| |

DIY Basics – How to Recover a Dining Room Chair

*Thank you to HomeRight for sponsoring this post, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

After writing this blog for nearly six years I tend to assume that my readers are all DIY masters. A lot of you are, but new people happen upon this blog everyday, many of which have never DIYed a single thing. So If you are new to DIY then a great place to start is reupholster a dining room chair. It’s easy to do, requires minimal tools, and old chairs in need of new new fabric are everywhere.

So the other day I wrote about the table I painted and stenciled, and today we are going to concentrate on the chairs.

Gold stenciled table before and after-2



Dining chair before

First you will want to remove the cushions. The cushions are usually held in place by  a few screws…just flip the chair over, remove them, and the cushion should fall right off.

I chose to paint my chairs, but that is obviously not a necessary step. If you are painting yours then you will want to take your chairs outside (or to the garage) and give them a quick sanding to remove the finish and give the primer and paint something rough to stick to.

Then you prime and paint. I used Kilz to prime and then a white latex paint on top. Chairs are always hard to paint since they are usually spindly and have a lot of different angles, so I used my Homeright Finish Max to do the job.

Homeright Finish Max

painting chairs

It makes it SO much faster than painting with a brush, and eliminates drips (which I always seem to have a problem with on chairs).

Also, I didn’t use this to paint my table and chairs (because I actually did this project about six months ago), but Homeright has recently come out with a couple of spray shelters that they sent me to try. Usually when I paint projects I take them outside, set up a drop cloth, and get to work. The problem with being out in the yard to paint is that I constantly seem to be picking dirt, leaves, and bugs out of my wet paint (or worse, finding them after the paint is dry). Either that or the wind blows and my drop cloth ends up on top of my project, which seems to happen despite using rocks and paint cans to hold it down. And if I spray my project on the porch then you have to worry about getting overspray everywhere. Anyway, Homeright came up with a solution for these problems…meet the spray shelter.

Homeright Large Spray Shelter

That is the large one, meant for big pieces of furniture. Like I said, I haven’t used it yet, but that is my almost five-year old son in there for scale. It sets up just like a tent, and you can anchor it to the ground so it doesn’t blow around. It also has a mesh screen on the front you can roll down to keep the bugs and dirt out. You will need to put your own drop cloth on the ground though.

They also came out with a smaller spray shelter for quick spray paint projects.

Homeright small spray shelter

I’ve used this one a few times and really, really like it. You can use it on a tabletop or the ground, and it folds down flat and pops up on it’s own in about second (like those windshield sun protectors). Definitely something every DIYer should have.

Alright, now that the chairs are painted let’s talk about the cushions.

First you will need to remove the old fabric. I forgot to take a picture of this part, but the fabric will be held on with staples on the underside. You will need to remove them using a screwdriver and pliers…or whatever told combination works for you. After everything is off you will be left with a piece of plywood and foam.

chair seat and old foam

Technically you don’t even have to do this step, you could just put the new fabric right over the old. This set of chairs have FOUR layers of different fabrics on the seat, so evidently leaving the fabric is a popular option. I always like to remove the old stuff though, because putting new clean fabric on top of dirty old fabric just seems wrong.

Next you will want to cut out the new fabric to size.

How to recover a chair

For the new fabric my sister-in-law (who I gave the table and chairs too) wanted something light and neutral, so I used painters dropcloth (again). Yes, I really do mean the stuff you get in the paint department  at the hardware store. It’s thick, neutral, cheap, and actually really great for upholstery.

Place chair seat on your fabric and cut a piece around it. It does not have to be perfect, just leave yourself enough room for the fabric to cover the sides and a couple of inches on the bottom. If you cut it too big that’s fine, can always cut off more later (but you can never add more!).

How to recover a dining room chair

Then put your foam face down in the center of your fabric and place the plywood seat on top.  Then  just pull sections of your fabric up tight and use a staple gun to secure into place.

(If your foam is in bad shape you could buy new foam and cut it to size, but I always try to rescue the old foam first…because believe it or not foam is stupid expensive.)chair seat reupholstery tutorial

For maximum tightness you will want to staple one side of the cushion than the opposite rather than working your way around clockwise. Other than that there isn’t really a correct way to do this, you will get the feel of it as you go along. The corners can be a little tricky, you will have to overlap the fabric and staple as needed, and you will probably feel a bit like a crafting toddler. Its okay, embrace the imperfection.

Here is what the back of mine looked like when they were finished.

dining chair upholstery tutorial

Then just screw them back onto the chair and you’re good to go!

how to recover a dining room chair

Easy, right? Now go forth and make ugly things beautiful.


Similar Posts


  1. Drop cloth is just so durable yet attractive, and fairly reasonably priced. When you staple, do you do the center of each side then its opposite side first to get the maximum tightness?

  2. I’m loving the spray shelter! A few too many things have received overspray in my garage. Or I am spray painting on the grass then I have to wait for the grass to grow to mow the hot pink away. Oops!

  3. Awesome! Very timely. I have been itching to update some furniture, but I am a chicken and I’m also kind of lazy. This spray paint gadget seems to be a great solution. How do you think it compares to regular spray cans?

  4. If you are creative enough, there is indeed a way on how to fix things and make it more functional. I would love to see a kind of chair in my dining also. Thanks a lot for sharing your ideas about it.

Leave a Reply

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