Whether you’re looking to bring an old tatty chair back or to life or just change up the color scheme- reupholstering can be a great solution.
Keep in mind, the details of reupholstering will be slightly different depending on the chair type, but the overall method is still the same.
If you’re working with a dining chair, the process is pretty simple. You can begin by removing the seat from the chair if it’s attached to the base. If the seat is screwed into the base, you’ll need to flip it over and unscrew them.
Some seats may even be glued in, if this is the case you may need to use a solvent to dissolve the glue. If you’re working with other types of chairs, you may need to remove the legs to peel back the fabric.
Next, you’ll need to remove any rivets or decorative bolts. You’ll probably need pliers to remove these as they’re designed to hold the fabric in place tightly.
If the bolts are very small, use a pair of needle-nose pliers instead. Replacing these can be time-consuming, so it’s best to not put them back on later.
Once you’ve removed the existing fabric from the chair, you can use it as a template to help you cut the new fabric. Leave a couple of inches to spare on every side to make sure it’ll be large enough to cover the entire seat.
Turn the seat right-side up and place the fabric on top, adjusting until it’s centered. Carefully turn over without moving the fabric and loosely tack down the four corners.
(Don’t worry- you’ll be removing these staples later; they’re just there to keep the fabric from shifting while you’re stapling it in place).
Now it’s time to dig out the staple gun. It’s best to start from the middle of each side of the seat and work toward the corners, keeping the fabric pulled tight as you do so.
To ensure the fabric is evenly distributed, put in a couple of staples on one side and then switch to the opposite side. It’s best to avoid stapling one full side of the seat at a time.
Next, you’ll need to fold the corners. The type of fold you make will depend on the kind of fabric you’re using as well as your personal preference. Be prepared to make multiple folds and try out different methods until you achieve your desired look and staple into place.
Trim away any excess fabric but be sure to leave an extra couple of inches of overhang. Using the old dust cover as a template, cut a new piece of lightweight, solid fabric, then staple over the exposed back of the seat to cover any messy edges.
Reattach the seat to the chair. For extra credit, pass a steamer or iron (at the appropriate heat setting) over the seat to help the fabric conform. And that's it—sit back and enjoy your chair's new look!
Can I reupholster a chair myself?
Yes! While it requires some patience and skill, you don’t need to be a trained professional to try your hand at reupholstering. If you’re wanting to reupholster just the seat of a chair, then the process is pretty straightforward.
Follow our handy step-by-step guide above. However, if you’re working with an armchair- be prepared for a less simple task.
Attainable projects for novice reupholsterers include replacing the fabric on a chair seat, or even covering a headboard. Anything that requires “full upholstery” (this includes armchairs, club chairs, etc) is best left to someone with a little more experience.
If you’re familiar with upholstering and have completed a couple of successful tasks in the past, then you may be able to get away with reupholstering your own chair.
Don’t practice on anything too precious though- if it’s a family heirloom with upholstered back and arms, seek the help of a professional.
Is it difficult to reupholster a chair?
Reupholstering a chair can be difficult, but this depends on the type of chair you’re working with. For example, dining chairs and simple accent chairs are relatively easy to reupholster and can be a great project for beginners and those looking to save some money.
However, if the item you’re looking to upholster is a large armchair, with a button-back design, or a club seat- it can be a lot more complicated. If attempting this, consider watching YouTube tutorials from experts and joining online communities to get guidance from others.
What is the easiest way to reupholster a chair?
If you’re reupholstering a dining chair seat, follow our instructions above to help guide you through the process. If your chair is a little more complicated, you’ll need to find instructions that are specific to your type of chair.
You’ll also need to consider the price of reupholstery before you begin and compare whether it would be cheaper and easier to do it yourself or if you’ll need to get in a professional. If you’re looking for an extremely low-effort alternative to reupholstering, why not consider a slip-cover?
While they’re not as permanent as re-upholstery, they can be easily taken off and washed, and changed up whenever you please. They also usually come in a huge range of different materials, colors, sizes, styles, and patterns.
However, If the batting or foam of your chair cushion is completely worn out and flat, you’ll most likely have to change it completely, and only an upholsterer can help with that.