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How to Reupholster a Chair

Hey all! Things have been a little quiet around Bitterroot DIY lately due to the new addition to the family, but I’m picking it back up again this week!

A short aside: Mr. Weston Michael Sattler joined us on August 12 at 5:35pm and has completely flipped our lives upside-down. The best sort of upside-down 🙂

After recovering from the pregnancy and birth, I finally completed the dining table and chairs flip that I hinted at before Weston. So I’ve got three new posts coming your way, starting with how to reupholster a chair!

These chairs were my favorite part of this whole dining set flip. It’s amazing what a quick reupholstering and paint job can do for some old chairs!

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Tools & Supplies:

  • Staple Gun (this is the staple gun I have and it worked great!)
  • Staples
  • Drill (for removing seats)
  • X-Acto Knife (if you want to remove existing upholstery)
  • New Upholstery

Step 1.

Remove the seat. All chairs are a little different, but the seats are generally attached from the bottom. Simply flip your chair over and remove the screws to disconnect the seat.

remove seat

Step 2.

Remove the existing upholstery. You can choose to just add new upholstery over the top of the old stuff or start fresh.

The original upholstery on these chairs was really worn and smelly …

remove existing upholstery

So I chose to remove it. (the seat was still attached here, but let’s just ignore that … )

Now, I’ll be honest, this was quite the process. The staples were super secure and there were approximately 15 bazillion of them on each seat … not fun … but definitely worth it in the end.

If you want to remove the existing upholstery, flip the seat over, remove the old staples, and peel off the original fabric.

Each chair is a little different, so you’ll have to experiment some to see what works best on your chair. But that’s the basics of it!

Step 3.

Depending on the condition of the chair, you can either replace the original foam or reuse it. I reused the original foam on these chairs since it was still dense and fluffy. If you want to replace your foam, check out this tutorial from The Thinking Closet. 

Step 4.

Cut out the new upholstery approximately 4″ wider than the seat on all sides. You could get away with 3″ wider than the seat, however I wanted to have some room for error just in case … you know how things go 😉

new upholstery

Place the chair seat on top of the new fabric, trace around the edge, and then extend the outline 4” on all sides.

Step 5.

Center the seat and foam on the new upholstery. Starting at the center of one side, pull the upholstery tight and staple.

staple new upholstery

Work your way from the center of the edge out to the corner, stapling as you go. Leave the corner loose for now. Repeat on the opposite edge.  

*Tip: Make sure to pull the fabric tighter than you think is necessary. The fabric will start to stretch out as the chairs are used, and you’ll want it to stay as taught as possible. 

Repeat for the adjacent edges.

Step 6.

To complete the corners, pull the fabric from the center of the corner diagonally across the seat base and staple in place.

reupholster the corner

Then fold one side of the corner down, pull tight, and staple. Repeat on the other side to complete a neat fold at the corner.

reupholster the corner_2

Add any additional staples necessary. Repeat for each seat corner.

Step 7.

This is optional, but you can finish the seat with a dust cover fabric if desired. It protects the bottom of the seat while also creating a clean, finished edge. I’m all about over-doing everything clean, so I took the extra time to finish the seats off …


finish upholstery with a dust cover

And there you have it!

reupholster chair seats

Step 8.

Reattach the newly upholstered seats to the chair and you’re good to go!

reattach seat

It’s like a whole new chair!

Reupholster a chair

I’m seriously so stoked about how these turned out 🙂 If you’d like to see how I repainted the chairs, head on over to this post.

Please comment with any questions, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

I’d love to hear from you!

How to Reupholster a Chair