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Fabric paint is a great way to refresh something old. You can also use it to design new things, or add details to your existing outdoor textiles. If you’re thinking of painting something that will stay outside, though, then you’ll need the right supplies! Here’s the best outdoor fabric paint for every project.
Best Outdoor Fabric Paint
Just like with any DIY project or work of art, having the right materials will determine how successful you are. For example: if you’re painting a throw pillow to leave on the patio but use water soluble paints your artwork is going to run.
All the fabric paint on this list was chosen specifically for outdoor use. That means it’s made to resist weather, UV rays, and will adhere to a variety of textile surfaces including outdoor rugs, patio furniture, pillows, tablecloths, and throws.
What Can I Paint With Outdoor Fabric Paint?
I sometimes think people don’t realize how much potential fabric paint has both inside and outdoors. You can use it to transform bland patio cushions into bright colours (which is great if you have a mismatched set) or add detail to throw pillows to create unique designs.
Here are some ideas for textile painting projects:
- Cushions on your patio furniture
- Throw pillows
- Adding details to an outdoor rug
- Labelling throw blankets or towels
- Custom painted shoes
- Fabric storage baskets or bins
- Lamp shades
- Welcome mats
How Can I Make Outdoor Fabric Paint Last Longer?
Fabric paint is designed to be durable and hold up to the elements. Most fabric paints are also washable, which means you can clean dirty fabrics, but also that they won’t run if left out in the rain.
That being said, any paint can chip or fade over time when outside. I recommend coating your outdoor paint projects with a protective waterproof and UV proof spray.
One bottle lasts a long time and it can really extend the life of your paint projects (and also just anything that goes outside and gets wet including shoes.)
Best for Large Areas – Rust-Oleum Specialty Outdoor Fabric Paint
This outdoor fabric paint is essentially spray paint. That means that it’s going to be less precise than other types of paints. It also covers a larger area relatively easily – which makes it perfect for bigger projects like pillows or upholstery.
You can also use this spray paint to stencil designs onto things. Unlike regular spray paint, it doesn’t get super hard on your fabrics and still feels soft to the touch.
- Spray can makes it easy to apply paint over a wide surface
- Soft to the touch and water/fade resistant
- Comes in a few colour options
- Fabric absorbs paint so you will have to apply multiple coats (it’s not quite like normal spray paint)
- If there’s a pattern or dark colour on your fabrics you may not get full coverage
- Spray paint can be messy
Best Outdoor Acrylic Paint – Arteza Outdoor Acrylic Paint
If you’ve already used acrylic paint for other projects you know how easy this stuff is to work with. This pack comes with a variety of vibrant colours, and they can be mixed to create new pigments too.
Acrylic paint can be applied with a brush and is great for adding patterns or other accent artwork to outdoor textiles. Unlike other paints, acrylics will sit on top of the fabric so you will get some roughness when applied.
- Can be painted on with a brush so there’s no limit to your creativity
- Multi-purpose paint for all kinds of outdoor projects
- Colours come out bright when you paint
- Acrylic paint chips off easier than other paint types
- Paint comes out thick which makes it hard to work with sometimes
- Brush strokes may be visible
Best for Artists – Jacquard Products Fabric Paint
Although this isn’t strictly an outdoor fabric paint it’s definitely worth mentioning because it still holds up very well outside. It’s most commonly used to paint custom canvas shoes and is washable.
This paint is super versatile and can be applied with a brush to all kinds of fabrics including natural and synthetic fibres and both porous and semi-porous materials. The only downside is that you have to heat set this paint – so keep that in mind when you’re choosing paint for outdoor projects.
- Applied with a brush so you can create all kinds of designs
- Works on a variety of fabrics and textiles
- Washable and fade resistant
- Might rub off if you use it on patio furniture (better for smaller designs like pillows)
- Heat setting is required so some outdoor projects (like upholstery) might be tricky to set
- Can get pricey, especially if you want to paint in multiple colours
Best Outdoor Upholstery Paint – TULIP ColorShot Outdoor Upholstery Spray Paint
Sometimes things are better when they’re single purpose, not multi. What I love about this paint is that it comes as a 4 pack which should be enough paint to complete most upholstery painting projects.
It’s designed to spray easily into cushions, pillows, and other outdoor textiles – including synthetic fabrics. The best part, though, is it dries easily and doesn’t rub off on clothing when you sit down.
- Great for covering large surface areas
- Designed not to rub off on clothes or fade in the sun
- Comes in a variety of colour options
- Does not go on as easily as regular spray paint
- A lot of paint is needed to cover a surface
- Great for projects that would be too expensive to replace or reupholster, but still pricey
Best Glow in the Dark Outdoor Fabric Paint – Tulip Dimensional
This paint isn’t specifically outdoor paint, but since it’s machine washable it should hold up fine in the sun and rain. You can use it on virtually any surface, including fabrics, to give anything some glowing accents.
Glow in the dark paint “charges” in the sunlight, so it’s great if you have your painted fabrics in a sunny area during the day so they glow at night.
- Can make any fabric glow in the dark
- Easy to apply (comes in a tube)
- Washable, non-toxic, and crack/peel resistant
- Small tubes of paint so these are better for accents rather than larger surfaces
- Paint sometimes looks odd during the day time depending on your design
- Doesn’t glow for a long time (but looks great under a black light)
What is the Best Outdoor Fabric Paint?
All of these paints are great for their specific uses, so it really depends on the project. As an all around outdoor fabric paint, though, the Rust-Oleum Specialty Outdoor Fabric Paint is my personal favourite.
I like working with spray paint, and that brand has always worked well for my DIY projects. Although it doesn’t apply quite the same as spray paint, and it needs a lot more to cover (thanks to textiles being absorbent) it still gives that clean finish that I want when painting.
The nozzle is easy to work with and you get good control. Which is great if you’re creating designs on pillows or rugs with stencils.
You’ll need some patience to wait for the paint to dry but once it is you don’t have to worry about it rubbing off on your clothes after painting cushions.
Unlike regular spray paint, though, this stuff is a bit softer – which means more comfortable furniture. (And trust me, I have used regular spray paint on outdoor upholstery!)
My biggest criticism is that if you’re used to working with standard spray paint, be ready to use a lot more paint than you’re used to. Compared to the cost of new cushions this can be a real money saver, especially if you have some unique furniture pieces to redo.
For small, detailed projects, go with the acrylic paint set or the Jacquard fabric paints. They hold up well too and can give you a lot better details than spray paint can. The glow in the dark paint is also a lot of fun!
Best Outdoor Fabric Paint – Final Thoughts
If you choose the best outdoor fabric paint for your project it’s going to go a lot better! Make sure you read the reviews and check that whatever paint you buy is good for the textiles you’re working with.
When you’re working with outdoor fabric paint make sure you read the instructions. Most paints need time (or in the case of the Jacquard paint, heat) to set properly. If you mess with them or leave them in inclement weather before that it might ruin the paint job.
It’s also important to be patient when you’re painting, especially with fabric paints. Textiles tend to absorb a lot of the paint so you need multiple coats to get even coverage. That also means needing more paint than you’re used to for other projects.
Most people have good luck painting outdoor fabrics, so it’s definitely worth the time!
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