Dining chairs can easily become worn or need a fresh update. Reupholstering them is a fantastic way to introduce some new color, design, or comfort to an old set. Luckily, this process can be done at home with some simple tools, time, and craftiness. In fact, reupholstering a whole set of wooden chairs can be done in as little as an afternoon.
Wooden dining chairs can be reupholstered in a few simple steps:
- Remove the seat from the chair and measure it.
- Cut foam to size and choose fabric for the upholstery.
- Staple the fabric over the foam into the seat and rebuild the chair.
- Choose nice fabric and thick foam to make the chair comfortable.
Of course, there are plenty of additional tips on how to reupholster a wooden dining chair or other ways to spruce them up. For some of the most popular ones, read below.
How to Reupholster A Wooden Dining Chair
Now that it is known that you can reupholster a wooden dining chair, figuring out the process is the next step. Luckily, many steps are easy to start with; in fact, the longest part of the process is likely to be gathering materials that you are happy with.
As with any DIY project, taking extra time in the beginning to make sure you have all the necessary tools and are happy with the materials is worth it. Reupholstering a wooden chair is not a process that needs to be rushed, and choosing a style you are pleased with is likely to make you not need to repeat the process for some time.
Some of the standard tools and materials you will need for various steps of this process include:
- A screwdriver or screw gun
- A hand stapler
- A sharp knife
- Foam or other seat-stuffing
That’s everything most people will need for reupholstering a wooden seat! Depending on the specific chair being touched up, other materials may prove useful, such as plywood to reinforce a breaking seat.
Remove the Seat and Inspect the Chair
The first step in the process is removing the current seat from the wooden chair. This process will be slightly different for every chair, but almost every wooden one will have a set of screws or bolts that attach the seat to the legs and back.
You can often flip the chair over and quickly find the attachment hardware corresponding to the seat. While there will be small differences between chairs and manufacturers, the bottom of a chair’s basic look will remain the same. For a visual reference, this video is a quick guide.
During this step, it is worth it to take the extra time to inspect the chair for any damage. Ensure that legs are screwed on tightly, without cracks or severe warping. If there is any significant harm, consider repairing it now while you have the process already started.
Create an Outline
With the original seat removed, an outline can now be created for future cutting. Transferring the seat’s size to cardboard or paper will allow you to freely make cuts and draw on fabric without worrying about possibly damaging the original seat.
Taking the time to create an outline is especially nice if you are reupholstering multiple chairs of the same make. This way, you can remove the seat from one and trace numerous cuts at once to maximize fabric and foam use and save time.
Thick cardboard is the best material to craft an outline out of, as it is reusable and thick enough not to tear. It can also be drawn on without worry if you are using a permanent marker to draw on other materials.
Cut New Foam
With a template ready to go, it is time to cut out new foam for the chair. Using high-density foam is likely the best option for most people, especially if you are interested in a cushion that matches the chair in size rather than one that ties to the chair.
High-density foam is cheap, easy to find, and easy to cut. To cut the new foam, simply lay the cardboard template on top of the foam and draw the seat’s shape. Using a permanent marker is best for this, as other pens and markers may have trouble writing onto the foam.
Try to minimize waste by keeping the template close to the edge. Not only will this allow you to get more seats out of one panel of foam, but it will also reduce the amount you need to cut.
Cut high-density foam with a sharp knife to help avoid injury and reduce workload. Any knife can work, but it is recommended to use a serrated or bread knife to cut the foam, as serrated edges can help. Box cutters are a popular alternative, but the cutting process can be done in various ways. Read here for more information.
Regardless of the cutting tool, cut accurately and safely. While the foam can afford to have some mishaps with edging, the cleaner the edge, the easier the rest of the process will be.
Choose and Cut A Nice Fabric
Choosing fabric for the seat is arguably the most crucial step. While all previous steps have involved materials that will not actually be seen in the end product, the newly upholstered fabric will be the seat’s front and centerpiece. As such, it is best to take your time and experiment with some different fabrics before deciding on one.
If you are making any additional changes to the wooden chair, such as repainting it or adjusting the back, consider these differences when deciding on fabric. Other considerations include the general room decor and your preferred style.
After the fabric has been chosen, it is time to cut it for attachment to the chair. It is imperative to cut additional fabric so that the excess can be pulled taught and stapled in later. All edges of the new seat have to be covered, so the fabric must run down and attach at the unseen bottom of the chair.
As a general rule, cut an extra three to four inches of fabric out from the template for fabric. This should be enough to wrap around the foam and the bottom of the seat to comfortably staple it in place. While cutting enough fabric is essential, it is also essential to not cut too much; otherwise, the fabric will be loose and difficult to work with.
Once you have a cut out of the fabric, cut the batting to the same size. Batting is a thin, soft material that provides cushioning and texture to the chair. It will help elevate the foam core of the new chair into a nice, comfortable seat.
Attach Batting and Fabric to The Seat
With all the necessary parts cut and ready to put together, it is time to rebuild the seat. To start, place the cut foam on the seat and line up all the edges. With everything squared up, wrap the batting across the top of the seat. Ensure that all the edges are covered and the batting reaches the bottom of the seat with enough excess to staple it in.
While placing the batting, pull the sheet taught without squishing in the foam. Otherwise, the comfortability of the seat will be reduced.
It is easiest to complete this process with the seat flipped upside down. It may be helpful to imagine this like making a sandwich. Place the fabric on the bottom, then the batting, the foam, and then the removed seat. With everything lined up, you can now begin the stapling process.
Choose one edge of the chair and pull the batting and fabric taught to the edge with one hand. With the other, take your staple gun and begin attaching it all together. Placing staples every two inches apart or so is a good start; loose fabric in between staples is acceptable, so long as the top stays in place and nice.
Stapling the corners of the fabric is the most complicated part of this step. Fold the corners at a 90-degree angle toward one edge before stapling them down. This will result in nice corners that keep everything tied down. If your staples are thin, an extra one may be required thanks to the thicker fabric over the folds.
Reupholstering a wooden dining chair is a great way to breathe new life into and update a set. The process is simple, and many of the necessary materials are likely lying around your home. Removing the seat, measuring new foam, grabbing some fabric, and putting it all together results in a great look and a more comfortable chair!