How to reupholster a reclining chair

Updated February 21, 2017

Reupholstering a chair is a solid investment decision for the longevity, appearance and future condition of your furniture. Chairs are not difficult to reupholster. The only trick to reupholstering a reclining chair is to pay close attention to the detail around the foot rest.

Decide on the type of fabric you want to use for your soon-to-be-new chair. This can be fun, as there are countless colours, designs, patterns and styles of fabric to choose from at the store or online. It's best to steer clear of light colours such as white, and also from fabrics that have to be maintained rather strictly, such as satin or silk.

Measure the dimensions of your recliner from each and every angle and record them. Then, slowly remove the upholstery from your recliner, piece by piece, taking note of tricky angles and how they were folded in and attached. This will make it easier when you put the new fabric on yourself. Save all of the pieces so you know what size each of your new fabric pieces must be.

Check the padding and the structure to ensure there is nothing else that needs maintenance or needs to be replaced.

Lay out the new fabric in a large flat working space by your reclining chair. Use your writing utensil and measurements you took and the old fabric pieces to cut out your new upholstery. Make sure to leave an extra inch and half on the outskirts.

Use the sewing machine if necessary for the larger parts of the chair, such as the back or seat cushion. Once on the recliner, use the staple gun to attach the last edge of the fabric to the chair.

Use an electric staple gun to attach each piece of fabric one by one back onto the chair frame, starting with the last piece you removed and working backwards. Make sure to fold in the extra fabric, and trim any stray threads. Once the chair is completely reupholstered, make sure the recliner works and the fabric is not too tight on any angle.


Take pictures of the removal of the first fabric, as it might make it easier to reupholster with the new fabric.


Always be careful when working with sharp objects, such as the staple gun.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Padding, if necessary
  • Chosen fabric
  • Dark writing utensil
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Staple gun
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