How to Upholster Dining Room Chairs TUTORIAL {and a sneak peak at my dining room}

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!

Hi! I'm Linda, the craft addict behind Craftaholics Anonymous®, a craft blog. Crafting is cheaper than therapy, right? When I'm not DIYing something, I can be found taxiing around our 4 crazy kids or working out. Or shoe shopping... because you can never have too many shoes! Happy crafting! ♥

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  1. 51

    Is there any way I can do this without attaching the foam to the chair? The back corners of the chair are going to be very hard to do so I don’t want to attach the foam incase the corners are impossible to do.

    1. 51.1

      Hi Regina,
      Attaching the foam helps keep everything in place when someone sits down or moves around while sitting down. You may be able to get away without adhering the foam, it just won’t last as long. But make sure you pull the fabric really tight!
      happy crafting,

  2. 52
    Katy Burns

    I am in the process of re-upholstering our dinning room set and the only differences that I am making is I am using pinking shears on my edges and at Walmart they have thin clear vinyl for pennies on the dollar that I am placing over my fabric because I have 4 under 7! Love your tutorial!

  3. 53

    I have that exact table and chairs!! I love your tutorial. Saw it on pinterest

    1. 54.1

      Way to go, Lyssa! Your chairs turned out awesome! I like the fabric you used too. Thanks for sending me a link. I appreciate that!
      happy crafting,

  4. 55
    melody augustine

    I loved this ……am going to try it tomorrow.
    Thanks so much linda

    1. 55.1

      awesome!! Good luck! If you have any questions, just let me know. Thanks for stopping by, Meloday!
      happy crafting,

  5. 56

    I’m so glad I read this. I’m poised to recover chair seats (had to cut new bases as well) and wanted to do it right. I didn’t know about the adhesive and can see that it will make things so much easier. Thanks so much for the tip!

  6. 57

    Thank heavens for these excellent instructions on how to recover a chair cushion. I had no clue how to do it, but golly I was going to try. These instructions gave me the confidence I needed, and my dining set has a great new makeover. Thank you so much for the step by step instructions along with photos.

    1. 57.1

      Way to go, Kathleen! I’m so glad you used my tutorial! I appreciate the kind words. Enjoy your “new” dining set! :)
      happy crafting,

    2. 57.2

      I agree with Kathleen, plus, I like so much the fabric you used for the chairs.

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  8. 58
    David Posley

    Thanks for the instructions Linda. The instructions were very helpful and now i can’t wait to get started. It will be my first time doing this.

    1. 58.1

      Any time, David! Good luck with your first upholstery project! Its actually really fun to do.
      best wishes,

  9. 59
    Marnie Otero

    I was just going through my craft books and came on the section of chair coverings , so I started to want to cover my chairs because they’re so hard to sit on. So reading over the book it doesn’t explain properly how it’s done, so then thinking and thinking I thought, go to Google and find out, and found you guys. Thanks for your wonderful tips, now have to go out and see how much is a staple gun or would tacks be cheaper?

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  11. 60

    Just love it! These were the best visual instructions ever. Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. 61

    Can I do this with my couches?

  13. 62

    I love doing crafts in my spare quiet time ( not always often being a midwife).
    My next thing to do is an easy made cover for my white huge beach couch. Any suggestions.
    I’ve recovered chairs like shown, stools and done many other things. My adult sons have made stains on the fabic. I might want to try fabric spray, but the cost is huge because it’s a 9 foot couch. Any suggestions?

  14. 63

    I am glad I found a step-by-step guide because my kitchen chairs need re-upholstered. I have a kitchen round glass table and pencil rattan chairs from Ficks Reed that my cousin gave me back in 1988. I just can’t part with the set because it was a gift that has been very durable. But the last time I had the cushions re-upholstered, I took all four chairs to the shop and they laughed. Well I had no idea that I was to remove the seats before taking them in and that was at least 22 years ago (the fabric held up pretty well but is definitely overdue for replacement). I want to attempt to do them myself and hopefully they will turn out so that I can post a before and after picture.

  15. 64

    This should work on my bench in the hallway, huh? I can’t stand the fabric that’s on it!

      1. Jennifer

        That sounds like a great fall project! :) Thanks, Linda!

  16. 65

    I want to do this with white leather and stud the edges, hope they come out as well as yours did, thanks for the pics!!

    1. 65.1

      White leather + studs sounds awesome!! Would love to see a pic if you have a moment. Thanks for stopping by, Kelly! Good luck with your chairs. If you have any questions. I’m happy to help.

  17. 66

    Great tutorial. Just wondering what type of staple gun did you use? I am trying to buy one that is not too expensive but not sure which type to go for.

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    1. 66.1
      karen zepecki

      How would you upholster the spokes on the chair backs

  19. 67

    Very good tutorial and incredibly beautiful result! thank you and well done:)

  20. 68

    I can’t believe it! Whats funny is….. I have this exact table and chairs!
    I have been wanting to recover my wooden kitchen chairs
    with padded upholstery for a much cuter softer seat.
    Thank You So Much for these easy to follow instructions and photos

  21. 69

    This looks super simple. Thanks for the tutorial! Question for you, is there a special type of fabric you need to buy for furniture?

  22. 70

    Your chairs look awesome! I had to share your link on my blog since you break down each step so well. Great job! :)

  23. 71

    starting to upholster queen anne dining room chairs by Stanley and have discovered that the chair bottom is not a sold piece of wood, but a frame of wood and a stretchy- rubber band like material throughout the middle of the seat.
    should we replace this with a solid piece of wood> i am changing the fabric and pad after 14 years os use- surprised that her chair seat was not solid wood.

