Upholster a chair, Part 1

Imagine, you have found THE perfect chair for you, your office, or dining room. It’s an old and maybe antique chair and it has a big damage: the seat is somehow not usable any more. Maybe, it is not comfortable or, as in my case, the fabric is lacerated and the filling is coming out.

Old chair from a flee market
Close up of damaged seat


Now, you have more or less 3 options:

a) don’t buy the chair,

b) buy the chair and pay a crazy sum to professionally get it repaired or

c) buy the chair and DO IT YOURSELF (with some time, patience and tools every household has).

Next, I will describe how to remove the lacerated tissue, mount a new cushion and how to bolster it.

1. Step: Remove the lacerated fabric

What you need:

  • a slot screwdriver
  • a cutter
  • a pliers (you can see in the pictures which one is needed)

It`s pretty easy to get the whole seat out of the chair-frame. Just “click” it out of the frame  by pushing from the back of the seat against it (see picture). After you have done this, you may find nails at the back that fixate the tissue at the (wooden) seat sheet.

If the head of the nails is big enough, you can pull them out by using a slot screwdriver. Please be careful as it is very easy to “break off” and maybe hurt yourself! If the nails have a countersunk head, you can use a special pliers to pull them out. However, if the bigger head breaks during the process, the pliers is a helpful tool too (see pictures). Sometimes, even the pliers can not help. In those cases, I used the fabric as a tool and pulled on it and the nail just came out of the sheet (see pictures).

Some upholsterer are using really, really flat nails and you are lost without a special tool. In this case, only a cutter helps. So, cut the fabric right along the nails to remove it and “clean” the spaces between the nails by cutting out the fabric. Sometimes, you can rip it out.

The hard way (and the very last option) is the use of a cutter

By the way, if you bought a truly old chair, you may find straw and something that looks like dirt out of one’s vacuum cleaner (see picture). Therefore, I highly recommend to remove the fabric in a bathtub or shower, so the dirt can be easily washed away.

Filling of an old seat cushion

This is the first step. Please make sure to clean the frame from dirt, fabric remnants, nails, glue etc. This will built a perfect surface to create a new seat cushion.

Finishing the chair –>


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