Refurbishing Dining Chairs: The Basics

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dining room chairs

(image: steevithak)

Dining chairs and the fabrics, patterns, and colors that define them benefits your whole dining space. Here are some of the basics to refurbish them yourself.


If you feel like your dining room needs a style update, one of the quickest and easiest ways to do so is recovering your dining chairs. While it may sound like a complicated task, it’s actually a straightforward project that will take you less than a day. Here’s how to do it.

1. Remove seat pad from chair

First, remove the screws that hold the seat pad to the chair. These screws are usually inset, so it’s possible you’ll need a longer drill bit or screwdriver to get them out. If the seat pad is in good condition, simply use a pair of pliers and an awl to remove the staples that hold the old fabric to the seat pad.

2. Create a new seat pad if necessary

If your seat pad is not in good condition, place the old base on a sheet of 1/2-inch plywood and trace out a new seat frame. Use a jigsaw to cut out the new wood seat. Next, place your wood seat on a piece of high-density foam that’s about one inch thick, and trace around the foam. Cut the foam out, and use a fast-drying spray adhesive to glue the foam to the wood.

Finally, use a 1/2-inch layer of polyester batting to cover the foam. Use a staple gun to attach the batting to the wood seat. Start by stapling the batting to the center of each side of the seat. After that, pull the batting tight as you go along and staple your way around the seat.

3. Cut the new fabric

Place your seat pad cushion side down on your new fabric. Use a temporary fabric pen to trace three inches from the edge around the entire seat pad. If you’re using a patterned fabric, make sure you place the seat pad in the appropriate spot on the pattern.

4. Staple new fabric to seat pad

Once your new fabric is cut, use a staple gun to attach the new fabric to the seat pad. Once again, start at the center point of the seat pad on each side. Then, put one staple on each corner of the seat pad. Pull the fabric as tight as possible, and work your way around the seat pad.

If the staples won’t go all the way down, use a hammer to tap them into place. Once you’ve finished stapling the new fabric on, use a pair of scissors to trim away the excess fabric along the outer edge of the staple line.

5. Reattach new seat pad

Finally, it’s time to reattach your newly recovered seat pad to the chair. You can use the same screws that held your original seat pad to the chair or use new hardware that fits in the existing holes. At this point, you’re ready to throw a fabulous dinner party to show off your hard work and your dining chairs that look like new.

Bringing new life to an old chair

Before you go out and spend a lot of money on brand new dining chairs, consider simply refurbishing your old chairs. If the chairs are structurally sound and in good shape, new fabric may be just what you need for a refreshed dining room.


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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.