    1. 71.1

      I probably would replace it with a solid piece of wood because the stretchy material will not hold up as well long term. But with that said, the stretchy tethering is a lot more comfortable than a solid piece of wood under your bum! :)

  24. 72

    You did an awesome job! And you made this look super easy. I have a chair that I want to upholster so I’m going to print this out and follow your steps. My chair is round though so I anticipate some frustrations :) Also, the green looks fabulous with the dark wood!

  25. 73

    Great tutorial. I managed to get a table and chairs for really cheap. I have began to sand it all down at which point my wife to be says to me ‘ I am not sitting on a tough wooden chair!’. One problem I have is that the chairs are not squareish. They have notches on two of the sides. Any help with this please.

    1. 73.1

      Hi Vinny, You’ll want to create pleats or folds with the fabric in the notches. Depending on how big/curvature of the notch will depend on how big your folds are. The tighter the curve, the smaller the folds. Staple each fold and then move the next fold until you’ve made it around the notch. Does that make sense?

  26. 74

    I just stumbled upon this on pintrest and all I can say is thank you! I’ll be moving out of home soon and I’m scouring the web for cheap wooden chairs. This will definitely be my first DIY (which was one of my new years resolutions). You’ve made this project look so easy and doable. Very excited!!

    1. 74.1

      Thanks, Ruth! I’m so glad you stopped by today! Have fun with your DIYing this year! {fabulous new year’s resolution, btw!} If you have any questions, just let me know!

  27. 75

    I also found this on Pinterest. Looks super easy! Thank you so much for the easy tutorial!

    Greetings from the Sunshine State! :)

  28. 76
    Sirena (Lo) Karrick

    Your method looks interesting and quick. But there are other ways of doing it. There is a way to make the seat more waterproof so that the foam doesn’t soak up liquids, nor the wood beneath rot. Also there is a way of not using adhesives and making the edges of the seat just as soft as the seat itself. You could say that there is more than one way to skin a cat, or upholster a chair. (Smile)
    My youngest son and I are planning a few projects this summer. We will be repairing and updating a few dining benches and tall chairs, and a 50 year old military office chair. The dining seats will be pretty straight forward, but we might do something crazy to their table.
    I am thinking something fluffy and colorful for the office chair.
    Thanks for your ideas,
    Ms. Lo

  29. 77
    Elizabeth Swan

    i used adhesive velcro on the chairs and the foam in case i did not like the finish

  30. 78

    HI, I love the chairs. Just one picky observation, though… It’s a sneak PEEK, not “peak.” The first is something you look at, the second, the top of a mountain! Ah, English! I just thought you might want to change the title of the article so it’s correct! I see this one slip by people so easily, especially when it’s a “sneak peek,” as our fingers immediately go to the same sequence of letters after typing the first word… Then spell-check doesn’t catch it, since they’re both English words. :-)

  31. 79

    beautiful i will try and make it :)

  32. 80
    Andrea Morgan

    I want to use foam and then padding. Any suggestion on the thickness of each? Should I also use adhesive between the foam and padding? Your tutorial was extremely helpful. Thanks.

    1. 80.1

      Well, it depends on how thick you want the final product to be when you’re all done upholstering it. I’d recommend 2-3″ foam and then 1 layer {about 1″} of padding.

  33. 81

    I have chairs that are solid wood the seats dont come off, but i want to upolster them with. Foam and material to make them softer to it on. How can i do this?

  34. 82
    Matthew Morgan

    You did a great job! They look wonderful, and I love the look and colors of the whole area – thank you so much for sharing. You have inspired me to do the same to my dining room chairs, they are sadly in need!

  35. 83
    Kelly L


    What a beautiful project! Can you let me know where I can buy seat bottoms? I have 4 chair frames but the seat bottoms were destroyed by a cat. Looking to do the upholstery but cannot find the seat bottoms. Thanks. Kelly

    1. 83.1

      Are you looking for the wood seat or padding? I added padding using high density foam from the craft store.

    2. 83.2

      Hi Kelly.
      I think I’m in the same position as you. Have you found a solution which you would happy to share with me? Many thanks in advance!

      1. Thomas

        I liked this information. What I need to do is replace the fabric under the chair. It’s a black thin and flimsy material. What kind of material can I replace that with? The fabric is kind of disintegrating. What is your suggestion. My wife wants to use a pretty and soft cotton. Your thoughts?

  36. 84

    This was a very helpful article, thank you very much.
    I have a problem though and I hope you can help me – I got a second hand set of chairs and the seat bases (i.e. the actual wooden piece) are in a horrible state – they are made of chip board and are totally impregnated with smoke smell (as well as being wet through which means they are also falling apart!) – so, totally unrecoverable in my opinion… I’m pretty keen to get new seat bases before I start the reupholstering process and I would be very grateful if you know where to start here? do I go to b&q and get a wood board and battle with the cutting myself (my seats are also round cornered like yours !) or can I buy these somewhere? Thank you very much for your help in advance!

  37. 85

    Nice tutorial; great job explaining steps and pics were very helpful! Wanna try it now!

  38. 86

    Instead of adhesive you could use double sided tape. If you ever wanted to go back to hard seat just use goo gone to get tape off.

  39. 87

    Looks really nice. What brand and color is your hardwood?

  40. 88

    Nice job. If the chairs already are covered and have foam; do I just remove current cover and replace fabric not foam? I too purchased off Craigslist and am not a good craft person but would like to try?

    1. 88.1

      Yep! Unless the foam is worn out, you would just need new fabric. :)