paint outdoor fabric with spray paint

Can You Spray Paint Outdoor Fabric?

In Exterior Paint & Sealers, Outdoor Furniture by Jamie

Exterior fabrics like cushions or patio umbrellas can get a bit faded and tired after a while. They may have mildew and stains on them and the sun will wash out the colors. Luckily, you don’t need to throw them out and replace them because you can paint them instead!

This article will teach you all about spray painting outdoor fabrics including which products to use, what items you can paint, and a step-by-step guide. So, let’s get started!

Can You Spray Paint Outdoor Fabric?

Yes, you can spray paint outdoor fabric, as long as you use the right paint. Don’t just grab a can of old spray paint from the garage and get to work, you need to use specific fabric spray paints.

Spraying old fabrics can be a great way to freshen up cushions on patio furniture, umbrellas, or awnings, so you don’t have to spend money replacing them.

Can You Use Any Type of Spray Paint on Outdoor Fabric?

No, normal spray paint that is designed for use on metals, plastics, and fiberglass is not the right stuff for fabric. You won’t get the finish that you want and you can do some damage to the fabric if you’re not careful. It’s also important to make sure that the paint you use is weatherproof. Outdoor fabric is likely to get rained on and it will be exposed to direct sunlight. Interior products are not designed to stand up to the elements.

What Can Happen if You Use the Wrong Spray Paint?

There are a lot of things that can go wrong if you use the wrong type of spray paint. If you use a normal can of spray paint, it will create a stiff layer over the top of the fabric without soaking into it that much. This layer is likely to crack very easily, and it’s not very comfortable if you’re using it on cushions.

Using oil-based paints with a lot of nasty solvents in it isn’t great either. The VOCs in the paint can leak out over time, so you’re breathing in a lot of harmful substances while you’re trying to relax in your yard. 

Finally, if you use paint that isn’t designed for exterior projects, it will probably run when it gets rained on, creating a big mess in your yard. Even if it doesn’t run, the sun will cause it to fade in no time at all.

There is a reason that there are specific fabric spray paints available, so make sure that you choose a suitable product. 

What’s the Best Outdoor Fabric Spray Paint? Rust-Oleum 358832 Outdoor Fabric Spray Paint, 12 oz, Navy

There are a lot of different fabric spray paints available but my favorite is the Rust-Oleum Outdoor Fabric Spray Paint. I’m a big fan of Rust-Oleum products because they’re always reliable and they give a durable, long-lasting finish so you won’t need to recoat as often as you would with other sprays. Their fabric spray paint has a polyurethane formula, so you get the excellent water-resistance and UV protection of a tough clear coat, but it’s still nice and flexible for fabrics. The color is very rich too.

You get fairly good coverage but be aware that you may need quite a few coats before you get a nice solid color, especially if there is a design on the fabric. It will feel a bit stiff to start with too, but once it has dried and you start using the fabric, it will soften up. 

This fabric spray paint comes in a range of 6 different colors including navy, dark red, and olive green. If you have fabric cushions or patio umbrellas that need a bit of a makeover, Rust-Oleum Outdoor Fabric Spray Paint is ideal.

How to Spray Paint Outdoor Fabrics? (Step by Step)

All products are slightly different, so you need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when spraying your fabric. However, you can usually follow these basic steps:

1. Clean The Fabric

Firstly, you need to clean the fabric before you paint it. Any stains will show through and you will need more coats to get an even color. If there is moss and mildew growing on the fabric, you need to get rid of this too or it will grow through the paint in no time at all.

If you are painting cushions, you may be able to take the covers off and put them straight into the washing machine, which makes life easier. Old cushions that have mold and mildew on them should be treated first. Take half a cup of bleach and mix it with some water in a spray bottle. Apply this to the affected areas and scrub away the mildew before washing the covers.

Cleaning large pieces of fabric like patio umbrellas can be a bit tougher. You will have to remove the fabric and then use a hose and a scrubbing brush, with some fabric detergent, to wash it down. You can use the same bleach and water solution to remove mold and mildew.

Make sure that you rinse the fabric thoroughly after cleaning to remove all of the detergent as this will stop the paint from bonding properly.

