Reupholstering your dining chairs can give the whole room a fresh look. Easily swap out the seat fabric with these steps on how to reupholster dining chairs.
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It's amazing what fresh fabric can do for a dining room chair. Whether you're revamping a thrift-store find or updating chairs that have seen too much wear, reupholstering the chair seat can boost comfort, add style, and make an old piece feel like new. Because many dining chairs have removable seats, this project is generally easier than reupholstering an accent chair or a larger piece such as a sofa. While you're changing out the fabric, you also have the option to paint the chair's frame or replace the cushioning to create a more comfortable seat. We've broken down the entire process into four easy-to-follow steps, making this a simple project you can complete in a weekend. Follow these instructions to learn how to reupholster a dining chair.

white table with green chairs
Credit: Ryann Ford

How to Reupholster a Dining Chair

What You Need

  • Dining chair with upholstered seat
  • Screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Scissors
  • Fabric
  • Pencil
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Staple gun
  • Screws or corner braces

To re-cushion (optional): 

  • Thick cardboard
  • Plywood
  • Foam padding
  • Batting
  • Scissors

Step 1: Remove chair seat and fabric.

Unscrew the seat and remove it from the chair. Use a screwdriver and needle-nose pliers to remove staples from the old fabric. Pull off old fabric and do not discard. Cut a covering from the new fabric, using the old fabric as a guide. If you plan to add new cushioning, cut the new fabric large enough to accommodate any added fullness. This is also a good time to paint the chair if it's in need of a touch-up or if you'd like a different color. Let dry before moving on.

Step 2: Re-cushion if needed.

If the seat is sturdy and the cushioning doesn't need to be replaced, move on to the next step. If you need a sturdier seat, use the existing seat to measure, mark, and cut a template on thick cardboard. Use the template as a guide to cut a new plywood seat.

To replace the cushioning, use the cardboard template as a guide to cut foam padding for the base; the padding should be 1-3 inches thick. Remove existing cushioning. Layer the new foam padding on top of the seat, aligning edges. Cut a piece of batting, leaving extra on each side to attach it to the underside of the seat. Wrap the batting around the top and sides of the foam and wood seat; turn the seat upside down. Using a staple gun, secure the batting to the underside of the seat, pulling and smoothing as you go. Trim excess batting.

Step 3: Staple on new fabric.

Place the seat upside down on the wrong side of the new fabric, making sure any pattern is centered on the front. Using a staple gun, staple each side once in the center, pulling the fabric tight. Working from the center outward, staple one side, pulling the fabric tight. Repeat on the side opposite the one you just finished. Repeat on the remaining two sides. Fold corners into a pleat and staple. As you work, check to make sure any patterns are straight and there are no wrinkles on the front. Trim fabric.

Step 4: Secure the reupholstered seat.

If desired, finish the seat bottom by stapling plain fabric to it. Use screws or corner braces to secure the seat to the underside of the chair.

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