How to Reupholster Dining Furniture

Updated July 18, 2017

If your dining room is looking bland or dated, give it a quick makeover with new chair seat covers. Dining rooms are mostly full of hard surfaces, so a new fabric treatment will certainly stand out. You won't need much yardage for dining chair seats, so it's a good place to indulge in a luxury fabric. And, unlike more complicated upholstery projects, it's easy to reupholster dining chairs.

Measure your dining chair seats to calculate needed yardage. Upholstery fabric is 54 to 55 inches wide. For chair seats up to 27 inches square, 3/4 yard will cover two chairs. If the fabric has a repeating pattern larger than 27 inches, vertically or horizontally, you'll need more fabric.

Turn your chair upside down. If you see four screws, one in each corner, unscrew them to remove the seat. If you don't see screws, your seat is attached with tack strips. Insert a flathead screwdriver between the seat and the frame. Pry the seat from the chair.

Remove the old fabric from the seat with a staple remover or pair of needle-nose pliers.

Cut out your new seat covers. For solid fabrics, use the old seat cover as a pattern. Place it on your fabric and trace around it with a pencil or tailor's chalk. If the new fabric has a pattern, centre the pattern over your chair seat and pin it in place. Cut the fabric 3 inches larger than the seat. Cut subsequent covers by using the first as a pattern, making sure the fabric pattern is perfectly aligned.

Turn your new seat cover fabric upside down. Place the seat upside down on top of it. Center any pattern as needed. Fold the overlapping fabric over the back of the seat and pull it taut. Place a staple in the centre of each side. Secure the fabric to the seat with staples, working from top to bottom, then left to right, except for the corners. Do one side at a time, and work out from the centre staples. If your chair seat was attached with tack strips, replace them before stapling the fabric to the seat.

Pull each fabric corner toward the centre of the seat and staple it. Don't cover your screw holes. Arrange the remaining corner fabric into small pleats and staple them. Cut away any excess fabric.

Reattach your dining chair seats by replacing the screws. For a chair with tack strips, position the seat on the chair. Cover the seat with a bath towel to protect the new fabric, then hammer the tacks into the chair frame.


If you need to paint, refinish or make repairs to the chair, do so before reattaching the chair seat. Fabric pattern measurements are called repeats. The horizontal and vertical repeats are usually noted on the fabric tag.


Fabric intended for clothing and craft projects is not as wide as upholstery fabric. If you use it, you'll need more yardage. Measure side chairs and armchairs separately. Arms chairs usually have larger seats.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric tape measure
  • 3/4 yard of upholstery fabric for every two chairs
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Staple remover or needle-nosed pliers
  • Straight pins
  • Pencil or tailor's chalk
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Hammer
  • Bath towel
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About the Author

Leah James has been a full-time freelance writer and editor since 2008. With more than a decade of experience in interior decorating, she frequently writes about home design. She studied English literature at Lyon College.