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!


13 thoughts on “How-To Recover Dining Room Chairs

  1. I was looking at the pictures of recovering the chair
    and I really like the color of the walls…it looks
    gold…do you know the brand/name of color

  2. Hi Sherri!

    Thanks…I have to say that I am in love with that color, truly! I had it in my old house about 7 years ago and when we moved into our new house I painted my living room, entry and dining room the same color. My kitchen will eventually be the same.

    The paint is from Home Depot and it’s called Gold Buff #310D-4. It’s also a a flat finish. I know it’s a little harder to clean, but if you can swing it, you’ll find that your walls will look so nice in flat because it doesn’t reflect any imperfections that are in the wall. If have an active household and fingerprints are a worry, then try to go with a satin, which will be easier to keep clean.

    This color is really pretty neutral, as alot of different colors work so well with it. It looks great with darker stained furniture. I will say though, that if you have light stained furniture (such as light oak or natural), it’s not a good pick. It may seem overwhelming to think of it used on my entire lower level, but I have asked people who have been to my house what color my walls were after they left, and they didn’t remember. What they remembered was how warm and inviting it was, even cheerful.

    In the morning when the sun is shining in, it actually looks like a light yellow color. When the sun is setting in the evening it gets a really beautiful glow and right now (it’s dark outside), it is pretty dark. Can you tell I love it – haha! By the way, if you look up the color on the Behr website, it doesn’t look anything like the paint chip I have in front of me. You really need to the paint chip at the store! Good luck and if you decide to use it, you’ll have to let me know how you like it.

  3. I just wanted to say you have an amazing website very informative…I have been looking for a step by step on how to recover my dining room chairs…but I really would like to say thank you for easy directions and photos…again thank you and I will continue to visit your site…I am in the process of revamping my house so I will let you know how everything goes especially with the recovering…….thanks

  4. I am redoing my condo that I bought to update it. I have a very large sliding glass door but don’t want to put up just blinds, I would like to do something different and have searched everywhere for ideas and can’t find anything but blinds and more blinds. Please help…..

    • Hi Judy! These chairs are part of a set that belonged to my grandmother, but I think the best bet would be to start with Craigslist in your area and then explore estate sales and antique dealers. If you have the time, these are great ways to find unique items at bargain prices! Don’t have the time and money isn’t an issue? Print a photo of my chairs and take it to a local furniture dealer or designer and ask them if they have a source for replica dining room chairs. You’ll spend more, but you should be able to find similar chairs that way!

  5. I am using your instructions as a guide to recover some dining chairs. I can’t get the staples to go in the plywood! Any advice on the type of staples you used (length etc) would be appreciated!

  6. Hi Jane,

    I used a regular stapler as you saw in the photo’s. I am travelling until the weekend, so can’t look at what size staples I used, but will tell you the palm of my hand hurt by the time I was done. I actually put on some gloves for cushion and had to push really, really hard to get the staples in. One option is an power stapler which plugs if you know anyone you can borrow from. I used one to do some valances after I did the chair and it was sooooooo much easier. Otherwise, maybe ask your local hardware store for suggestions! Let me know what your solution was 🙂 Good luck!

  7. Wow, you are fast with the reply. Just knowing that you had to push really hard helps. I think I may need to enlist some muscle and get my hubby to help out. The staples I was trying to use are 1/2 inch and look much longer than is necessary in my opinion.

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