How to re-cover a chair with leather

Updated April 17, 2017

A chair's upholstery eventually will wear, or become damaged or outdated. Re-cover an old chair with leather to add elegance. Reupholstering not only is less expensive than purchasing a new chair, but is also something to consider when the frame is of quality craftsmanship. The frames usually are the most important component of a piece of furniture, determining the quality and lifespan of the piece.

Remove upholstery tacks and staples with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

Pull off the leather fabric gently to avoid ripping the fabric, as it will be used as a template for the new fabric. Remove batting as well.

Insert new batting and tack it into place with upholstery tacks and a rubber mallet. Place the batting into the chair arms, backing, and seats.

Place the old leather fabric on top of the new leather fabric and cut around the old fabric with leather shears, leaving two to three inches of overhang on all sides.

Drape the back portion of the fabric over the chair's back. Tuck the edges tightly into the frame to make the leather taut against the frame. Use a staple gun to staple the fabric into the wooden frame.

Cover the seats with the leather fabric and tuck the fabric tightly under the frame. Then pleat and staple the fabric.

Cover the fabric over the arms of the chair. Fold the back portion of the fabric (the part closet to the chair's back) 1/3 of the way forward and cut a slit in the middle of the fold. Tie the cut ends of the fabric around the chair arms and staple them into the frame. Reinforce the arms with welting if desired.


Take pictures of the chairs before pulling the upholstery apart to use as a reference for where the tacks and staples are placed, and how to position the different sections of the fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Batting
  • Upholstery tacks
  • Rubber mallet
  • Leather fabric
  • Leather shears
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Welting
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About the Author

Nikki Cash graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's in film/TV, where she won an MPAA Scholarship. Since graduating, she has written and produced an independent feature film starting her career as a writer in 2005. Cash enjoys writing eHow articles with topics ranging from home improvement to crafts.