Those ugly dining chairs sitting in the corner at the local thrift shop or at a garage sale shouldn't be overlooked just yet. If the chairs themselves are still in good condition (i.e. the wood), you can give them some new life with a few tools and a little TLC. See below for instructions and tips on how to reupholster a seat on a dining room chair.

Tools Needed For The Job:

  • Fabric (amount will depend on how many chairs you are reupholstering)
  • Foam
  • Screwdriver (flat head and Phillips)
  • Utility knife
  • Fabric stapler
  • Hammer
  • Fabric scissors


  1. Remove the old chair pad from the chair. If it has screws holding it in place, remove the screws.
  2. Next, take the old fabric off of the plywood seat. It is most likely held by staples, so use your flat head screwdriver to remove the staples, then remove and dispose of the fabric and any foam beneath.
  3. Add new foam by placing the seat onto the foam and cutting around the shape of the seat using a utility knife. 
  4. To cut out the fabric, line up the foam onto the fabric and be sure the pattern is where you want it to be (if you have patterned fabric). Before cutting it, be sure you leave 6-7 inches around the fabric to account for the foam and the wooden seat. 
  5. After you have the fabric cut to size, you can place the foam back onto the wooden seat and then wrap the fabric around them both. Line up your fabric again, then carefully staple it into place using the fabric stapler. Save the corners for last and; staple around the edges first.
  6. Once you have the edges stapled, use your hammer to pound down any staples that didn't go into the wood all the way.
  7. Finally, fold the corners of the fabric to your liking and then staple them into place. Repeat for the remaining three corners.
  8. Reattach the seat to the chair and enjoy your new reupholstered chair cushions.

If your chair itself is lacking in style, you can give it some new life by painting the wood or sanding them down and re-staining them before adding a new chair cushion. Also to help prevent any stains from spilled drinks you can spray the fabric with a water repellent (found at most hardware stores). Follow the manufacturer directions on the spray can.

Reupholstering a chair seat is fairly simple to do and doesn't require you to be a sewing expert. For bigger projects, you may want to leave it to the professionals. If you're interested in learning more information, consider contacting companies like Bob Arkus Custom Upholstery Inc.