2. Wet The Fabric (Optional)

Depending on the type of fabric paint you are using, you may want to wet the fabric first. If the fabric is slightly damp, it helps the paint to soak in more. This will increase drying times a little, but it can help you get a more even finish. However, refer to the instructions on the paint that you are using to see if it specifies whether the fabric should be dry or not.

3. Prepare The Area

Next, prepare the area for spraying. Avoid spraying anywhere near plants as the paint could harm them. Most fabric spray paints are water-based and don’t contain too many harmful chemicals, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Get some old cardboard or some dust sheets to put underneath the fabric so you don’t make a mess when spraying.

4. Apply The First Coat

Now, you’re ready to apply the first coat. The first coat of fabric paint usually looks pretty awful, so don’t be alarmed. It will be fairly patchy as the paint soaks into different areas at different speeds. Just spray with a constant motion so you get an even coating all over, and if you are spraying cushions, get into all of the small gaps around the piping, etc.

Let the paint dry according to the manufacturer’s guidelines before you recoat. This usually takes around an hour, but will be a bit longer if you have wet the cushions first. 

5. Recoat As Necessary

Once it is dry, you can go on with your next coat. Usually, you will need 3-4 coats to get a nice solid color. You might need less if you are spraying a very light fabric, but it could be more if you are trying to cover detailed patterns.

painted patio furniture cushions red paint

What Outdoor Fabrics Can You Spray Paint?

Can You Spray Paint Outdoor Furniture Cushions?

Yes, cushions are one of the most common things that people use outdoor spray paint for. If your patio cushions are faded or stained, simply remove the covers and give them a few coats of paint to make them look brand new.

Can You Spray Paint an Old Patio Umbrella?

Yes, patio umbrellas can be sprayed. They are hit with a lot of rain and can easily grow mold and mildew when they are folded away, especially if they are damp over the winter. So, it’s crucial that you clean them thoroughly before painting them. Give them lots of coats too because they will be exposed to lots of rain and direct sunlight.

Can You Spray Paint an Outdoor Rug?

Yes, it’s fairly easy to spray paint an outdoor rug. In fact, you don’t necessarily need to use fabric spray paint, you can use standard acrylic spray paint if you like. A low pile, synthetic rug will take spray paint very well, but it will be a little stiffer. If you want it to be flexible and softer, you should still use fabric spray paint.

Can You Spray Paint a Faded Awning?

Yes, you can paint a faded awning, but you need to know what material it is made from when choosing paints. If you have a fabric awning, use fabric spray paint and follow the same steps that you would to paint an umbrella or some patio cushions.

However, if you have a vinyl awning, fabric spray paint won’t bond to it. Instead, you need to use an acrylic paint with some fabric medium mixed in. This keeps the paint flexible and stops it from cracking and tearing once it has dried.

Can You Spray Paint a Sun Shade Sail? 

Yes, you can spray paint a sun shade sail. Take the fabric off and paint it just as you would any other fabric. Bear in mind that it sits in direct sunlight, so you need to choose a spray paint that offers good UV protection and won’t fade quickly.

Related Questions

Can the Spray Paint Leak off of Your Outdoor Fabrics?

Fabric spray paint should not leak off of your outdoor fabrics as long as you have applied it correctly. Make sure that it is completely dry before you put it outside and get it wet and you should be fine. The paint may fade over time, especially if you wash it, but it won’t leak out.

Will Spray Painted Patio Cushions Cause Stains on Your Clothes?

No, sitting on spray painted patio cushions won’t leave any nasty stains on your clothes. Once it has dried properly, it will set in the fabric and it’s fine to use. The only time that it will stain is if you sit on it before it while the paint is still wet.

Is Spray Painting Outdoor Fabric Dangerous?

Spray painting anything comes with certain risks, mainly toxic fumes. The solvents and binding agents used in paints can be harmful if you breathe them in. To avoid this, spray your fabric outside in a well-ventilated area and consider wearing a mask if you are worried.

The paint that you’re using could be flammable too, so bear this in mind. Don’t work near any open flames or heat sources, and store the can in a cool, shaded area away from direct sunlight.

Final Thoughts

Spray painting is a great way to take old outdoor fabrics and breathe new life into them instead of throwing them out. It’s also ideal if you want to change the design to fit with your new yard after you have made some upgrades. Just make sure that you use a good quality fabric spray paint that is designed for exterior projects. Always clean fabric thoroughly before you spray too, so you get a better, longer-lasting finish.