Are your dining chairs looking a bit tired or stained? Reupholstering your dining chairs allows you to refresh your entire dining setting at a fraction of the cost of replacing it.

This project requires limited materials and is achievable with little to no upholstery experience. 


  • 12-25mm plywood (if existing is in bad condition)
  • Electric Bread/Carving Knife for cutting foam (substitute for Stnaley knife)
  • Screwdriver


1. Stripping the existing dining chairs

  • Unscrew the seat from chair bases (on underside of frame)
  • If you’re re-covering more than one chair, mark the orientation (eg. Front/back) and number each chair and seat; that way, the screw holes will line up properly when you reinstall the seats.
  • Remove staples and/or tacks (for the easiest and safest option use staple remover  #120.5) otherwise a screwdriver and pliers or side cutters can be used.
  • Remove the fabric and old foam/filling material.
  • If the wood base seems solid, reuse it. If it’s cracked, use it as a template to make a new one.

2. Checking/replacing the base

  • If the old seat is in bad shape, cut a new one from plywood. Trace around the old seat, then cut with a jigsaw or circular saw. Bevel or soften edges with a sander or router to match the old contour. Some hardware stores can also cut plywood to size.

3. Cutting the foam and wadding

  • Place the seat base on top of the foam sheet and outline it with a marker. Use a Stanley or bread  knife to cut just inside the line. To avoid tearing the foam, pull the knife toward you, using light pressure and short strokes.
  • Once foam cushion is cut, layer up pieces until you achieve your desired thickness (commonly 50mm or 75mm). If preferred these pieces can be lightly glued together to avoid movement whilst upholstering.
  • Once your foam is ready, you may wish to glue it to the timber base to avoid it slipping during the upholstery process. To do so, lightly but evenly spray adhesive onto timber base surface and foam surface. Lay the glued foam surface onto the glued base surface (ensuring to line up the timber base and foam edges).
  • Cut a piece of polyester wadding (aka Dacron or batting) approximately 10cm larger (on each side) than your seat base. On a flat work surface, place your wadding, then place your foam and seat on top (ensuring to line up the timber base and foam edges). Pull the wadding firmly over the seat and staple along each edge (folding in the corners to avoid bulky corners).

4. Attaching the material

  • Cover with calico (optional): Use the seat base to cut out a piece of calico (approximately 10cm larger at each side). Lay the calico down and place the foam and base on top (with timber facing up). Fold in edges of calico, pulling firmly and staple along each edge(folding in the corners to avoid bulky corners).
  • Determine the best layout for your material; make sure any patterns or stripes are positioned/line up correctly.
  • Lay the fabric down and place the foam and base on top (with timber facing up). Cut the fabric allowing approximately 10cm overhang on each side. Fold one edge of fabric over and place one staple in the centre. Flip seat over to check the fabric is still in the desired position (adjust if needed). Flip seat and staple in the middle across opposite side. Continue stapling opposite sides (working from the centre to the corners) and flipping to check as you go.

Tip: This stops fabric form being pulled too much in one direction (which can happen if you staple one side at a time)

  • Stop stapling 5cm from the corner.

5. Secure the corners

  • Cut off the excess wadding and fabric to remove lumpy or bulky corners.
  • Create a “butterfly corner” by first tucking the center under, then folding and tucking the material to each side.
  • When the corner looks symmetrical and tight, flip the seat over and staple the folds in place.
  • Repeat for all four corners.
  • When the corners are done, flip the seat over and cut off the excess material.

6. Install the dust cover (Optional)

  • A dustcover can be added to neatly hide the exposed fabric edges on the underside of the seat and to stop dust or cobwebs building up overtime underneath the chair base.
  • After you trim the excess fabric and batting, staple a piece of dust cover fabric to the underside of the seat.

7. Spray fabric with a fabric protector

  • For extra protection from food and drink stains, apply a fabric protection solution to your upholstery fabric. For best results, follow the directions on the bottle carefully.

8. Reattach the seats to the frames

  • Screw finished seat bases back into their corresponding frame.

9. Sit back and admire your handiwork

  • We would love to see how your project turned out! Send us an email at [email protected]
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