Do It Yourself: Reupholster

When learning to reupholster, choose a simple piece of furniture without complex folds, buttons and piping. Select upholstery fabric that is thick in fibers and durable for wear and tear. Remove the old upholstery, but remember where and how it is attached to the furniture's frame. Doing so is key to successfully reupholstering furniture. Beginners should start with reupholstering footstools, benches, bar stools and chairs with cushioned bottoms, since they are the easiest projects.

Preparation Phase

There are rules of thumb for buying the right amount of fabric.

Step 1

Simple pieces of furniture, like footstools, make reupholstering easy.

Choose a piece of furniture. The most simple pieces of furniture to reupholster are bar stools, benches, footstools and chairs with cushioned bottoms.

Step 2

Choose upholstery fabric that matches your decor.

Select upholstery fabric that matches the color scheme of the room. Upholstery fabric is thick and durable.

Step 3

Detach the seat from the frame with a screwdriver.

Detach the cushion from the frame if working with footstools, bar stools, benches and seats of chairs. Use a flat head screwdriver to pry it off.

Step 4

Remove all original nails and staples.

Extract all staples from the back and underneath of the furniture using a staple gun staple remover or a flat head screwdriver. Remove all nails with a hammer.

Installation Phase

Step 1

Remember how the original upholstery is attached.

Remove the old upholstery slowly, keeping the pattern and shape of the fabric intact. Note how and where the old upholstery is fastened to the furniture's frame.

Step 2

Cut upholstery fabric using the original fabric as a pattern.

Cut the new upholstery fabric using the original upholstery as a pattern. Cut the fabric about 1 inch larger than the original.

Step 3

The ends of the fabric should be in the back or bottom of the frame.

Wrap the fabric around the furniture, covering the cushions. The ends of the fabric should be in back of, or underneath, the furniture's frame. In the case of footstools, bar stools, benches and chair seats, the ends of the fabric should be under the piece of wood -- the foundation of the cushion that was removed from the frame.

Step 4

Attach the upholstery with a staple gun.

Staple the ends of fabric onto the furniture's frame with a staple gun. In the case of footstools, bar stools, benches and chair seats, staple the fabric to the underside of the wooden foundation.

Step 5

Nail the cushion's wooden foundation to the furniture's frame.

Place the reupholstered cushion back on the furniture's frame when working with footstools, bar stools, benches and chair seats. Turn the furniture upside down. With a hammer, nail the wooden foundation to the frame of the furniture.


  • Be sure to sweep the area after removing all the nails and staples from the original upholstery job.

About the Author

Catherine Scruggs began writing professionally in 2011. She has also worked as a college instructor and a psychotherapist. Scruggs holds a Master of Arts in psychology from Columbia University and is working to obtain her doctorate in clinical psychology at Alliant International University.