How To Re-Upholster A Chair Seat

I have to admit, most re-upholstering jobs I wouldn’t try to tackle myself.  For one thing, I don’t have room in my sewing studio to re-upholster a whole couch!  But, today I’m going to share with you a pretty simple upholstery project – how to re-upholster a chair seat.  Definitely a do-able project for most DIY’ers.


This chair used to belong to my mom’s parents.  It had been sitting in her basement for years, and so we decided to drag it out, and see what we could do with it.  Here’s what it looked like before we cleaned it and changed out the seat, and after we re-upholstered the seat.


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How To Re-Upholster A Chair Seat


Stapler – I love this forward action stapler!
Staple remover
Needle nose pliers
Upholstery Hammer
1″ Foam – optional if your seat is in better condition than mine was
Flannel Interlining – optional
Fabric – a good quality fabric (upholstery) is preferable, especially if the seats will be used often.


  1.  If the chair seat is extremely old, remove the old fabric and padding.
  2. Cut a new piece of foam to fit the chair seat if need to start from scratch.
  3. I like to cover the foam with flannel interlining before adding the fabric, it helps the fabric to lay better on the foam and board.
  4. Lay fabric out and place the chair seat on top of it.
  5. Staple fabric to board with one staple on each side of the board.
  6. Then starting from the center go out to each corner on left and then right.  Stapling all four sides.  Stop about 2″ from each corner.
  7. Staple the center of the corner and then on each side of center.
  8. Trim fabric.
  9. Replace chair seat on chair.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial, and please let me know if you have any questions.


  1. I’ve passed up so many sturdy chairs while thrifting because I thought re-upholstering would be to big of a challenge. You make it look very easy.

  2. Thanks, Jann. I’m going to help my d-i-l cover her kitchen chairs. I was wondering how to get the corners to look good. Hope I can do as well. What do you think of using outdoor fabric for the kitchen? The kids still spill a lot.

  3. I guess what I’m asking is 1) is outdoor fabric more stain resistant than regular decorator fabric? 2) should it be pre-washed or does that take away any rain-resistant qualities? 3) should it be sprayed with scotch-guard whether it’s pre-washed or not? Thanks for your opinion.

    1. I’m not an outdoor fabric expert, but usually they wear better than regular home decor fabrics, and are more fade resistant. I would not pre-wash the fabric, and I would spray the seats with Fabric Gaurd, which you can find at most good furniture stores.

  4. Hi Jann, thank you for sharing this one I am actually starting my first upholstery project and your video is my guide. It is very helpful to me.

    1. Carol, I would use a good quality dense foam. I believe I used a 1″ foam. You can use any kind of lining, but I like to use a flannel interlining.

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