How to Reupholster Car Seats

The back seat of a car upholstered in vinyl.
  • 15-30 hours
  • Advanced
  • 500-3,000
What You'll Need
Seat cover fabric
Stapling hook
Seam ripper
Spray paint
White drawing sheet
Sewing machine
Upholstery stapler
Eye protection
The appropriate gauge needle and thread type

The easiest way to add instant glamour to your car is to reupholster your seats. This, along with regular service checks, can make a vehicle last for a long time. However, reupholstering has become a costly affair of late. In order to solve this dilemma, we are offering an easy step-by-step approach that shall enable you to change the look of the car without draining your finances.

Step 1 - Select the Fabric

You must decide what kind of material you want to replace the current upholstery. You have a huge range of options, ranging from leather and vinyl to funky materials with bright colors and patterns; there's something for every kind of aesthetic. Make sure that whichever color and pattern you choose will blend well with the rest of the exterior and interior design before you finish your purchase.

Step 2 - Detach Car Seats

Locate the bolts of the seat on its underside, and loosen them carefully with a wrench. Once the seat becomes detached, take it out of the car and separate the front, rear, and headrest pieces. Carefully unzip the existing covers or remove the staples holding them in the back with a stapling hook. Then, see where the hog rings are, and using a screwdriver, loosen them to free cover totally. Make a mark in the places where the seat tracks and rings are.

Step 3 - Pull the Upholstery Apart

Using a seam ripper, pull the old seat cover into pieces. These will help you make a pattern with which to cut the new fabric.

Step 4 - Repaint the Seat Frame

Check the seat frame for any spots of corrosion that will need to be painted over. If painting is a necessity, first sand the entire thing down and wipe it clean before you apply spray paint. Make sure that the paint has dried completely before beginning reupholstering.

Step 5 - Reinstall Seat Bun

Take some of the new cloth and put it on the border pads before using glue to place the seat bun as it was before.

Step 6 - Pattern Covers

Now take the fabric that was removed and spread it out on a white drawing sheet. Trace the shapes of the piece onto it to create a new pattern. You can design it according to your choice as well, but you must have some knowledge about basic pattern construction in this case. Cut out the traced patterns and place them on the new fabric to outline. Then, cut the new cloth according to your markings.

Step 7 - Stitch New Fabric Pieces

Making sure you have the right pieces matched up, use your sewing machine to stitch them together. Take care to use a proper needle and thread if you've selected a thicker fabric like vinyl.

Step 8 - Refit Covers

Put back the seats on the frames and screw the rings back into place. Make sure that the bolts are firmly re-attached in place so that the seats do not wobble. While putting on the new cloth, stretch it as you pass it through the rings on the front part of the seats. Then, wrap it around the backside of the bun, and staple the ends at the base area.

Step 9 - Finishing Touches

You may choose to re-paint the seat frames to match up to the seat cover colors. Additionally, you can insert car cushions or use car stickers to help dress up your interior. Various options like these are easily found in an accessory showroom for automobiles. What you choose to do is up to your own style!