Dining Room Furniture Reupholstering Guide

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The dining room sees serious traffic over the years, and is often used for far more than just eating. This can take a toll on chairs and their fabrics, leading to fraying and wear, but savvy do-it-yourselfers can make chairs look like new by reupholstering.

Choosing Fabric

The process of reupholstering begins with choosing the fabric for the seats. If the fabric is replaced on only one seat, then contact the manufacturer or furniture store where the dining room set was purchased to order matching fabric. The store or manufacturer will have exactly the correct size and style needed to match the other furniture.

If all the chair fabrics are being replaced, then the sky is the limit on the style of fabric. Owners can contact the furniture store or manufacturer to see about pre-fit fabrics or visit a fabric store and choose from many a variety of styles, colors and prints.

Fabric Removal

There are two areas of the chair that may require fabric replacement: the seat pad and the back. The process for replacing both is the same, but the shapes will be different. The seat pad is connected to the chair frame by screws, and the fabric is usually both screwed into the seat pad using the frame screws and stapled as well. There is also a plastic or cardboard covering stapled to the fabric to cover the exposed fabric's edges.

Unscrew the seat pad from the chair frame using a screwdriver and then remove the staples from the plastic cover and set it aside. Remove the fabric from the seat pad by removing the staples. The easiest way to remove the staples is with a flathead screwdriver.  Also, take note of how the fabric was situated on the pad. It was made to fit a specific way, and the new piece will be cut and placed on the seat pad in the same way.

Fabric Replacement

Take out the bolt of new fabric and place the old worn fabric on top of it to use it as a pattern. Cut out the exact shape of the old fabric to guarantee it will fit correctly on the seat. Place the new fabric on the ground with the seat pad on top of it, so it looks the same as when the old fabric was taken off.

Grab the fabric at the front of the seat pad and pull it up against the back of the pad. Put two staples directly in the center. This keeps it in place, but is also easily removable if adjustment is needed later. Do the same with the rear of the cushion. With both the front and rear placed correctly, and if no adjustment is needed, then staple them to the seat, starting at the center staples and working out to the edge.

Do the same for the sides, making sure the fabric is taut before stapling. The fabric is replaced and secure to the cushion. Place the plastic or cardboard covering back on the bottom and staple it to the seat pad. The seat pad can be screwed back onto the seat frame, and the chair will look as good as new.


Buy more fabric than needed: There are many possible pitfalls when replacing fabric. The fabric can rip or tear, could be cut wrong or other unforeseen issues can cause it to be unusable, so always buy more than you need. Purchase enough fabric to make two replacements for every chair fabric being replaced. It saves trips back to the fabric store or days waiting, if it's being shipped through the mail.

The right tools for the job: The stapler found in most offices is not strong enough to penetrate the tough fabric and cardboard or plastic cover. An industrial staple gun is needed and can be purchased at most hardware stores, along with a supply of industrial staples. The fabric needs to be tight against the seat and resistant to tugging and pulling.

Don't cover up a worse problem: Reupholstering does wonders for a chair, but sometimes it can also cover up mold and decay. Chairs with liquid spills can develop mold or rot to the point where they can become a health hazard or structurally unstable. If mold or wet, decayed wood is spotted when removing the fabric, then do not just cover it back up. The cushion itself may need replaced, or possibly the entire chair.

In homes with families, dining room chairs can see some major battle action over the years. Children throw everything from spaghetti to peas at them, older children drop food and drinks, and even Mom and Dad cause the occasional damage.

Most of the time, the frame is perfectly intact, but the fabric becomes a little worse for wear. Reupholstering can add years of use to chairs and save money. Who doesn't love that?

Last Updated: January 19, 2012
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About Brock Cooper Brock Cooper is a freelance writer for IdealHomeGarden.com. 

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