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Article 10

Steps to Upholstering Your Own Chairs

A typical side chair has a seat base measuring approximately 16" by 18".  It may be totally square, or slightly wider at the front.  It may be made of plywood or other material.  If your chair has a seat base that is slightly larger or smaller than 16" x 18", you will need to make adjustments accordingly.   

For adequate seating comfort, we recommend using high density 1" foam and a layer of cotton batting on top. The foam should be cut slightly larger than the seat, about 1/4" all the way around.  The material you choose for the seat should be of upholstery quality to ensure durability.

Find your cutting measurements, leaving enough fabric to get a good grip under the seat.  For one seat, you need a "square" of about 26"x 28".  Remember that some seats are wider at the front so leave a few more inches of material.  After cutting, fold the fabric in half and notch the front and back.  Also mark the center of the front and back of the seat.  Place the foam and batting on top of the seat.  Flip right side down and place over the material.  Line up centers of seat and fabric on the back.  Make sure to stretch the material to remove any slack.  Pull the fabric taunt and staple or tack at your center marks and a couple of inches to either side.  When stapling, proceed in an alternating fashion, doing one side, then the opposing side.  You then staple the side next to that one, then the opposing one and so on.  Only staple a few per side at a time. Don't pull the fabric too much as it will leave "tack pulls". 

            Generally, 3/8" staples are fine, but if your fabric is thick, you may need 1/2" staples.  If you feel you stretched the fabric too much and that it leaves pull marks, remove a few staples with a flat head screw driver and long nose pliers and redo.   As you get closer to the corners, make sure not to bunch up too much material as it will lift the corners of the seat and leave a gap.  Pull the fabric corner at the seat corner and fold in two pleats.  You may need to trim away excess fabric.

            Once you are satisfied with the appearance of the seat, we recommend that you spray the fabric with Scotch Guard spray or other stain protectant.  After all this work, it is well worth the effort to protect it!


Bare plywood seat base ready for upholstering.

Upholstered foam seats need stain protection.






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