How to Reupholster Dining Chairs

You can reupholster a dining chair just like we have done.

Jeans Chair front after reupholstering with used denim jeans. Photo by Diane Neill Jensen

Before you get started on your dining chair

Here is a chair found at our local recycle bin. It was worn but sturdy. We chose used denim jeans to reupholster the fabric on the chair and gave the wooden frame of the chair a spray paint coat of gloss black. Photo by Diane Neill Jensen

reupholstery project, you will want to go purchase some adhesive spray. You will need the fabric for the new upholstery, also.  If you will be refinishing the frame of the chair, get the paint, stain, or varnish, and some sandpaper also.


You will need a few tools to use as you learn how to reupholster. Gather up a hammer, flat and phillips head screwdrivers, a pair of regular plyers, and a staple gun. You will need these as you proceed. To protect your hands, also use a pair of work gloves.


To remove the seat of a dining chair, flip the chair upside down and place it on another chair. Most of the time there will be four phillips head screws holding the seat to the frame of the chair. Unscrew the screws and place them aside for use after the new upholstery is in place.

Next, you may want to remove the old upholstery, which is likely held in place with staples. Force the flat head screwdriver’s flat head under a staple and give the handle of the screwdriver a tap to loosen the staple. Now, you should be able to use the plyers to grasp the staple and pull it loose. Proceed until all the staples are out and you can remove the old upholstery.

If the padding or cushion underneath is in good condition, leave it in place. If not, you may need to purchase another cushion. Use the old upholstery as a pattern to cut out the new fabric for the chair seat.

While the chair is still upside down,if there is padding on the back of the chair, you may see screws holding this chair pad in place also. Remove the screws and pull the pad off the chair.  Remove this upholstery fabric for a pattern also.

Frame Preparation

If the frame of the chair needs refinishing, this is the time to do that so that paint, stain, or varnish can dry while you are preparing the upholstery. Spray paint is an excellent choice for quick refinishing. Just be sure to clean the frame thoroughly and sand well also. If the chair is wood, either use the same type of finish, or prime appropriately. If there is an oil base finish on a wooden chair, your spray paint will scratch easily unless you prime before painting.

Upholstery Preparation

If there is sewing to be done, this is the time to do that. Using the old upholstery pieces as a pattern, cut out your new upholstery pieces and sew together in the same manner as the old one, if needed.

Attaching the Upholstery Fabric

Now you can fit the fabric around the seat and back cushions, stapling them in place just as the old fabric was. To accomplish the smooth professional look, start with a staple on one side of the seat cushion, then go to the opposite side and place another staple. Go to one of the other sides and place a staple, then staple on the opposite side. You can now just work your way around the cushion, easing around the corners.


The back cushion should only need stapled on the bottom edge. Then both cushions can be re-attached to the chair frame, which you have again placed upside down on another chair, and attach the cushions with the original phillips screws. Turn the chair right side up and admire your reupholstery job. You are done.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply