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How to Reupholster Office Chair? – 8 Step Comprehensive Guide

Time and frequent uses of the office chair lead to its wearing-out, which turns the chair into an uncomfortable seat that will take a toll on your back. However, reupholstering an office chair is a cost-effective and sustainable way to give your chair a new life and restore its ergonomics. But where do you start, to reupholster an office chair? What materials and tools do you need? And how to reupholster office chair? 

Reupholstering an office chair involves removing the old fabric, adding new foam padding if necessary, and attaching the new upholstery fabric. The whole process may seem daunting, but with a little bit of patience and effort, you can easily do it at home. 

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In addition to saving money, reupholstering your office chair allows you to customize its appearance to fit your personal style and décor. So, if you’re ready to take on a fun and rewarding DIY project, reupholstering your office chair is a great place to start. Let’s learn a step-by-step procedure for it!

How to Reupholster Office Chair? – 8 Step-by-Step Procedure 

So, you are ready to reupholster the desk chair to restore its original look, but don’t know where to start. Don’t fret, you can do this by following some easy tips and tricks if you have proper materials and tools. Here are the steps to reupholster desk chair to recover office chair beauty; 

Step 1: Gather the Essential Tools and Material

Get ready to transform your upholstery with style and ease! Here’s the list of office chair reupholstery tools and materials; 

First things first, choose your fabric or leather, and pair it with a heavy-duty or upholstery thread for a strong and lasting finish.

Now, let’s talk about needles! You’ll want to:

  • Pick sewing needles specially designed for the thickness of your thread and fabric type
  • Check the label on your thread for the recommended needle size
  • Remember, these needles are sturdier than the average sewing needles, and the ones used for faux and real leather are more like little knives!

Sewing options? You have two!

  • You can hand sew for a personal touch
  • Or use a sewing machine to save time and effort (it worked like a charm on my chair!)

Speaking of sewing machines, here are some tips;

  • I used an all-purpose presser foot to reupholster an office chair, but many experts suggest a walking presser foot for heavy-duty upholstery fabrics
  • If your chair has piping (that fancy fabric-covered trim along the seams), you may need a piping presser foot
  • Always opt for a straight stitch

These tools will also assist in a smooth project experience; 

  • A heavy-duty staple gun
  • Pliers
  • A screwdriver
  • Sharp regular or fabric scissors
  • 1/4-in. staples for lightweight fabric or fewer layers, or 3/8-in. staples for multiple layers (a tip from Spruce Upholstery!)

And don’t forget these handy helpers too; 

  • A marker for precise markings
  • A seam ripper for fixing any stitch mishaps
  • A staple remover – trust me, it’s a game-changer compared to using pliers!

Step 2: Crafting Your Upholstery Master plan

Begin by examining your chair from every angle, sketching the back, seat, and arms. Capture every seam and mark fabric edges that attach to the chair frame. Measure each section at its widest and longest part, and jot down the measurements on your sketch. Remember to add a 1/2-inch seam allowance on sewn edges and three or four inches on stapled edges. This detailed sketch will help you determine the fabric amount and positioning before cutting.

Step 3: Chair Deconstruction Adventure

Use your smartphone to snap pictures of your chair from every angle. As you disassemble it, document the process with photos to help you remember how components fit together when reassembling. Capture each removed screw and bolt next to their corresponding pieces for hardware organization.

Step 4: Embrace the Unexpected

During disassembly, you’ll discover hidden or overlooked parts. Document these as well with photos. You might find surprises like decorative piping concealing staples or cords holding fabric taut.

Step 5: Old Meets New – Using Old Pieces as Patterns

After removing the old fabric, take each piece apart and cut the threads with a seam ripper or scissors. Use the old pieces as patterns for your new cover. Label each piece with a permanent marker or fabric pen.

Step 6: Choosing the Perfect Fabric

Upholstery fabric falls into two broad categories: fibrous cloth (polyester, cotton) and leather (faux or real). Consider different types of natural or synthetic cloth, and vinyl or polyurethane faux leather. Note that fibrous cloth and leather-like materials require different sewing needles. Upholstery fabric is usually more expensive but more durable. Shop around for the best prices and check local fabric stores for unique selections.

Step 7: Navigating Patterned Fabric

Solid-colored fabric is the easiest to work with, but if you prefer patterned fabric, pay attention to the direction of the grain and pattern elements. When lining up a pattern, account for the 1/2-inch seam allowance on sewn edges. Look for the vertical and horizontal pattern repeat on the fabric’s specifications, and incorporate it into your upholstery plan for accurate alignment.

Step 8: Smooth Moves – The Art of Fabric Smoothing

As you staple the new cover to the chair frame, smooth the fabric over the edge with your palm between every staple or two. This ensures proper fabric placement and imparts a professional appearance to your chair.

How Much to Reupholster a Chair? 

So, you’re thinking about breathing new life into your office chair by reupholstering it, but you’re curious about the cost to reupholster the chair. Well, worry not! If you already have the essential tools at your disposal, chair reupholstery costs are not too much. The only expenses you’ll incur are for fabric, thread, and any decorative trimmings you fancy, which will set you back around a mere $25.

Now, if you’re missing some of those handy tools, the cost will go up a bit. However, investing in a staple gun, pins, and upholstery needles is well worth it, as you’ll be able to use them on countless other projects in the future. As for the staple lifter, it’s entirely optional. While it can make the job easier, you could always opt for a pair of pliers or even a simple office staple remover as an alternative.


So, how to reupholster an office chair? It is quite easy by creating an upholstery plan, disassembling the chair, embracing surprises, using old pieces as patterns, selecting the perfect fabric, working with patterned fabric, and perfecting the art of fabric smoothing.  Revitalizing your chair with a fresh, personalized upholstery makeover can be an exciting and rewarding project. 

Following proper tips and techniques, you can transform a worn-out piece of furniture into a beautiful and functional centerpiece for your home. So, gather your tools, choose your fabric, and embark on this creative journey to give your chair a stunning new lease on life!


How to reupholster a chair without removing old fabric? 

To reupholster a chair without removing the old fabric, first, clean the existing upholstery thoroughly to create a suitable base. Next, cut the new fabric to size, accounting for any seam allowances, and position it over the chair, ensuring it’s smooth and wrinkle-free. Finally, secure the new fabric in place by using a staple gun or upholstery tacks, attaching it directly to the chair frame, while carefully folding and tucking the edges for a professional finish.

How hard is it to reupholster a chair? 

Reupholstering a chair can be moderately challenging for beginners, as it requires attention to detail, accurate measurements, and some basic sewing and upholstery skills. However, with patience, practice, and the right tools, most people can successfully reupholster a chair and achieve a satisfying result.

What is the best fabric to reupholster an office chair?

The best fabric for reupholstering an office chair is a durable, stain-resistant, and easy-to-clean material, such as a heavy-duty polyester or a blend of polyester and cotton. These types of fabrics offer a balance between comfort and longevity, ensuring your office chair stays attractive and functional for an extended period.