DIY Reupholstering Dining Chairs

Find out in this tutorial how easy it is to DIY reupholster your dining chairs whenever you are ready to give your dining room a make-over.

DIY reupholster dining chair

I love adding simple updates and makeovers to our home.  Buying a new couch or dining set is a bigger decision that involves my husband’s cooperation and approval (and that in itself might be a lengthy process …) so I like to go for the easier ones.

When we had moved into our home some years ago, I had already reupholstered our dining chairs.  The last material on them was a cracked brown faux leather that desperately needed to go.  So I got some fabric, and simple tools, and reupholstered 6 dining chairs (plus a stool and a footstool).

Recently, I decided that we needed another makeover to give our dining room (and living room – stay tuned for another post on that).  I wanted lighter fresher colors.  New rugs and curtains already made such a big difference but then the old dining room chairs needed updating as well.  As in, new fabric on the seats.

As you can see, our dining chairs have more of an Elizabethan look to them but they are perfectly fine and I hate to throw things out just for a change in taste.  So the challenge was to find a fabric that would bridge the new and the old.

Once I had decided on that, things moved very quickly and it took me maybe a few hours to do all 6 of them (plus the 2 above-mentioned stools).

The Tools

I didn’t need a lot of special tools for this reupholstery.  Here’s what I used:

  • a flat-head screwdriver to loosen any staples or upholstery nails
  • a pair of pliers to pull out staples or upholstery nails
  • scissors for cutting your new fabric
  • a staple gun
  • a hammer for driving staples or upholstery nails deeper in

Removing the old fabric

With my flat-head screwdriver, I loosened the old staples or upholstery nails.  Caution:  always point the tip away from you!  The last time I had reupholstered these chairs, I used A LOT of staples so this step took me a while.

I also used a pair of pliers to pull out the staples. Sometimes, they would break and I used the pliers to pull out the pieces that were stuck in the wood.

It’s a good idea to collect any pulled-out staples. They are small and can easily fall on the floor.  Nobody wants to accidentally step into them – which is why I put them all in a small dish.

Cutting the new fabric

I simply put the old fabric over the new as a “pattern” so I would get the right size.  Our dining chairs are pretty old (they might be from the 19th century) and even though they are all part of the same set, no two seats were completely the same.  Thus, I cut one piece at a time and reupholstered that chair right away.

Attaching the new fabric to the chair

This is the fun part!  I placed the cut-out piece of fabric, stretched it over the seat, and started stapling it on the underside.  I always start stapling in the middle and moving to the sides from there while stretching the fabric to make sure it’s nice and flat. Depending on what the chair seat looks like, I might have to pay special attention to the corners. As you can see, this time around I didn’t use all that many staples – just in case I change my mind again 😉

A finished chair

Here’s one of the chairs reupholstered.  Doesn’t it look so much better?

And here is the set with the dining table.  I really like how the newly reupholstered dining chairs go so much better with the new rug and I am happy about this makeover.

DIY reupholster dining chair set

Have you reupholstered chairs?  Have you been thinking about doing that?  Let me know your questions in the comments below!


  1. Perfect timing for the holidays spruce up. I have been an upholsterer since 1981. I usually add a bit of Dacron loft to soften up a bit but not every style requires that! I am currently making new cushions for my (rush seated) chairs.
    We have so much in common!

  2. Pingback: Simple Room Upgrades - Our Gabled Home
  3. Pingback: Finding and Caring For Vintage And Antique Items - Our Gabled Home
  4. These turned out so nice. We had a very similar pattern as the red fabric on our old dinning room chairs. I love how changing the fabric completely changes the look of these chairs and gives them new life.

  5. Pingback: Repairing a Cane Chair Seat - Our Gabled Home

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *