have an old piece of furniture, with tears and other damage on the upholstery, a better although more time-consuming option would be to reupholster it. By replacing the the old and worn upholstery fabric, it will not only look better but it will also be more comfortable and hygienic. If you’re interested in learning how to reupholster your furniture instead, check out our guides on how to upholster a chair or sofa cushion, how to reupholster an office chair and how to upholster bar stools. These articles will give you a good idea of whether dyeing or reupholstering if a better option for your piece.

Happy upholstering!