Home Improvement

How To Reupholster A Chair Seat



Chairs are some of the most used pieces of furniture in your home. That’s why they can get damaged quite easily. If there are structural problems, you may hire a professional to fix them by searching for “furniture repair near me”. However, if there is surface damage like torn or ripped upholstery, you can fix it yourself. Let’s check out how you can reupholster a chair seat:

The Process

  1. Materials and Tools – Before you start reupholstering the chair seat, it’s important to equip yourself with the right tools and materials. For tools you’ll need:
  • A screwdriver or drill
  • Straight Pins
  • Staple remover
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Sewing Machine
  • Chalk or Fabric pencil

For materials, you’ll need an upholstery fabric of your choice. Make sure the style of the upholstery fabric also matches the architecture and design of the chair. You’ll also need a welt cord to give your chair a more professionally finished look. 

  1. Remove the seat from the chair – Turn the chair upside down and locate the screws on the frame. Use your screwdriver or drill to unscrew the hardware. If you’re an experienced woodworker, you can make necessary changes to the wood to restore it to its prime condition. It includes painting, tightening joints, and refinishing the damaged parts. 

After you’ve refinished the wood make sure that lacquer paint or any other substance has dried, and nothing feels sticky to the touch. Once you’ve reupholstered the seat, you can reattach it back to the chair.   

Some chairs may have the seat attached to the frame with the help of a tack strip. It’s a thick piece of cardboard with tacks. In this case, you can pry off the seat with the help of a flat head screwdriver. 

  1. Get rid of the old fabric – After removing the seat, turn it over and use a staple remover to get rid of the staples on the fabric. If your furniture is very old, the staples may have rusted or become stubbornly stuck due to the expansion of the wood. In that case, use needle-nose pliers to pull them out.  

After you remove the old fabric, don’t be quick to dump it in the trash. You’ll need it later to use it as a pattern. 

Sometimes, you may find a seat with worn-out padding. Even if the old padding isn’t compressed beyond belief, you may prefer thicker or denser padding for your comfort. In that case, add a new layer of batting. You can get it from a nearby fabric or hobby store.  

  1. Center the pattern – Unless you’re a minimalist who likes flat and neutral colors, your new seat fabric may have a distinct pattern. You should choose a good pattern if you have an old or antique chair. 

Turn the seat right side up and place your new fabric with a custom pattern on top. Press the fabric around the boundaries of the seat till the pattern is centered. Once you secure the central position, mark the corners with straight pins. You don’t need to go through this step if you choose solid colors and neutral tones with no unique design. 

  1. Cut a new cover – Turn the new fabric down on the right side and place the old seat cover over the top. Note and adjust the location of the straight pins as needed. Make sure that the straight pins are aligned with the corner creases of the old seat cover. 

Weight down the old seat cover over at the corners and use a fabric pencil or chalk to trace around the old seat cover. Trace the cover by smoothing out the edges with your hand. This way the new cover wouldn’t end up being smaller than the old cover. To increase your accuracy, you can even pin the old cover over the new cover with straight pins before you start tracing it. 

Remove the old seat cover along with the new fabric and cut along the traced chalk or pencil line. You can prevent the fraying of the fabric around the edges with the help of your sewing machine. Add serge or zigzag lines around the edges of the new fabric cover. You can also fold the tape to secure the edges if you aren’t comfortable with a sewing machine. 

  1. Attach the fabric to the seat – Turn the new seat cover down by the right side and similarly place the cushion. You can align the fabric to the seat corners with the help of straight pins. Start from the top edge and staple once at the center. Do the same with the bottom edge. Don’t forget to pull the fabric tight to prevent sagging after you stitch it. 

Repeat this step on each side as you keep pulling the fabric taut. Once all the central positions of the sides are covered, you need to staple the rest of the boundary. Work with one side at a time and staple outwards from the center till you completely staple that side. 

Remember to pull the fabric tight and smooth right before you staple it. Cover all the sides in this way and leave the corners unstapled. 

  1. Cover the corners – Grab a corner and pull it toward the center of the seat and staple it. For the remaining corners, arrange the extra fabric in neat pleats and pull tightly towards the center before stapling it. Leave room for the screw holes to reattach the seat to the chair. 
  1. Welt and reattach – To give your reupholstered seat a professional finish, you can apply decorative welt along the seat edges by stapling the flat side of the welt. Finally, turn the chair and screw the seat back in place. 


Now that you know how to reupholster a chair, you can do it yourself. Just source the right tools and materials and you would be able to fix up the seat fabric in no time. If the chair has damage on its legs or squeaky joints, you may get it repaired by a pro by searching for “furniture repair near me”.


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