How to upholster a curved-back barstool

Written by f.r.r. mallory
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How to upholster a curved-back barstool
Barstools with curved backs can be upholstered with new fabric. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Curved-back barstools are common pieces of retro furniture. These stools can be found covered in everything from vinyl to velvet, and often they are in need of new upholstery because of stains, splits or other damage. Covering the curved back may seem daunting at first glance, but with a bit of planning and careful stapling, you can cover the curve without too much trouble. If you are using vinyl, you have the added assistance of shrinking the vinyl to help shape the curve.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Needlenose pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Foam
  • Spray adhesive
  • Electric carving knife
  • Quilt batting
  • Staple gun
  • Fabric
  • Vinyl (optional)
  • Heat gun (optional)
  • Hot glue gun

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove the existing cover using needlenose pliers and a flat screwdriver. Iron the cover to flatten out its shape.

  2. 2

    Examine the seat back for damage. Remove any deteriorated foam or stuffing. Replace the foam by spraying spray glue on the area being repaired. Press foam into the area. Use the thickness of foam that matches the existing stuffing the best. Allow the glue to dry. Contour the foam using an electric carving knife.

  3. 3

    Cut quilt batting with scissors 3 inches longer and wider than your inside seat cover. Drape the quilt batting over the inside seat back so that it is centred. Place one staple centred on the top edge. You should see the area where staples were previously. Keep your staples to the same area. Place your second stable centred on the bottom edge while stretching the batting taut. Work your way toward each end, evenly adjusting the fit of the batting to contour to the shape of the seat back. Trim off your excess batting. Repeat with batting over the outside seat back. The staple areas may overlap.

  4. 4

    Select a fabric that has some give. Good fabrics would include polyester blends. This will allow you to stretch the fabric around the curves of the stool. You can also use upholstery-grade vinyl if you want a retro appearance.

  5. 5

    Cut fabric with scissors 3 inches longer and wider than your inside seat cover. Drape the fabric over the inside seat back so that it is centred. Place one staple centred on the top edge. Place your second stable centred on the bottom edge while stretching the fabric taut. Work your way toward each end, evenly adjusting the fit of the fabric to contour to the shape of the seat back. Staple every 1/2-inch to hold the shape. Trim off your excess fabric. Repeat with fabric over the outside seat back. If you are using vinyl, heat the vinyl with a heat gun to shrink the vinyl to the contour of the seat back.

  6. 6

    Select a trim or welting that is wide enough to cover all of your visible staples. If you are using vinyl, make a bias-tape trim in vinyl. Hot-glue the trim over the staples, starting at the underside centre bottom.

Tips and warnings

  • Nail heads can be added over the trim to give the appearance that the trim is nailed in place. If your seat back is seamed, cut out your pattern pieces and seam around the sides and top. Ease the corners, and curves, and slide the cover over the seat back. Staple along the underside of the seat back.

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