If you’ve been lumped with a tatty old armchair you can’t get rid of, or you’ve grown attached to some furniture that’s starting to wear thin, or maybe the kids and dog have just worn out your old sofa, reupholstering a piece can really bring it back to life. Give DIY a go and save thousands!
Whether you’ve got a worn-out couch, some dining room chairs or a favourite old armchair, new upholstery can really make a piece look new again. Follow these easy steps to reupholster a set of dining room chairs — and save some money while you’re at it!
- Upholsterer’s staple remover
- Polypropylene webbing
- Staple gun
- Fabric scissors
- Foam approx 3 centimetres thick
- Tailor’s chalk
- Spray adhesive
- New fabric for seat covers and dust covers
Check the foundations
First, you’ll need to ensure the foundations of the piece are stable and secure. It’s not worth reupholstering furniture if it’s about to fall apart, if it’s old and rickety or if it’s unavoidably wobbly on its legs. Ideally, you want to start with a piece of furniture that’s got great foundations and beautiful woodwork, but just needs some new fabric to make it look fabulous and new again.
Remove the old fabric
First, take a close look at the construction of the chair and see where the last upholsterer chose to add staples; this will help you to recreate the same style when it comes time to staple the new fabric. Use the staple remover to pull the staples and tacks out of each chair, then gently lift the old fabric off the chair and discard. This is an important step — don’t try to cut corners and throw new fabric over old stained chairs, as the stains may come through and mould can gather between the layers of the fabric.
Remove the webbing and padding, if required
If you want to do a thorough job and replace all webbing and padding on the chairs, now is the time to remove these too. Take a close look at how the original webbing was created and seek to copy this technique in your new webbing.
Insert new webbing
If you’ve decided to replace the webbing, you’ll need to lay your new webbing in a cross-weave pattern across the middle of the seat. A weave will help give it extra strength and resistance when you sit on it; this is a very important step so it’s important to make sure the webbing is tight and strong. Start in the middle of the seat, and lay strips of webbing side-by-side in one direction, pulling it tight and stapling several times underneath to secure. Cut off the excess. Repeat until you’ve covered the entire seat, then repeat with strips in the opposite direction, this time weaving the webbing under and over the existing pieces to create a reinforced weave pattern.
Insert new padding
Once again, if you’ve decided to use the old webbing and padding, you can skip this step. If you’ve chosen to replace it, simply lay the foam out flat, place the seat pad on top and trace around it with tailor’s chalk. Allowing an extra centimetre or so beyond the outline, cut the foam. Spray the webbing with adhesive and place the foam on top; apply a little pressure to stick.
Lay the new fabric
Lay the fabric flat and place the seat pad on top, then trace around it with the tailor’s chalk. Allowing at least 10 centimetres extra the whole way around the outline, cut the fabric. Make three small marks down the centre of the seat pad — one at the front, the middle and the back. Do the same on the back of the fabric. Fold the fabric in half, with the right sides facing each other, and line the marks up with the marks on the seat pad. Unfurl the fabric, smooth and pull it tight with one hand, and staple it in place with the other hand. When you come to the corners, fold the fabric neatly and pull under tightly, then staple to secure. Trim the excess fabric.
To neaten up your handiwork, staple an additional, smaller piece of fabric (the “dust cover”) to the bottom of the seat pad to hide the staples and gathered ends of fabric.