HomeDIY CraftHow to reupholster a chair

How to reupholster a chair

Don’t throw away your chairs if the upholstery is damaged or too dirty to clean. Upholstering a chair is one of the easiest DIY projects for the average homeowner. It does not require expensive equipment or specific knowledge yet the results are amazing. Done right you can get a whole new chair for a fraction of the cost of a new chair.

With this easy step-by-step guide, you’ll see that you can reupholster a chair like a pro. Let’s get started.

Removal of old furniture

Before you start preparing the new upholstery, you must remove the old upholstery and prepare the chairs. Depending on the type of chair, you may need to take the seat apart to remove the old upholstery. After you disassemble the seat, use the knife and screwdriver to remove the old upholstery. Try to keep your old upholstery in one piece on at least one chair. That way you have the right size to cut your new upholstery and you don’t have to do any measuring and calculating. Check the condition of the cushion after you remove the old upholstery. If the cushion is in poor condition, it is better to replace it as well.

Remove the chair seat

Cut all cushions and new upholstery to the correct size and clean the chair seat thoroughly before starting your project. You need almost no tools for this project. Things you’ll need to prepare are scissors, screwdriver, staple gun, chuck, and possibly a staple remover (if you can’t remove old staples with a screwdriver.

New furniture is being prepared

As we mentioned earlier, if you can remove the old upholstery in one piece, simply lay the old upholstery over the new material and mark the shape with a chalk. If you can’t remove the old upholstery in one piece, measure the dimensions of the seat then add 2 inches on each side for thickness and 2 inches on each side to fold under the seat for stapling. Don’t worry if your material is large, you can easily remove excess material after stapling. After you’ve marked the shape, cut your new fabric to the correct size.

It’s also a good idea to replace the cushions as the old ones probably become wary and flat after sitting on them for years. If you want more comfort, you can use a thick cushion. You must cut the cushion to the exact size of the chair seat. Simply place the chair seat over the cushion material and mark the shape with chalk and then cut the cushion with a sharp knife.

Adding new cushions and upholstery

We are now ready to attach the new cushions and upholstery to the chair seat. First use double sided tape or some regular tape on each side of the chair seat to secure the cushion in position until the new cushion is secure. Don’t skip this step because the new upholstery on the cushion is difficult to move continuously. After the cushion is secured, lay the new fabric upside down on the floor. Take the chair seat with the cushion attached and place it on the fabric cushion. Make sure you have the right amount of fabric on each side.

The next step is very important. Don’t rush it and it’s best if you can ask someone to hold the cloth until you place it on the seat of the chair. First fold the material to one side so that it is evenly spaced from the edges. Place three staples every inch along this side but leave the corners intact. Then take the fabric on the opposite side and pull it to the side. The fabric must be stiff before stapling and that’s when you need help. Have someone hold the fabric while you staple that side. Then repeat the process on the other two sides of the chair seat. Now your new upholstery is firmly in place and you need to take care of the corners. Fold each corner widthwise and place it on the seat of the chair. If you have excess material on the seat of the chair, remove it with scissors or a sharp knife.


Now your new upholstery is finished and you just need to assemble the chair seat to the chair. Before assembling the chair, check the wooden and metal parts for damage and paint them before assembling the chair seat. This way you will have a completely new chair and you will assemble the chair seats. Your new chairs are now ready to present to your family and friends

If you think your old chairs are beyond salvage or you just don’t like the design anymore, check out our tutorial for making a whole new chair from scratch.


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