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Reupholstering Dining Room Chairs

Turn your old chairs, or even thrift store finds, into custom dining room furniture. With some unique fabric, any chair that has a removable seat can become new again. The best part of knowing how to reupholster dining chairs is that you can change out the fabric whenever you change your décor. You can also use the same upholstery fabric for cornice boards or curtains, wall covering, throw pillows for an adjacent room, or to cover accessories like lamps and storage bins.

What you'll need:

  • dining room chairs with removable seats (see photo below)
  • thick, durable fabric
  • heavy-duty staple gun
  • may need to cut new seats from plywood
  • may need to replace batting or foam
  • may need to add new screws and hardware
  • may need to paint or varnish chair

Depending on the state your dining chairs are in when you start your project, they may need to be glued for stabilizing, sanded and painted, and they could also need end caps on the legs to keep them from damaging hardwood or tile flooring. Reupholstering is the last step of refurbishing dining chairs.

Remove the seat by taking out screws from the hardware beneath the seat (see photo). If the wood of the seat is in bad repair, use the old wood as a template to cut a new seat from plywood. With a screwdriver, remove any staples, nails, or tacks that hold the upholstery in place. Discard the old fabric and staples. If the batting or foam cushion is decaying, be prepared to replace it at this time. Batting or foam can be purchased at large fabric stores or craft stores.

Using the seat bottom as a template by laying it on the wrong side of the upholstery fabric, cut around the seat, leaving about 4" all the way around. The extra fabric will be wrapped beneath the seat. Now you're ready to reupholster.

Layer the wooden seat, the batting or foam, then the fabric (right side up). Turn this layered pile over so that the board is up. You may want to place the pile on the floor and press on the center of the board with one knee. Stretch the fabric around to the back of the board, and then staple it. Staple the four corners first. Then pull with even pressure and staple the remaining fabric to the board. For rounded corners, do not cut the fabric. Fold it under itself, like a dart, and double staple it. Once the fabric is secure and stretched to a tension that you like, trim excess fabric. Replace the seat bottom onto the chair with the original or replacement hardware.


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