How to Reupholster a Chair: Beginner-Intermediate DIY Guide

When you’re ready to learn how to reupholster a chair, re-upholstery in itself can seem very intimidating if you’ve never done it before.

how to reupholster a chair

Yet, with a good tutorial and some patience, you can customize nearly any piece of furniture to be just how you want it.

Today we provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to reupholster a basic office chair.

How To Reupholster A Chair

Reupholster Chair

Materials Needed to reupholster a chair:

  • Chair
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Upholstery cording/piping
  • Staple gun & staples
  • Sewing machine & upholstery thread

Step by step tutorial to reupholster any chair:

Step 1: Select your chair

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Find the chair you want to reupholster. It could either be one you find while thrifting or have on-hand at home.

Step 2a: Disassemble the chair

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Start to disassemble the chair – start from the underneath. Keep all hardware, screws, and pieces safe and, where applicable, labeled.

Pro Tip: Take photos as you go so that you can reference them later as you’re reassembling the chair; often, something that seems obvious as you’re taking the chair apart will not seem so obvious when you’re putting it back together.

Step 2b: Take out staples.

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Use a screwdriver and pliers to take out staples. 

Try to keep chair pieces intact, as these will serve as your pattern pieces for your new fabric.

Step 2c:Take apart cording.

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If your chair is in exceptional condition, you may be able to reuse some of the components, such as the cording.

Pro Tip: Recycling and reusing is an excellent way to help the environment.

Step 3: Use removed fabric pieces to cut new fabric.

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If your fabric will be stapled on the underside of something, such as this chair-back, cut your fabric a few inches larger on each side to ensure plenty of extra to pull taut.

Pro Tip: Precision cuts are necessary for sewn pieces.

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Using the old fabric as your pattern, cut your new fabric exactly to size on any pieces that will be sewn.

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Keep all removed and newly cut pieces organized.

Step 4: Sew your cording.

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Keeping your fabric and the cord itself stretched taut, use a zipper foot on your sewing machine to sew the cording. 

Place the cord in the middle of your fabric (which should be 2”-3” wide and about 4” longer than your cord), fold the fabric over with the right-side-out, and sew together using a large (baste) stitch.

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Pro Tip: Trim the raw edges of your cording to be the width of your seam allowance. Look at the stitching marks left on your old cording fabric and match the width.

Step 5a: Recover the back of the seat back.

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 Staple the fabric to the back of the seat.

Step 5b: Staple the other two sides.

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When the first two opposing sides have been stapled (up to, but not yet into, the corners), use the same middle-to-outward strategy for the other two sides.

Step 5c: Staple the corners.

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First, pull the center of the corner toward the middle and place a staple.

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Then pull the two resulting folds toward the middle and staple those.

Step 6: Trim the excess fabric.

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Using scissors, trim the extra fabric about ¼” from the staples all the way around the seat. 

Pay particular attention to anywhere where there are screw holes; make sure these are clear of staples and extra fabric, as this will inhibit your ability to reassemble the chair correctly.

Step 7: Staple on cording.

How to Reupholster a ChairView in gallery

How to Reupholster a ChairView in gallery

When stapling cording, place the first staple about 1” in from the end of your cording. After you’ve gone all the way around and the two cording ends meet up, briefly overlap them and fold them down toward the middle of your board.

Staple in place.

Step 8: Sew the fabric for the front of the seat back.

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Lay your new fabric down right-side-up. 

Place your cording on the edge of your fabric (at the center of what will be the bottom of the cushion), raw edges of the cording lined up with the raw edge of your fabric.

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Start sewing about 1” in from the end of your cording and, pulling taut, sew the cording on.

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Slow down and don’t cut corners. 

It is critical to line up raw edges all around the corners as much as it is down the straight stretches.

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At the ends, pinch cording fabric in on itself and line up the two ends. Sew together.

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Step 9: Sew on cushion width fabric.

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With the cording attached to the seat back fabric, it’s time to sew on the strip of fabric that goes around the seat back as the cushion width. 

With right sides together (and the cording sandwiched in between), sew this on, starting at least 1” in and keeping raw edges aligned.

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Note: Trim corner edges as needed, being very careful to avoid cutting the seams.

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As you near the “start”, stop your machine, cut your thread, and pin exactly where the ends will come together. 

Pin this, then sew this seam together before resuming and completing your perimeter seam

Step 10: Cover the front of the seat back.

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Pull your newly sewn piece onto the front of the seat back – the fit should be very snug. 

Once you’ve pulled it tight and checked the front to make sure there are no wrinkles, staple into place using the same strategy shown in Step 5. 

Trim the excess fabric by the staples.

Step 11: Reupholster the seat cushion.

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Following the same strategies shown in Steps 8-10, sew the fabric for and cover your chair seat cushion. 

Staple into place.

Step 12: Add cording to bottom of seat cushion.

How to Reupholster a ChairView in gallery

How to Reupholster a ChairView in gallery

 Overlap the ends of your cording and staple into place.

Step 13: Add fray strip.

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Add a strip of about 1” of vinyl over the cording and staple.

This keeps your fabric from fraying along the bottom of your chair and, even if it does fray a little, it keeps the strings from hanging down.

Step 14: Reassemble your chair.

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Reference your earlier pics from step 2 if you need to, and rebuild your chair.

How to Reupholster a ChairView in gallery

How to Reupholster a ChairView in gallery

How to Reupholster a ChairView in gallery

How to Reupholster a ChairView in gallery

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

how to reupholster a chair?

To reupholster a chair, you’ll just need: a staple gun, some fabric, sewing machine, and a screwdriver. Once you have these items, you’ll need to disassemble your chair from the bottom. Place the fabric and staple it on. Then, sew together the cording.

how much does it cost to reupholster a chair?

The national average to reupholster a chair is $350-$500.

how to reupholster a chair seat?

To reupholster the seat of a chair, you’d first have to disassemble the seat. This means, take it apart from the rest of the chair. Once this is done, you’ll add the fabric to the seat and staple it into place.

how much does it cost to reupholster a chair seat?

Just to reupholster a chair seat, it will cost about $150. Since this is an easy DIY project, you can save some serious money by doing it at home, yourself.

how to reupholster a dining chair?

To reupholster a dining chair, you’ll first disassemble your chair from the bottom. Place the fabric and staple it on. Then, sew together the cording.

how to reupholster a chair cushion?

To reupholster a chair cusion, you’ll want to remove the old padding and replace it with new padding. Once that’s set, you can apply new fabric and staple it into place.

how to reupholster a wingback chair?

To reupholster a wingback chair, you’ll first disassemble your chair from the bottom. Place the fabric and staple it on. Then, sew together the cording.

how to reupholster a kitchen chair?

To reupholster a kitchen chair, you’ll first disassemble your chair from the bottom. Place the fabric and staple it on. Then, sew together the cording.

how to reupholster a dining room chair seat and back?

To reupholster a dining room chair seat and back, you’ll first disassemble your chair from the bottom. Place the fabric on the seat as well as back, and staple it on. Then, sew together the cording.

how long to reupholster a chair?

This varies on the complexity of your chair. Typically, you can reupholster a chair in 1-2 hours.

how to reupholster a chair that doesnt come apart?

If a chair seat doesn’t come apart, you can still upholster it. To do so, you’ll want to use a flat screw to remove the original fabric. After doing so, you’ll align the new fabric over the chair seat. Then, trim the fabric to size and staple into place with a staple gun. Any excess fabric you can hot glue down.

how to reupholster a chair without removing old fabric?

Simply lay thew new fabric over the old. Size it, cut it accordingly, and staple it into place.

how much fabric do i need to reupholster a chair?

This depends on the size of your chair itself. It’s best to measure the area that is being reupholstered and then buy your fabric.

how to reupholster a leather chair?

To reupholster a leather chair, you’d follow the same steps as a regular fabric chair: Take the chair apart, remove the old leather material, size and measure the new leather, and place accordingly.

how hard is it to reupholster a chair?

It’s not hard to reupholster a chair at all! It just takes a few quick steps and you’ll be done.

how much fabric to reupholster a chair seat?

This depends on the size of your chair seat itself. It’s best to measure the area that is being reupholstered and then buy your fabric.

how to reupholster a chair seat with foam?

To reupholster a chair seat with foam, you’ll first remove the old fabric and then remove the old padding. Once this is done, you’d fill the seat with new foam and continue to reupholster according to the steps outlined in this tutorial.

Conclusion:

Learning how to reupholster a chair is far easier than most people think. We hope we were able to convince you of this and guide you to feel confident in the DIY approach. After all, with just a few hours set aside, you can save hundreds of dollars by skipping the professionals.

Good luck, and enjoy!