How to Reupholster a Rocking Chair

Written by liza hollis
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How to Reupholster a Rocking Chair
New fabric can add interest and colour to old upholstered rocking chairs. (rocking chair and flag image by Jeffrey Zalesny from

Rocking chairs are the epitome of comfortable furniture. They also add a certain level of charm to a living space. Reupholstering is an affordable way to repair a rocking chair with damaged upholstery or customise a rocking chair to better match a particular design scheme.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Spray adhesive
  • Upholstery foam
  • Utility knife
  • Cotton batting
  • Staple gun
  • Scissors
  • Muslin cloth, about 2 yards
  • Pencil
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Straight pins

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  1. 1

    Unscrew the screws that hold the cushions from the back and seat of the rocking chair with a screwdriver. Once you take the screws out, the cushions should completely separate from the frame. Save the screws so you can reattach the cushions later. Take this time to check the chair frame for wear and tear. Re-stain, sand or paint as necessary and let dry before replacing the cushions.

  2. 2

    Replace upholstery foam or cotton batting, if necessary. Spray a layer of spray adhesive onto the cushion. Lay a 2-inch piece of upholstery foam over the cushion as necessary. Cut foam to size with a utility knife. Apply a layer of spray adhesive to the top of the foam to hold the cotton batting in place. Stretch the cotton batting taut over the cushion and then staple it directly into the back of the cushion. Cut away any excess.

  3. 3

    Drape a piece of muslin cloth over the seat cushion to create a template. This step is only necessary if you were not able to preserve the original fabric pieces in the first step. Lay the muslin over the top of the cushion and trace out the shape. Add an inch all around.

  4. 4

    Lay the muslin template over the new upholstery fabric and trace with a pencil. Pin in place with several straight pins while you trace to keep the pattern from sliding. This is especially important if you are using a material with a repeating fabric. Cut out the pattern pieces.

  5. 5

    Position the new fabric over the cushion and staple it in place to the back of the cushion. Pull the fabric tight along the underside of the cushion as you staple. Leave about a quarter of an inch extra material along the staple line to account for give. Cut away any excess material. Replace the cushion onto the chair by screwing the screws back into the rocking chair frame.

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