How to reupholster a chair

Published On: September 6, 20230 Comments on How to reupholster a chairTags: Last Updated: January 27, 20244.2 min read

Do not throw away your chairs if the upholstery is damaged or to dirty to clean. Reupholstering a chair is one of the easiest DIY projects for an average homeowner. It doesn’t require expensive tools or specific knowledge yet the results are amazing. If done properly you can have completely new set of chairs for a fraction of the price of new chairs.

Through this simple step-by-step guide you’ll see that you can reupholster a chair like a professional. So, let’s get started.

Removing old upholstery

Before you start with preparing new upholstery you must remove old upholstery and prepare the chair. Depending of the type of the chair, you may need to disassemble the seat in order to remove the old upholstery. After you disassembled the seat use the knife and the screwdriver to remove the old upholstery. Try to keep your old upholstery in one piece on at least one chair. In that way you have the exact shape for cutting your new upholstery and you don’t have to measure and calculate anything. After you removed the old upholstery examine the condition of the cushion. If the cushion is in bad condition then it’s best to replace it as well.

removing chair seat

Cut all cushions and new upholstery in the correct shapes and thoroughly clean the chair seat before you start with your project. You don’t need almost no tools for this project. The things you need to prepare are scissors, screwdriver, staple gun, chalk and maybe a staple remover (if you can’t remove old staples with a screwdriver.

Preparing new upholstery

As we said earlier, if you can remove the old upholstery in one piece then simply place the old upholstery over the new material and mark the shape with a chalk. If you can’t remove the old upholstery in one piece then measure the dimensions of the seat then add 2 inches on each side for thickness and 2 inches on each side to fold under the seat for stapling. Don’t worry if your material is to big, you can easily remove the excess material after stapling. After you marked the shape simply cut your new fabric in correct shape.

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It is best to replace the cushions as well because the old one are probably warn out and flat after years of sitting on them. If you want more comfort you can use thicker cushions. You must cut cushions in the exact shape as the chair seat. Simply put the chair seat on the cushion material and mark the shape with chalk and then cut the cushion with a sharp knife.

Attaching new cushion and upholstery

We’re now ready to attach the new cushion and upholstery on the chair seat. First use double sided tape or some regular tape on each side of the chair seat to secure the cushion in the position until secure the new cushion. Don’t skip this step because it’s hard to properly put new upholstery of the cushion is constantly moving. After the cushion is secured, place the new fabric upside down on the floor. Take the chair seat with the cushion attached and place it on the fabric cushion down. Make sure that you have exact amount of fabric on each side.

The next step is crucial. Don’t rush with it and it would be best if you can ask someone to hold the fabric until you staple it to the chair seat. First fold the material over one side in a way that is evenly apart from the edge all the way. Put three staples per inch on this side but leave the corners unstapled. Then take the fabric on the opposite side and pull it over the side. The fabric must be really tight before stapling and that is the moment when you’re going to need help. Ask someone to hold the fabric until you staple that side. Then repeat the process on the other two sides of the chair seat. Now your new upholstery is firmly in place and you need to take care of the corners. Fold each corner by width and the staple it to the chair seat. If you have a lot excess material on the chair seat simply remove it with scissors or a sharp knife.


Now you new upholstery is finished and you simply need to assemble the chair seat back on the chair. Before the chair is assembled check the wooden and metal parts for damage and paint them before assembling the chair seat. In that way you’ll have completely new chairs wen you assemble the chair seats. Your new chairs are now ready for presentation to your family and friends.

If you think that your old chairs are beyond salvage or you simply don’t like the design anymore then check out our tutorial for making a complete new chair from scratch.

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