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Can You Paint Outdoor Cushions?

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One thing is sure; no home feels complete during the spring and summer months without beautiful cushions to accentuate the patio and outdoor furniture.

Even more, so is having them painted in unique designs and colors to match the beautiful blooms in the garden.

multicolored pillow cushions with zig zag patterns against a wall

Many cushion lovers prefer to paint the cushions themselves, but the question many home decorators continue to ask is, “can you paint outdoor cushions?”

Yes, you can paint your outside cushions, and it makes for a great DIY project. Regular paint will make the cushions feel stiff so if you want softer cushions, look for fabric paint at your local craft or hardware store.

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Reviving the Old Cushions 

Don’t be downcast if you’ve taken the cushions from the attic or whichever storage area to find that they look a bit worn.  

Admittedly, outside furniture – primarily cushions – can become quite beat up from facing the natural elements outside and being moved back and forth from the storage. 

Regardless of whether your cushions are in perfect shape, fashion trends shift. Rustic-style pillows with palm trees or specific floral patterns were popular several years ago; however, it is clear that they’re out of style now!

It can be costly to replace your pillows. It’s unfortunate that the patterns available at large box stores aren’t unique, fashionable, or trendy. Stitching your cushions is ever a possibility, but very few people have the time or patience to deal with that. 

Don’t worry, fellow do-it-yourself cushion designers, we’ve got a solution for this problem. Paint them! As I mentioned earlier, painting your outdoor cushions is an ideal cost-saving solution and fun project. You’ll be amazed at how comfortable, durable, and beautiful they are. It’s also a fast process.

How To Paint Your Outdoor Cushions

Clean your cushions of any dirt or filth with soap, spray nozzle on your hose and brush for any hard to remove dirt. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Make sure you stir the paint well since it can separate if it’s been sitting for a long time. With a long paint stick, make sure to scrape the bottom of the paint for a consistent color.

Many people thin the paint to make sure they get better smoother coverage on the cushion without large paint clumps with thick paint. 1/2 cup water per gallon of paint is a good start for regular paint. Place the initial coat of paint on the surface using a good quality paintbrush. I’ve had great painting success with many of the Purdy brand paintbrushes.

Brushstrokes will result if you use a low-grade paint brush. Always make sure you’re using a good brush! Invest in a paintbrush that is best for the type of paint you plan on using.

Natural bristle is best for (oil-based paints, stains, clear coat) and (chalk, milk or clay) paints. Good quality synthetic bristles are great for water-based paints and stains as well as acrylic paints.

With the thinned paint, you can start to apply your paint evenly around the cushion. Just be sure to use even, smooth strokes when applying. Allow the first layer to dry completely before applying a second coat.

It’s essential to keep in mind that the time fabric takes to dry is much longer than furniture. It might take several hours for the initial layer to dry completely. You may need multiple coats to get even coverage all around the cushions, possibly as many as 6-8 coats.

Sand your cushion with 400 grit sandpaper to smooth out any residual paint lumps, if any. In terms of sanding the surface, we’re talking about a fast, really soft technique to loosen up the paint just a little bit. Don’t go out and get all sweaty. Only a couple of strokes all around the surface is required and will make the cushion a little bit softer. They are now ready to add style to your outdoor space!

You can find different products that are available online or at your local hardware store if you want your cushions to have an additional weather-resistant finish

How to Spray Paint Your Outdoor Cushion

Ok, this sounds weird but believe me, it’s a thing. If you step into any gardening store or even a fabric store, they’ll endorse the idea.

Just as above, you want to make sure that the cushions are cleaned thoroughly. You can accomplish this by using dishwashing liquid, spray nozzle on your hose and a brush or cloth. 

Once you’ve removed all the dirt from the cushion, it’s time to leave it out to dry for several hours in the sun or overnight.

Now it’s important to know that the amount of spray paint you’ll be using is dependent on whether you plan to change the color of your cushion completely. Even the smallest project could take 2 or more cans of spray paint. It’s always a good idea to wear gloves.

The project can be completed quickly, and the paint dries in a few hours instead of a few days, like when you’re using other types of paint. We suggest going with a close color to your current one, especially if you’re doing this on a budget. Otherwise, you may end up using more cans on each cushion.

If you’re changing colors from one extreme to another, don’t be discouraged if it looks ugly initially and even after a second layer. The third time will be the charm, and you’ll start feeling accomplished.

I should have pointed out earlier that spray painting your cushion is only effective on those that have been heavily utilized. If you have a newer cushion with UV resistance, it would not absorb the paint readily and would be a waste of paint.

The cushion doesn’t have to be stiff, as long as you stick to fabric spray paint. In the end, it will look beautiful but not perfect. If you desire exceptional cushions, buying new ones will be the ideal option. 

Fabric Paint For Outdoor Cushions

Now that we showed you show paint your outdoor cushions, you’re probably wondering what where can I get fabric paint. Be careful to look for fabric paint and not fabric dye as they are very different.

Unfortunately, If you want to see the paint in person before your purchase, that may not be possible. Even Joann’s and Michaels stores only carry limited colors of very small fabric paint bottles. They mostly have the fabric dyes used for tshirts, which won’t produce the same results for cushions.

Sometimes Home Depot or Lowes will carry Rustoleum fabric paint spray but I don’t believe they have regular fabric paint. The colors will be limited in the store for the fabric paint spray.

Amazon will carry the widest variety of fabric paints and fabric spray paints in many different colors. The only problem is viewing a color online will sometimes look very different in person.


Finally, once you’ve tried these proven methods to paint your outdoor cushions, you might not want ever to buy new ones. If you have old cushions that you’re about to throw away, trying painting them first. If only costs a little bit for paint and is an excellent beginner DIY project.

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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