Step by step tutorial on how to reupholster a chair

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I recently bought these 2 simple chairs at auction for a high price of $1 for both. Starting this project scared me, but it's not as difficult as it seems. Today I will share a step by step tutorial on how to upholster a chair.

What did the chairs look like before?

There are a few important tips to mention before you get started.

Take as many photos or videos as possible! The chairs I upholstered were pretty simple so I didn't need to memorize why it went where, but if you have a more complex project taking detailed photos and videos will help you put it back together.

I am writing this lesson on reupholstering a chair if it has strong bones. My chairs were in good structural condition, but I wanted to refresh the look of the wood. So after removing the trim I used black chalk paint.

To protect the paint, I applied 3 coats and sealed it with Polyurethane.

to be I Should I reupholster a chair myself?

It may sound scary, but once the chair's bones are in great shape, you can give it a completely new look in just a few hours with some fabric and staples.

That said, considering the chair isn't too complicated. For example, I'm still afraid of sitting on a wingback chair, so today I'll show you how I reupholstered simple dining chairs that require no sewing or cording.

Tools you need for flooring renovation


  • a chair
  • upholstery
  • foam filling
  • Staples


What material Will it be used as upholstery?

You should choose special heavy upholstery fabric. I recommend buying performance fabric; It is designed to provide easier cleaning in case of spillage and contamination. I'll let you know how mine holds up


Step 1. – separate the old flooring

First you need to disassemble the chair. I started by removing the screws on the bottom and back of the chair.

Remove the seat of the chair. First, I started working on the couch.

Take apart the old flooring to replace it. You will need something to remove small bald nails. I used scissors but they weren't ideal and I'm sure there is a better tool for the job.

If you know which one it is, let me know in the comments!

It took a while to separate it. The nails were rusty and did not want to cooperate. But after almost an hour, I was free from all the injections.

Also, if your chair is old, it wouldn't hurt to wear gloves to protect your fingers from all the dirt. I haven't done this for the most part, but it's not a bad idea.

When you remove your flooring, remember where everything goes. It was easy with my chairs, but if it's more complicated, definitely take as many photos as you can.

Step 2 – cut new fabric and foam padding

Take an old upholstery and fabric cutting tool and score it on the new fabric, leaving about 3 inches on all sides.

The thing to keep in mind when cutting is to leave enough room on all sides. It is then easy to cut off access.

At the same time, cut the filling to the correct length. I decided to leave the filling where it was and add extra padding.

Theoretically you can replace anything but I thought the old one was good enough.


Step 3 – attach the new fabric.

Step by step tutorial on how to reupholster a chair

The next step is to attach the new fabric. First place the new fabric face down, add batting on top and then add the base.

Start stapling the new fabric from the center to the edges every inch, making sure it's tight at all times.

When you get to the corners, fold it once, staple it, then fold it again and staple it again. It might not sound easy, but I promise you it's not.

You will get used to it after the first corner. Mine don't look perfect but I still like the way they look.

Cut the access fabric when you're done.

Step 4 – reupholster back of chair

I painted the base of my chair with black chalk paint.

Repeat all steps above for the back of the chair.

The important thing to remember here is to make sure your staples are exactly where the previous brad nails were. After replacing the seat back, I noticed some pins were coming out.

It added an extra step for setting the staples. Prevent this by making sure your staples are very close to the edge.

Step 5 – put the pieces back.

I used new screws to attach the reupholstered seat and back to the chair, as the previous ones were rusty and in poor condition.

This much!

Step by step tutorial on how to reupholster a chair
Step by step tutorial on how to reupholster a chair
They look great on the kitchen corner dining table I recently made.

Of course it's not perfect, but I've learned a lot throughout the process and I'm ready to start working on more “worthy” pairs.

This project cost me about $30, mainly fabric. Not bad for new-looking chairs.

I put these in the kitchen to compliment the kitchen corner table I made a few weeks ago. This was probably too ambitious for me. Let's see how long the chairs will last after my kids start using them 😁

Follow the renovation and project processes on my Instagram account @ifonlyapril to see behind the scenes.



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