how to upholster a chair

Want to learn how to upholster the seat of your dining room chairs? Here’s how!


I have a fabulous tutorial for you today….. a step by step picture tutorial on how to upholster dining room chairs! upholstering dining room chairs actually a lot easier than i thought it would be. this was my first hack at any sort of upholstering and i think more upholstery is in my future. i thought it was really fun. and the chairs turned out perfect! oh and i guess using pretty fabric helped too. haha  this is davis and i scored a nice dining room table with 6 chairs on craig’s list. very sturdy with great lines. but i really had my heart set on having soft dining room seating and really wanted some color on the seats for a change….. so we decided to upholster the chairs.  and yes, davis helped me. we like to work on bigger projects like this together. makes for some fun memories!! {i.e. a paint fight, water war, etc}HOW TO UPHOLSTER DINING ROOM CHAIRS


-fabric {i used 6 yards}

-1″ high density foam {you can also use cotton batting}

-staple gun

-staples {you’ll need a lot}

-foam adhesive {must be rated for foam. i used a spray foam adhesive found at the craft store}



-screw driver

-turkey carver {optional}

1. first remove the seat from your chair using a screw driver. {be sure to put the screws in a place where you can find them later!}
2. using your chair seat, create a cardboard template that is 1/4″ bigger on all sides.

if your chairs are squarish, mark which is from and which is back. with  mine, it is pretty obvious so i did not bother marking front and back.

3. using your cardboard template, trace and cut foam for each chair. *TIP: a turkey carver works great to cut foam! i could not find a turkey carver in stores yet {not quite turkey season yet!}, so i used scissors.

4. we applied adhesive to the top of the seat and to one side of the foam. you will want to follow the instructions on your adhesive and apply accordingly. it may be different than the one we used.

NOTE: I will admit, I tried to skip the adhesive . {commitment phobia. what if the upholstery didn’t turn out? then I’d be stuck with glue all over my seats….} but I found out the hard way that it is loads easier to adhere the foam to the seat….. it stays in place and makes the next steps so much easier! trust me. so learn from my mistake and don’t try to skip the adhesive.

5. as per our adhesive’s instructions, we allowed the adhesive to dry for a couple minutes before placing the foam on it. this gave us a permanent bond. be sure to follow the instructions on your adhesive.

6. determine what size of fabric you’ll need for each seat: measure the width of your seat across top and sides including the foam. {basically measure from the floor up over and across the width and down to the floor on the other side.} mine was 24″. then measure the front to back of the seat including the foam and the seat thickness. mine was 26″. add 4″ to each measurement. mine is 28″x30″.

TIP: make sure you know which measurement is for the seat’s width and which measurement is for the seat’s length. this helps when cutting fabric with a pattern or design.

7. cut your fabric in the size that you determined in Step 5. i cut mine to be 28″x30″.

TIP: be sure that you cut your fabric pieces with regards to the fabric print so that your design will be in the correct direction when you’ve applied it to the seat.

8. grab that staple gun and get ready for some fun! lay your fabric on a clean, flat surface and place your seat on top with the foam side down. start on one side and fold fabric over the seat. pull firmly, but not too tight. then place one staple between your fingers {be sure not to get your fingers!} so that you don’t get “staple pulls”.

TIP: do not staple next to your fingers. because when you take your fingers away, there will be lines or “staple pulls” in the fabric. {yes, we had to pull out a few staples…}

9. place one staple on the opposite side.
10. and a staple on the 3rd side.
11. and a staple in the 4th side. then go and fill in each side with staples. each time you place a staple, place one on the opposite side.
{sorry for the shoe in there. G-man decided the shot needed a shoe in it! lol and i didn’t see it until i was editing my pics. silly boy!}12. staple the fabric until you have staples about every 1-2″. it should look something like this.
13. using your scissors, snip off the excess fabric in the corners leaving about 2″ to fold over to finish your corner as shown in the next step.
14. fold over your corner fabric and play with the pleats until you like how they look. then place 2-3 staples to hold in place.

TIP: make a mental note of how you did the first corner so that you can do the remaining corners the same. there will be pleats in your corners no matter how you do it, the key is to make all the corners look the same. {ok, so that’s easier said than done. i doubt no one will notice if all your corners are a little different. like mine.:}
15. staple the other 3 corners in place.16. flip over your seat and ta-da! you have a beautifully upholstered seat. YAY! and adjust any sections with more staples as needed.  {turning over that first one was scary and exciting. what had i done? did it work??} 17. reattach the seat to the chair with your screws and screwdriver and you’re done!

way to go on upholstering your dining room chairs! that was easier than you thought it would be, right??

and if you have kids/pets, you may want to do this one last step….

 i applied 2 coats of scotch guard fabric protector to the newly upholstered seats to help prevent stains…..because my boys do stains and messes real well!

{i got my fabric from The Ribbon Retreat.}

SNEAK PEEK: now for a quick sneak peek at my dining room in my new house………i still have to finish a few things {and add a rug, etc} but its almost done! i’ll be sharing the complete reveal soon 🙂

currently i’m….

~getting ready to make these easy pumpkins!

~craving this pumpkin fudge!

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