How-To Recover Dining Room Chairs

Old upholstery 

If you’ve been following my Dining Room project, you’re probably wondering when in the heck I’m ever going to finish it. Haha – me too! Last week I took a step towards completion and decided to recover the dining room chair seats – I took some photos along the way. If you have chairs that are simply covered with fabric (no welding or box seams) like my before picture above, it’s really simple to do and very inexpensive. Here’s how…

1.  Select and purchase fabric. The sales clerk at the fabric store can tell you how much fabric you need based on the width and pattern repeat of the fabric that you choose. Make sure to choose one that will hold up to the appropriate usage. If you use these chairs daily versus a few times a year, make sure to select one that will hold up! I actually chose reversible fabric and am going to upholster the chairs at each end of the table differently than the rest of the chairs just to mix things up a bit. Apparently Sami (dog above) and Beanie (cat below) want to be in on the action 🙂


  2. You’ll need these tools… a needle-nose pliers, sharp scissors, flat head screw driver and a staple gun.


3. Remove the seats from each chair frame. Turn the chair over and remove the 4 screws that are securing the cushion to the frame at each corner.

4. Loosen staples. On the underside of the seat, loosen each staple with a flat head screw driver


5. Remove the staples. With the needle-nosed pliers, remove each staple till there there are none left to secure the fabric to the seat. Note: make sure to keep all removed staples in a pile or container to dispose of – trust me on this… a few stray staples WILL find their way into your foot if you are not careful!


6. Remove the old fabric. Turn the cushion over and carefully remove the fabric, being cautious to not disturb the padding.

Note: If the padding is good shape, simply re-use it. This is the easiest route. If it does need to be replaced (lumpy, disintegrating, stained, etc.), purchase new padding from your fabric store and cut to fit the shape of your chair.


7. Cut fabric. On a table, spread out your fabric with the front of it face down to the table. Carefully, lay your padded seat cushion (padding to the backside of the fabric) on top , leaving a few inches on the side closest to the edge of the fabric. Make sure that any stripes are straight and patterns are going in the right direction. Cut fabric in the shape of the cushion, making sure to cut wide enough all the way around to allow you to wrap and fold the edge of the fabric when stapling.


8. Staple the fabric. Start by applying one staple at the center of each side. Pull the fabric around firmly (but not too tight), fold fabric so that the the unfinished fabric edge is not exposed, and staple. By doing one staple in the center of each side, you will ensure that the pattern/stripe is where you want it to be and that you have enough fabric on each side. PS. Make sure that you don’t cover up the screw holes that you’ll need to access when re-attaching the seats.


9. Continuing Stapling. After you’ve put a staple in the center of each side, continue folding fabric and stapling fabric about every 2 inches until you get about 1/2″ from each corner.


10. Staple the Corners. Gather the remaining fabric at the corners, pulling firmly around the corner and secure with several staples. Cut any access corner fabric about an inch past the staples so that it doesn’t cause the seat to sit too high when re-attached. Picture below is not trimmed.




You’re almost done!

11. Re-attach the seats to the chair frame.  Turn the chair frame on it’s side and re-attach the seat with the 4 screws.


Here’s my finished chair! Now I just need a new chandelier and a couple of miscelaneous things and my Dining room will be done – woohoo!