Reupholstering Chairs

You may have an old chair hanging around, inherited, or perhaps picked up at a junk shop, Many such chairs are only marred by worn or outdated upholstery. So before you throw it out, consider reupholstering. Not only can it give a fresh new life to an ageing chair but new upholstery isn't necessarily expensive. Chairs with a simple seat cushion cost as little as $50 to reupholster in an inexpensive fabric. With thousands of suitable fabrics to choose from, all you have to decide is whether to bring the chair into the 21st century or restore it to its former glory.

Just make sure your chosen fabric is suitable for upholstery. Usually this is indicated on samples as a 'rub rating'. Anything from around 30,000 Martindale can be used but the better hard-wearing fabrics will be around 80,000-120,000.

As far as cost goes, you're looking anywhere between $85-$150 for a single seat, depending on material used and the complexity of the upholstery work.


  1. Take base frame from chair seat. Remove old fabric, Hessian, webbing, springs and staples, down to the bare frame.
  2. Create a new base using jute webbing. Use an electric stapler to fix webbing to top edge of the base frame with three to four strips (depending on size of chair base) from side to side and front to back across the base, weaving in an under/over style. Leave a margin of about 5mm around the outside edge of the frame to later staple the foam to.
  3. Cut a piece of standard 50mm foam to the size of the base (available from Clark Rubber). The denser the foam you get the harder or stiffer the seat cushion will be. Staple the edges of the foam down onto the top edge of the base frame.
  4. Cut your chosen fabric roughly to size, allowing plenty of excess to stretch it over the foam. If your fabric is striped or patterned make sure it is symmetrical and aligned with the edge of the base frame, otherwise the stripes may end up running on a strange angle across the seat cushion. Start to staple the fabric in one corner to the underside of the base frame, working along one side first. Staple the opposite side stretching firmly over the foam as you go. Continue along remaining sides.
  5. Cut away excess fabric from the underside of the base. Cut a piece of calico or plain fabric to the size of the base and staple this to the underside of the base frame. This hides the webbing and fabric edges from view.

  • Hire an electric stapler. Doing this job with a hand staple gun could wreck your wrists.
  • Staple in a layer of Hessian fabric above the jute webbing for the foam padding to sit on.
  • We used foam, but with heavy use this will only last about a year, if you want a longer life, see a professional upholsterer. They will replace the springs inside the chair cushion before they put in the padding.

Cameron McFarlane Fine Upholstery
5b North St
Balmain NSW 2041
Ph: 02 9810 3785

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