How to Reupholster Kitchen Chairs

  • 1-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Knife or heavy-duty staple remover
Needle-nose pliers
Electric staple gun
2 yards of fabric (for 4 chairs)
Batting or an old pillow

Perhaps your kitchen chairs are looking a little dingy and could use some jazzing up. Or maybe you have come across a great vintage set at a garage sale or antique shop, and all the chairs need is new fabric on the seat cushions. Reupholstering your kitchen chairs is a relatively easy project, as long as you have the time and the proper tools.

Step 1 - Remove the Seat Cushion

Turn your kitchen chair upside down to see how the cushion can be removed. Many chairs have screws underneath that can be removed in order to release the seat cushion. Remove the screws and set the chair frame aside. Place the cushion on your table or other work surface.

Step 2 - Loosen the Staples

Use your staple remover or knife to carefully loosen the staples that are holding the fabric down. This is the most time-consuming step. It requires absolute patience and safety. Push the edge of the tool under the staple and wiggle it to loosen it from the wood. Never push the knife in the direction of your hands or body. Always push away.

Step 3 - Remove the Fabric Staples

Use needle-nose pliers to grab the loosened staples and remove them from the seat cushion completely. Discard the staples once you have freed them from the cushion. Keep the batting or stuffing in its place.

Step 4 - Add Extra Cushioning (Optional)

If your cushions are flat and worn, add extra padding to them by inserting stuffing or batting you can purchase at a craft store. For a budget option, use the stuffing of an old pillow. Place the stuffing or batting on top of the old cushion. Pull the extra stuffing away from the edges so that this piece ends up the same shape as your chair cushion. Add or take away as much stuffing as you would like for padding.

Step 5 - Cut the Fabric

Put your fabric face-down on your table or workspace. Use the fabric you just removed from the cushion as a guide to cut your new fabric to the right size by laying it flat on top of the new fabric. Cut the new fabric, using the old fabric as a guide. The amount of fabric you will need depends on how large and thick your cushions are. So, if you are adding more cushioning, take that into account and cut your fabric larger.

Lay your cushion upside down on top of the fabric, making sure not to lose any of the stuffing. This fabric will have to completely cover the top side of the cushion, as well as the sides—a piece of fabric cut too small won't work.

Step 6 - Staple the Corners or Edges

Pull the fabric up and over one corner of the cushion and staple it several times, with staples angled diagonally with the corner. Make sure the staples go all the way into the wood; they should not be poking out. Next, take the opposite corner and pull it very tight before stapling the fabric to the wood the same way.

If you have round cushions, pick a spot to begin and staple, pulling the fabric tightly up over the edge. Then pull and staple at a point straight across on the cushion, as if these were two opposite corners. Next, do the same at the points midway between the first two staples, as if there were two more corners.

Step 7 - Secure the Fabric

Starting with the corners, pull the fabric taught and staple it, almost like you were wrapping a gift with wrapping paper. Tuck in edges around corners, and make sure the fabric is lying tightly across the cushion—not too loose, but not so tight it could tear, either.

Staple in about the same place the staples were that you removed. When the cushion is reattached, the chair is typically designed to hide any staples.

Step 8 - Trim Around the Edges

Once you’ve finished stapling and the fabric is nice and tight, take the scissors and trim any extra fabric that goes more than an inch beyond the staples. Make sure the leftover fabric is not covering any holes needed to reassemble the chair, and that no extra fabric is dangling.

Step 9 - Reassemble the Chair

Put your chair back together the same way you took it apart. Put screws back into place to secure the cushion, and make sure all legs of the chair and frames are tight when you finish. You now have a fresh, new look for your kitchen chairs.