How to Upholster Vinyl Dining Chairs

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether you want to spruce up an old dining set or make a flea market find look new again, upholstering vinyl dining chairs isn't hard. And by doing them yourself, you will save money and get exactly what you want.

Unscrew the vinyl dining chair seat from the chair frame with a screwdriver. Remove any staples, using pliers. Take the old vinyl material off the chair seat and set it aside to use as a template for your new covering. Remove any old batting underneath the vinyl material, while setting aside the existing foam to use later. At this point, you are left with just the seat's flat, wooden board.

Clean the chair frame with No. 000 steel wool to remove any rust or paint.

Place a large piece of 1/2-inch-thick quilt batting on a flat, clean surface. Lay the vinyl fabric you removed from the chair on top of the quilt batting. Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut the quilt batting, using the old fabric as a template.

Lay the quilt batting on a flat surface, and place the foam and chair seat facedown on the batting. Hold the batting in place by pushing on the chair seat with one hand, while using the other hand to pull and staple the batting to the bottom of the seat. Space the staples at least 2 inches apart and an inch from the seat edge. Staple the other side the same way. Finally, do the other two sides. Fold and staple the corners as you come to them.

Cut a large piece of patent vinyl with scissors, again using the old material as a template. Lay the cut patent vinyl facedown on a flat and clean surface.

Heat the vinyl with a hair dryer to soften the fabric. Keep the tip of the hair dryer 6 to 8 inches away from the fabric.

Lay the vinyl facedown, and place the chair seat facedown on the material. Pull the patent vinyl over the seat and toward the bottom, using the staple gun to secure it. Space the staples 2 inches apart and an inch from the edge of the seat.

Continue pulling and stapling the patent vinyl material, first on the side opposite the one you just did, and then on the other two sides. Fold and tuck when you come to the corners. Vinyl fabric is thin, so the corners should have only a slight crease.

Staple the corners with the staple gun at least 1 inch from the edge of the chair seat.

Trim any excess batting or patent vinyl with the scissors.

Using the scissors, cut dust-cover fabric to fit the underside of the seat, adding 1/2 inch to the measurements. Fold the edges of the dust cover fabric under, and use the staple gun to secure the fabric to the bottom of the seat.

Screw the chair seat back onto the chair frame with the screwdriver.


Having a helper keep the chair seat pushed down while you staple can save you time and frustration.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • No. 000 steel wool pad
  • 1/2-inch thick quilt batting
  • Sharp scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Patent vinyl
  • Hair dryer
  • Dust cover fabric
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About the Author

Rachel Turner has been writing professionally since 2000, focusing on gardening and home improvement topics. Her articles have appeared online at SlowTravel and in publications such as the "Arkansas Gardeners," "One Step Ahead" and "Writers Now." Turner holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Arkansas State University.