How to Paint Vinyl Seats

by Abaigeal Quinn

Brighten up your old or dingy vinyl seats by working with the same products professional car restoration companies do. Vinyl cleansers, primers and color coatings are available for the retail consumer that can restore vinyl seats quickly and easily. The cost of these vinyl restoration products is marginal and may be used by the novice to achieve professional-looking results in less than a few hours time.

Clean the seat you will be painting with a solution of 1 tbs. dishwashing detergent to one gallon of water. Scrub surface, nooks and crannies with a soft-bristled brush to get caked-in dirt or debris. Remove soap residue entirely with plain water and a microfiber cloth. Dry well before proceeding.

Put on a face mask for the fumes and properly ventilate the area. Apply a vinyl preparation treatment such as SEM Vinyl Prep (a no-rinse formula) to the seat with a soft cloth, working it into the seat to help remove oils and other hard-to-remove dirt and grime.

Prime the seat by applying a vinyl primer such as SEM Sand Free Primer or Bulldog's Adhesion Promoter. Spray on 2 to 3 light coats, covering entire vinyl surface. Allow five to ten minutes in between coats.

Let the seat rest for 15 minutes if using the Bulldog Adhesion promoter or for the time stated in the manufacturer's directions on the vinyl primer; SEM's vinyl paint should be applied while the seat is still wet with the primer.

Apply a color coat such as SEM's color coat. Do a light dusting the first coat and allow ten minutes in between coats. You may need four to six coats, depending on the color you are covering and the size of the seat. Be sure to get into all the nooks and stitching.

Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours before touching or moving seat.


  • check Auto paint supply stores are the best place to locate top vinyl seat paint; they supply professional body shops with paint.


  • close Be careful not to overspray when applying color, which can cause puddling.

Items you will need

About the Author

Abaigeal Quinn works as an international entertainment broker in the United States. She is a former news editor and insurance agent who began writing for a daily newspaper in 1995.