DIY Projects | Outdoor Living | Patio Furniture

Painting Outdoor Cushions Tutorial

Painting outdoor cushions is an easy and inexpensive way to give your patio furniture new life. Learn how in this easy step-by-step tutorial!

How to Paint Outdoor Cushions: before and after photos of an outdoor sofa with painted cushions

I bought this outdoor sofa about seven years ago. It’s been fabulous… but time and Fozzy have been a bit tough on it. I was planning to replace the cushions this year, but then I started shopping for them and Holy %^**$! they’re expensive. I also couldn’t find replacement cushions in the right dimensions to fit the sofa frame.

The foam and batting was in alright shape, so I decided to give the cushions a refresh instead. I’ve been wanting to test out Rust-oleum’s outdoor fabric spray paint for a while now, and this was the perfect opportunity.


Here’s my outdoor sofa before… As you can see, the cushions were stained, grimy, and splitting at the seams. I’m sure it didn’t help that I left them out this past winter.

old outdoor sofa with stained and ripped cushions
close-up of stained and ripped outdoor cushion

Painting Outdoor Cushions


I’m using Rust-oleum’s outdoor fabric paint in graphite. I wanted a dark color to hide dirt, but the paint comes in several other colors as well.

Fabric absorbs a lot of paint, and my project took five cans. So while this is the most expensive spray paint I’ve ever bought, it was still much cheaper than buying all new cushions or a whole new outdoor couch!

hand holding a can of Rust-oleum outdoor fabric paint

Outdoor Fabric Paint vs. Traditional Spray Paint

Why not paint outdoor cushions with traditional oil-based spray paint or acrylic paint? While you certainly could, I wouldn’t recommend it. Fabric paint has additives that make it softer and more flexible than regular paint. This is important because you don’t want your fabric to feel stiff to the touch or crack when you sit on it. The outdoor paint is also UV-resistant and water-resistant.

After living with the painted cushions for a while, I’ve also found that they’re more water-resistant now than they were before. This is great because it makes them easy to wipe clean!


1. Clean the cushions.

My outdoor cushions have removable covers, so I took them off and threw them in the washing machine with regular detergent plus some bleach to kill any mildew, and then hung them out in the sun to dry.

hand unzipping the cover from a patio sofa outdoor cushion
outdoor sofa cushion covers in a washing machine

If you don’t have removable covers, you can clean them with a rag and soapy water. Or if they’re small enough just throw the whole cushion or pillow in the washer.

2. Re-stuff the cushions.

I thought about spray painting the cushion covers unstuffed, but then thought better of it. My seat cushions have piping, and I wanted to be sure to get paint into all the crevices, so having them stuffed made more sense.

You may need to re-distribute the batting or add more if your cushions are looking sad.

outdoor sofa frame with the cushion stuffing and foam sitting on top of it

3. Repair any damage.

My cushions had a few ripped seams, so I used this inexpensive upholstery repair kit to mend them. Tutorial coming soon!

close-up of an upholstery repair sewing kit

4. Shake the can of spray paint.

5. Spray the first coat.

The technique is the same as an other spray painting project. Hold the can about a foot away from the surface of the cushion. Start slightly off to the side, and move slowly back and forth, over-spraying the sides each time. This will ensure that you don’t get puddled up paint on the edges.

grey outdoor fabric paint being sprayed onto an outdoor cushion

As you can see in these photos, my cushions have piping along the edges. In order to get the fabric paint into all of the crevices, I sprayed once from below and once from above the piping.

outdoor cushion being spray-painted with outdoor fabric paint

Cover the entire exposed surface of the cushion with a light coat. As you can see in the picture below, I didn’t get full coverage with the first coat, and that’s fine.

two large outdoor cushions drying in the grass after being painted

6. Let it dry.

Give the first coat about an hour to dry.

7. Spray the second coat.

This time you’ll want to get better coverage, but still be careful not to pool up too much paint in any one spot.

second coat of outdoor fabric paint being applied to an outdoor cushion

As you can see in the photo below, I got much better coverage this time, but the color is still not completely uniform, so I’m going to need a third coat.

two outdoor cushions painted gray and drying in the grass

Also, just for reference, this is how far my first can of spray paint went. Two coats on the tops and sides of two cushions. Time to order some more!

8. Let it dry.

Give the second coat another hour to dry. The paint will darken slightly as it dries.

9. Spray the third coat.

partially painted outdoor sofa cushions sitting in the grass to dry


Once the last coat has dried, come back and look at the cushions from all angles to be sure you didn’t miss any spots. This is especially important around details like piping, tufting, zippers, or any creases in the fabric.

hand holding the piping on an outdoor cushion to show the part that didn't get painted

11. Flip the cushions over and repeat.

partially painted outdoor cushion

12. Let it cure.

Once you’re finished painting, give the paint two or three days to cure before sitting on them or getting them wet. The instructions say you can wash the fabric after three days, but I haven’t needed to wash mine yet.

Here’s a closer view of the finished painted fabric:

after photo of an outdoor sofa with freshly painted cushions
close-up of the painted outdoor fabric
outdoor sofa with painted cushions

Now put your sofa back together, add a few cute outdoor pillows, and enjoy!

Helpful Tips

  • Whenever possible, it’s best to spray paint outside. Second best is in a garage with the door open.
  • This is best done as a two-day project. Of course you can do other things between coats of paint. But every time I’ve tried to rush a spray paint project, I’ve been disappointed with the results.
  • This project required a lot more outdoor fabric paint that I expected. I originally ordered one can, then quickly ordered two more, and then two more, for a total of five cans. It’s not cheap stuff, but it’s still a lot less expensive than buying all new cushions! I would absolutely use this spray paint again, but next time I would probably try to keep the new color closer to the original cushion color in order to use less paint.

I also repaired the resin wicker sofa frame. You can see the tutorial below:

Wicker Furniture Repair Guide

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