Today I’m going to share my tips and tricks for how to reupholster dining chairs – specifically how to get a really nice corner without any bunching! See how smooth and flat that corner is? And how nice and tight that upholstery is? I’ll show you how!
You have seen our houndstooth upholstered vintage teak chairs before, but have you ever wondered why there are only two?
We actually have a set of four, but the other two have been languishing in the basement, un-upholstered, ever since we wrapped up recovering the first two chairs in 2009. Embarrassing? A little. But I think we should applaud this procrastination because 2009 was pre-blog, so without the procrastination there would be no tutorial of how Hubby & I upholstered these chairs and did our part to keep the staple folks in business.
Hubby & I have our own way of upholstering chairs seats that guarantees a smooth and secure finished product. However, it also makes it miserable for whoever tries to undo your lovely work, because we use way too many staples. But I’ll show you how to reupholster dining chairs our way, because we create really smooth corners with no bunching.
- Quilter’s batting and/or upholstery foam (we used three layers – how much you need will depend on the size and number of your chairs)
- Upholstery grade fabric (again, dependent on size and number of your chairs – I also bought extra in case some genius spills tomato juice on one)
- Staple gun
- 8mm staples (many)
- Screw driver (to remove seat)
- Patient set of second hands
How to Reupholster Dining Chairs:
Remove the chair seat:
Save the screws some place you will find them, just in case it takes you three years to wrap up this project 😉
|These screws have literally been in this bowl since 2009|
Remove the old staples, using pliers. I really got attached to the tool pictured below because, although it is meant for cutting, it has such a fabulous grip. I used it for pulling 2.6 billion staples from the sub-floor after ripping up carpet for hardwood floors. But pliers are what you’ll probably have on hand.
Throw out the old foam – especially if it is a vintage/used piece. Blech. I’ve seen people keep the grossest foam that is starting to disintegrate. I just worry about mites and dust trapped in old foam. I used quilter’s batting because I wanted to maintain the super flat look. But usually people will use upholstery foam with some batting on top. Use what you find comfortable!
Trace the chair seat onto your foam or batting, leaving some allowance on the battin for stapling. If you’re using foam, cut the foam to size and top with a layer or two of batting.
Tips for Replacing Foam/Batting on Upholstered Chairs:
This is where we deviate a bit from other tutorials (you can skip this step if you’d prefer). Once cut out, we affix the batting to the chair seat with a few staples so we’re not wrestling with it and the fabric simultaneously. I don’t see a lot of people do this, and it is extra work, but it makes life so much easier and the end result is perfect.
After affixing, trim some of the excess batting for less bulk in the finished product.
Throughout the whole process, stop periodically and check fitment. You don’t want bunches of fabric on the underside of the seat where it will be affixed to the chair frame.
With the batting wrangled into submission, trace and cut out the fabric (making sure the pattern is “facing” the same way on each chair). You can use the old fabric as a template.
Begin upholstering by pulling the fabric tautly and stapling in a few staples on one side, then the opposite side, checking the alignment and also the tension. These first few staples really anchor your fabric, so take your time. It helps to have a second set of hands so one person can hold the fabric and the other can staple.
Tips for Upholstering Corners:
Keep working your way around the seat, pulling the fabric tight and stapling. Pull corners especially smooth, even if that means you have a bunch of excess fabric a few inches from the edge.
For corners, we pull tightly and keep checking the make sure it looks sharp from the top.
To tackle the bunching, we make slits in the excess fabric once it’s stapled in place. This allows us to overlap the fabric and really staple it down smoothly. It is hard to take a photo of that because this print is so busy when zoomed in on.
We go a little staple crazy, I know this. We even add a second “ring” of staples so everything is smooth and lies flat with no puckering or bunching. But this helps keep everything smooth and looking really perfect.
When you’re done, you can add a cut-to-size piece of no-fray, very thin material to make the work look a bit tidier (for anyone who happens to be hanging out under your chair, I guess). This involves more staples.
And that’s it! Re-affix the seat to your chair and host a dinner party. Once you learn how to reupholster dining chairs, you’ll want to recover every chair you see!
Now we have a full set of four of these vintage teak dining chairs – I love how the black and white houndstooth looks with the wood.
We like to leave a little love for future DIY-ers. Anyone who is ambitious enough to remove the staple overkill happening here (gosh, I hope it’s not future-me) will be affronted by this message:
P.S. Am I the only DIY’er whose nails get totally wrecked?!? They looked so pretty in my latte post but now the deep plum shade that previously looked so chic is all chipped and worn, making me look like an angsty teen. But I couldn’t wait to show you how to reupholster dining chairs, so I didn’t stop to make them presentable again, haha.