How to Reupholster a Chair Using Hot Melted Glue
Every once in awhile we run across a wonderful yard sale find... and it even had an acceptable material on it... until it started to peel away! Someone didn't know how to use a hot glue gun to change the upholstery on a chair. No problem, we'll just pull out the old hot glue gun and change it for the better...
Choose a material that is easy to work with and not too thick and won't wear quickly. Tapestry and corduroy are sometimes too thick to work well with hot glue. If you are a beginner, do not pick a pattern with strips for your first attempt, since it can be difficult to keep the lines straight. For this demonstration I chose a lightweight cotton blue jean material (not the stretchy kind).
Remove any loose or damaged material. You should never glue the material directly onto the chair without taking it apart. The damage to the visible material can make it difficult to recover the next time you want a change. Vacuum down the secure material. Do not wash it or steam it in any way.
Disassemble the chair as much as possible, keeping the parts and pieces neatly together for when you are ready to reassemble the chair.
Cut material into squares that fit over area to be covered, overlapping by at least three inches all around. (If you are going to supplement the cushion with additional batting, cut that material to fit over area to be covered but make it two inches short all the way around. Do not pull it tight when cutting.)
Beginning at the back edge, use the hot glue gun to adhere the material to the existing material. Start in the middle, then work your way to the edges by securing one portion on one side by the middle then alternate to the other side of the middle. Work back and forth. This method will help to keep wrinkles from forming in the material as you work. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot glue. Using the heel of your hand press down to firmly secure the material. (The heel of your hand is less sensitive to heat unlike your fingertips.) When that side is finished, go to Step Six.
Turn the portion of the chair to the front. If you are using batting, pull the batting over the lip and secure it first.
From there, pull the material tightly and glue it down securely. As you did with the back, start in the middle and work both sides alternately until you reach the corners. The batting should not go to the edge of the sides; lips are the only place the batting should touch the edge.
Continue gluing the left and right sides as you did the back and front, by first pulling the middle tight and working toward the corners. Check often to make sure you are not leaving any wrinkles. If you make a mistake, wait until the glue is cold and then pull it off and restart.
To make the corners neat, cut diagonal across the point. Glue both sides down first, then pulling the tab tightly glue it down. By cutting the material, you make the corner nice and flat. Do all four corners the same way.
Repeat the process from starting from Step Four until all the portions you want covered are done. Trim away any excess material.
Reassemble the chair and enjoy.
- Do not place the glue directly on the edge, when pressed it can cause severe burns.
- If using trim to go around the edges, use the special trim made for pillows. Glue it down first then press the material tightly to the edge of the trim to make it look professionally done.
- When working around areas where the hardware is tight up against the cushion, work extra hard to flatten the material and cut away the excess.
- If you are leaving the old material underneath, use it as a guide to where to put your hot glue. If it was secured by staples or other fasteners, put the glue right over where they attached the first material.
- Always take precautions when using hot glue. Never let children use it unsupervised.
Windy Hamilton has been a writer for more than 25 years. Her portfolio includes online content, as well as a science fiction book. Hamilton studied at Johnson Bible College and Caribbean College of the Bible.
- Photos by Windy Hamilton