A step-by-step tutorial to learn how to reupholster dining chair seats on a classic secondhand faux bamboo chair.
I lost count of how many times my mother tried to teach me how to sew (I fail miserably at anything to do with a needle and thread every time). But if there is some semi-upholstery type job I swear anyone can handle, it’s to reupholster dining chair seats.
If you can wield a staple gun and a can of spray paint, I’m telling you this type of dining chair is the absolute easiest to handle.
I found these faux bamboo chairs on Facebook Marketplace for about $50 per chair, and they were rock solid sturdy. But the color and seat upholstery desperately needed some work. Oof!
Besides those issues though, these bamboo chairs were the perfect final detail for the breakfast nook makeover.
How to Reupholster Dining Chair Seats
- Screwdriver or drill
- Staple gun
- Upholstery fabric (I found this stain-resistant, high performance Crypton fabric for 75% off at an online fabric store.)
- Fabric scissors
- Spray primer (if changing the chair frame color)
- Spray paint (if changing the chair frame color – I prefer satin sheen in most cases on dining chairs)
Steps for Reupholstering Dining Room Chairs
Note: These steps below are simply for reupholstering dining chair seats by covering new fabric over existing good condition foam and batting without replacing. If you are entirely replacing the seat or removing the old upholstery first, follow this tutorial instead.
Step 1 – Remove Seat from Chair
Use a screwdriver or drill to loosen the screws underneath the chair seat to remove it from the chair frame. Save the screws to reuse later.
If the chair seat has an off-putting smell, rips, or lumps, you may want to consider removing the old fabric and foam batting with a staple remover first.
Step 2 – Cut Fabric
Place the chair seat on the upholstery fabric. Pay attention to any pattern placement.
Since my fabric has stripes, I wanted to make sure the stripes were placed symmetrically on my chair seat. So I made sure a stripe was centered right down the middle of the seat.
Cutting the new fabric around the perimeter of the chair seat with fabric scissors, leave about 3-4″ of excess fabric (depending on your seat’s thickness).
It’s better to have too much fabric excess than not enough, so cut generously.
Step 3 – Staple Front and Back of Seat
To reupholster dining chair seats, think of it almost like wrapping a present.
Place the seat on the cut fabric top-side-down. Pull one side of the fabric along the edge of the underside of the chair seat.
Staple it in place, keeping the fabric smooth along the seat edge without wrinkling or puckering.
Once the first side of the seat is stapled, repeat on the opposite side by gently pulling the fabric tight so it’s just slightly taut and staple in place.
Step 4 – Staple Corners and Side
Turn the seat cushion, pull and fold fabric into a triangular shape at the corners, and staple in place keeping the fabric slightly taut.
Once both corners are stapled, pull any remaining excess fabric along the edge and staple, keeping the fabric smooth without any puckering.
Step 5 – Repeat Stapling Corners and Side
Repeat Step 4 on the final fourth edge of the dining chair seat staple the fabric at the corners and side, keeping the edge smooth.
Step 6 – Trim Excess Fabric
You can trim any excess fabric with fabric scissors if you choose, or staple any loose fabric to the seat bottom. You don’t want any loose fabric hanging down under the dining chair later.
Step 7 – Prime Chair Frame (optional)
If you’re changing the color of the dining chair frame as well, always prime first.
Especially in dining rooms, chairs receive a lot of wear and tear from food and daily handling, so I like to use this spray primer to ensure a durable finish.
A lot of spray paints claim they’re a paint and primer all-in-one, but priming before paint always pays off on high traffic furniture.
If you’re painting a dark color, choose a gray primer instead of white to reduce the number of paint coats you’ll need.
Step 8 – Paint Chair Frame (optional)
After the primer is dry, I like to use spray paint instead of a brush whenever possible on dining chairs that have a lot of spindles and details. The process is so much faster and more even than with a brush.
Apply 2-3 thin, even coats in a steady, sweeping motion to prevent drips.
Step 9 – Reattach Chair Seat
Use the drill or screwdriver again to reattach the newly covered seat cushion to the chair frame, and that’s it!
Finished Bamboo Chairs
Can you believe these are the same bamboo dining chairs?! I love the slight nod to Chippendale bamboo style chairs. The end result for buying the chairs secondhand, plus fabric and paint came to a grand total of $60 per chair.
Taking the time to center those stripes on the reupholstered chair seats was absolutely worth it, and now the chairs look custom alongside the banquette bench. (Plus, I don’t have to worry about spills from the kids since I used stain resistant Crypton fabric.)
Favorite Chippendale Bamboo Chairs for All Budgets
Since chinoiserie Chippendale style bamboo dining chairs work so beautifully to blend a hint of traditional into a variety of decorating styles (and in case you can’t find any on Facebook Marketplace like I did), I pulled together a bunch of my favorite bamboo chairs.
The real designer bamboo chairs go for a pretty penny, but I found a bunch of less expensive alternatives if you want the look without the big price tag.
Click any of the chair images in the gallery below to shop.
Dining Nook Projects
We still have a few last small details to add in this nook (like a beautiful piece of art I can’t wait to hang), and this space will be finished!
Here are some of the projects we’ve done to this point:
- How to Install a Herringbone LVP Floating Floor Over Tile
- Corner Banquette Makeover + How to Redirect Air Vents Under Cabinets
- Inexpensive DIY Batten Wall Using Lattice Strips
- DIY Faux Marble Dining Table in Under an Hour
I cannot believe how much we have saved in remodeling this space just by shopping Facebook Marketplace and putting in a bit of extra time and work to make room feel like a reflection of our style.
Paint, upholstery, time, and muscle can do amazing things with a lot of patience in the mix.
The breakfast nook reveal is coming soon! So keep an eye out!