DIY Upholstering Chairs

Updated February 21, 2017

Reupholstering furniture can breathe new life into an old piece. After years of use and daily wear and tear, fabric can become damaged beyond repair, making re-covering a chair an excellent alternative to replacing it. Reupholstering large chairs is a perfect project for someone with decent sewing skills and familiarity with fabrics, since furniture requires upholstery-quality fabrics, and not your run-of-the-mill textiles. However, since dining room chairs often endure the most abuse and absorb the most stains, reupholstering a dining room chair is a perfect task for beginners, since it normally involves only the seat cushion and perhaps a back cushion.

Remove the cushion from the chair frame. Turn the chair upside down or on its side and locate the screws that hold the cushion in place. Unscrew the cushion from the frame.

Pull out all staples and tacks that attach the fabric to the cushion, using needle-nose pliers. Once the fabric is loose, remove the fabric from the chair and dispose of it. Underneath the fabric, you will see the batting that was used to make the chair comfortable to sit on. Remove it and dispose of it as well.

Remove the wood that serves as the base of the cushion. The seat base will be either a large piece of plywood or natural wood, and will be cut in a shape that accommodates the frame. Lay the wood on top of the new fabric for the seat. Use the wood as a guide. Cut the new fabric 2 to 3 inches larger than the seat of the chair to give enough room for the new batting. Put the fabric to the side after you've cut it.

Replace the batting. Put the seat board on top of the new batting. Pull the batting over the bottom of the seat until it is even.

Place the fabric over the batting. Stretch the fabric over the seat and batting, wrapping the ends around the bottom of the seat. Staple the fabric on all four sides until the fabric is taut over the batting and covers the seat. Place a staple every 3 to 5 inches along each side of the seat. Make certain that all corners are neat and trimmed. If the chair back is upholstered, repeat the process for upholstering the chair seat to cover the chair back as well.

Replace the cushion on the frame and screw it in place.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Staple gun or upholstery tacks
  • Scissors
  • Cotton batting
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