How to reupholster a footstool

Updated July 20, 2017

Reupholstering the family footstool that's used in a thousand different ways is a great way to get a brand new look for a fraction of the replacement cost. In fewer than 30 minutes, the footstool that's known, loved and nearly worn out can become a prized piece of furniture and last many more years. The most difficult part of this project is choosing the fabric. These instructions are specifically for footstools with removable legs.

Put on safety goggles/glasses.

Unscrew the footstool's legs.

Remove the old fabric by pulling out the staples with needle-nose pliers. Pull the staples out at an angle. They may need to be wiggled slightly to be loosened.

Remove the old padding to expose the framing of the footstool.

Remove remaining foam pieces or dirt with a clean rag.

Measure the top area of the footstool.

Cut foam padding 1 inch larger than your measurement of the footstool's top.

Put tiny drops of glue on the cut foam pad. Put drops of glue 1 1/2 inches from the foam pad's edge, 4 to 5 inches apart. Also put glue in the middle of the foam pad. A little glue is better than too much.

Center the foam pad on the top of the footstool. There will be some overhang.

Let the glued foam pad dry on the footstool top for 5 minutes.

Measure the side of the footstool top.

Figure the fabric size. Add the side of the footstool top measurement to the top area measurement. Add 2 inches. This is the measurement for the fabric. (Example: The top measures 12 inches by 12 inches. The side of the top measures 1 inch. Their total is 13 inches. Add 2 inches. You need a 15-inch-square piece of fabric.)

Cut the fabric to your measurement.

Place the fabric evenly over the top of the footstool with the padding well in place.

Hold onto the fabric and turn over the footstool.

Staple the fabric to the bottom of the footstool. Staple about 1/2 to 3/4 inch from the bottom outside edge of the footstool. A staple every 3 to 4 inches is sufficient. Leave about 1 1/2 inches of excess fabric; if only 1 inch is leftover, that's OK. If the footstool is rectangle, begin stapling on a long side. If the footstool is square, start on any side. Staple a round footstool by envisioning it as a sliced pie. Place your first staple anywhere. Pull the fabric tight and place the second staple opposite the first. Pull the fabric tight and put the next staples between the first two staples, on either side. Continue stapling until complete. Reupholsters of round footstools may skip to Step 21.

Pull the fabric tight directly opposite the side that was just completed and staple that side.

Staple the remaining two sides.

Staple the corners. Pull the fabric tight at the very edge of each corner and staple it.

Grab the fabric on one side of a corner at a time, pull it tight and staple it. Generally, this takes several staples. There will be some pleating in the fabric and overlapping of fabric on the bottom. This is completely normal.

Trim the fabric. Leave at least 1 to 1 1/4 inches of excess fabric beyond the staples. If fabric is trimmed too closely to the staples, it will tear.

Place upholstery tacks on the inside edge of the fabric, one at a time. Tap each tack gently with a small hammer. The tacks hold the excess fabric in place and reduce fraying.

Replace the footstool legs.


The key to reupholstering satisfaction, according to Furniture Upholstery's Tips and Tricks, is choosing the right fabric. Consider what the purpose of the furniture is and who uses it. Also take into account the room's decor. Choose a colour, pattern and fabric weight that best suits your needs for a long-lasting furniture accessory.


Keep fingers and long fingernails away from the nose piece of the staple gun. Never point a staple gun at anyone. Staple guns are not recommended for children. If your staple gun has a lock, latch it for storage.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety goggles/glasses
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Clean rag
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Foam padding
  • Elmer's Glue
  • Fabric
  • Staple gun
  • Upholstery tacks
  • Small hammer
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About the Author

Raeann Hawkins has been writing since 1999, and her short stories have appeared in publications including "The Oklahoma Edge" and "The Florida Spotlight." Hawkins holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Washington.