How to Upholster Chair Seats

I’ve shared this one before, but many of you may have missed it so it’s worth sharing again.

Did you know how easy it is to change out dining room chair seats? 

Those seats that are screwed in and can be taken off very easily?  It is so easy to change them out to fresh new fabric and that’s what I did in  my new living room.  These 2 black chairs which have been with me since early 2000’s have been changed a few times.  They’ve spent their lives in my kitchen and have seen a couple of fabric changes in those 12 years that I have had them.

So, now, it was time to refresh them again. Only this time, they aren’t staying in the kitchen.  The other 2 chairs that have been in this grouping still have the yellow trellis fabric I added on them a couple of years ago and when I get my screened porch finished, they will have a home out there, along with the extra 2 that go with them.

In the meantime, these 2 armchairs are sitting in my new living room, looking pretty and sporting their new Ikat turquoise fabric, which makes them look even better.

Here’s how easy it is to change out those seat fabrics.


Take the old fabric off using pliers and screwdriver.  This isn’t hard, just takes a little time.  These chairs I recovered a couple of years ago and now it’s time for some new fabric.   This yellow fabric will be reused on 2 other chairs for the porch.


Underneath is the batting I had added on there too.


So now you’ve got a clean slate, ready to recover.


So, take a pattern if you have one (and if you don’t decide which pattern you want front and center on your new seat).  I chose the large white medallion for my center.


I placed my old pattern on top and began cutting it out.


That’s it, this piece is plenty large to pull taut and staple.  I use an electric staple gun for this job.


Make sure you line up the pattern exactly where you want it before you flip it over and start stapling.


Then you are ready to turn it over and begin pulling the fabric taut, stapling on all four sides.  I usually pull one side and then the opposite side and go back and forth until all is stapled.


When you get to the corner, I just do a little pleat to hold down the corners and make them flat.


And here it is all done and ready to reattach to the chair.


I also just cut out a piece of muslin to cover the raw wood on the bottom, not that it shows, just gives it more of a finish.


Pop them back into place and screw the screws back in all 4 corners.


And your chairs will be ready to go.

I’ve had these chairs for many years and they have served me well.  Solid wood  never goes out of style and even though they started as stained originally, I painted them black over 10 years ago and still love them like this.  They might get another paint color one of these days and that’s the beauty of wood.  It can be changed up and renewed with paint time and time again.

Do you have chair seats that need recovering?  What are you waiting for?

- Rhoda


  1. What brand and model electric stapler do you use?

    • HI, Candie, I borrowed my sister’s electric stapler for this, but I really didn’t like the way it performed, didn’t drive the staples in enough. So, I wouldn’t want to recommend that one. I’m sure you can ask at the stores and get a good one. They do come in handy for sure.

    • A 3/8 crown Fine Wire Electric stapler would be Ideal.

  2. I did the same thing with not only my dining room chairs but also a couple of benches that I’ve placed at the foot of the beds in a guest room and our master bedroom. My next project is to put a new cover on a stool that sits in the guest bathroom. This is really easy to do. The hardest part is choosing a fabric and then getting all those pesky staples out of the old piece.

  3. Love the new fabric!

  4. Connie McCallum says:

    Those look great with the black chairs. May I suggest now that you have the air compressor for your air nail gun you should get an air stapler. It makes jobs like these a breeze. An upholstery air stapler you can find them on line.

  5. Linda Coleman says:

    What a great easy project. Thanks!

  6. Happy New Year Rhoda! The chairs look great and I’ve enjoyed watching all your progress on the new house this year.

  7. Love those chairs!! I have pillows in that fabric. I just reupholstered my office chair seat this past weekend to a navy/white ikat – this is one of my favorite projects!!

  8. Great little project (and I LOVE your chairs) – you’ve inspired me to tackle my little red desk chair. I never liked the fabric on the seat so it is time to change it! Happy 2013

  9. Thanks for sharing this Rhoda! I always have a hard time with the corners, so I appreciated you sharing the pleat part.

  10. Thanks for this information, Rhoda.
    I have the chair and the fabric and this was just the kick in the pants I needed to get going. 🙂
    Is is just regular quilt batting that you put under the fabric?

  11. Looks very nice! Great job.

  12. I love these chairs, especially with the new fabric. If you get a hankering to paint something, please don’t paint these chairs. The black is so beautiful: classic, yet modern. In fact, seeing them is what made me start reading your blog! Great update and tutorial. Connie’s suggestions sounds practical if you have some similar projects in mind. Happy New Year! CTD

  13. Love the new look! I did our dining room chairs a few years back and plan on redoing them this year. It was my first time upholstering anything and they only had a couple little mistakes. I hope I’ve learned and will do better this time!
    Thanks for the tips.
    Debbie 🙂

  14. Love those, esp the fabric! Do you need to remove the existing fabric? I have barstools I want to recover, even have the fabric. Just need a swift kick……

  15. Changing the fabric on chair seats is one of my favorite fast and easy updates! Love your fabric choice! Beautiful chairs. Have a very Happy New Year!

  16. Wow – you make this look ridiculously easy! I have to try this soon.

  17. Hi Rhoda,

    I just did two of my four chairs this week. It is so easy, except for getting out the old staples. I think it may be the fourth time I have done them. A great way to transform the room for so little of a cost! I found some great drapes on sale at World Market – I bought an additional panel to match the fabric. Now back to complete the other two!

    Hope to see your home this month!

  18. I really need to do this, thanks for the post! Off to search for some pretty fabric.

  19. This is such a fantastic tutorial Rhoda!! I love the fabric and they turned out so fabulous! I highlighted your project yesterday on my blog for Friday Favorites! This is such an easy project with big impact! Have a great weekend Rhoda! Thank you for all of your inspiration!

  20. LOVE how easy it is to change out chair cushions and I love the fabric you chose!

  21. I love how those turned out and happy to know how easy it is to do. Love your blog!


  22. I just love these chairs and they look great with both fabrics. I wish I’d read this when I started recovering my dining room chairs last week. My blog post about those chairs turned into a “don’t do it like this” post.


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