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How to Reupholster an Office Chair Without a Professional

After a while, our trusty office chairs can begin to wear and look run down. But if your chair is in perfect working condition and only needs a facelift, we’re here to guide you through how to reupholster an office chair for a whole new look. 

Reupholstering may seem like a huge undertaking, but reupholstering an office chair is much simpler than you may think. Instead of throwing away your comfortable chair because of a few rips in the fabric, you can completely revitalize your workspace by learning how to reupholster an office chair.

Office chairs have an estimated life of  seven to 10 years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the fabric does. So if you’ve only had your chair for a couple of years and feel like it works perfectly but looks dilapidated, follow this guide to a chair that looks and feels like new.

Materials Needed

  • At least two yards of home décor fabric (if you’re nervous, buy 3 yards)
  • Heavy-duty staples
  • Heavy-duty stapler
  • Staple lifter
  • Scissors
  • Spray glue (optional)

How to to Reupholster An Office Chair

Disassemble The Chair

The first step is to take the chair apart. Remove the back cushion and seat cushion from the chair. Disassembling usually just requires loosening a few screws on the back and underneath the seat.

If your chair has armrests with fabric, remove the armrests as well because you’ll want these to match the rest of the chair.

Remove Fabric

Now you can remove the fabric from the cushions. Use the staple lifter to remove the staples from the fabric. If the cushion has a plastic back, it should pop right off to reveal the staples.

Take all the staples off and pull the fabric away from the cushions. Leave the foam layer, and don’t worry about ripping the fabric, since it’s being thrown away anyway.

Be warned: removing the staples is the most time-consuming part, and you’ll need some elbow grease.

Replace Fabric

Place the fabric face down on a flat surface, so the side you want showing is against the surface. Place your cushion on it upside down. It’s better to use too much fabric than not enough. You can always cut off the extra, but if you don’t use enough you’ll have to start this step over.

how to reupholster an office chair
Source: Shutterstock

If you have some spray glue laying around, spray this onto the fabric and press the foam cushion into it. The spray glue will keep the material in place while you staple.

Gently pull the fabric around the cushion and staple it into the wood. Do not pull too tightly, or you’ll get wrinkles; do not leave it too loose, or there’ll be room between the cushions and the fabric. Be careful stapling!

Create pleats when stapling around the corners for a well-fitted fabric. Cut away the excess fabric when you’re done stapling.

Cut Fabric For Backing

Not all chairs have an extra layer of fabric on the back. If yours doesn’t, you can skip this step. Cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than the back of your chair. Fold the sides inward and staple them over the new layer of material.

Most chairs will have that plastic piece you can just pop into the back, but if it doesn’t it will likely have this fabric backing.

Reassemble Chair

Now it just all comes back together. If you also reupholstered armrests, put those back on the chair last. You may find some extra fabric while you are putting the cushions back in place. It is okay to cut these excess pieces off as you notice them.

And voila! You have a beautiful new chair that will be the envy of your office.

Tips

  • The most important part of this process is wrapping the cushion in the new fabric gently, so you don’t create any awkward wrinkling or bubbling. Just take your time doing this and flip the cushion over to make sure the fabric is laying flat.
  • Choose a fabric that you will enjoy looking at every day. If you like simple aesthetics, stay away from patterns that you will tire of quickly. If you benefit from bright and happy environments, find a sunny yellow or cheerful blue.
  • Choose a thick, durable fabric that will last a long time. This isn’t a requirement but is a good idea because it will be more comfortable and last longer.
  • Make your chair a statement piece. Your office chair is the center of your workspace, therefore works well as the focal point of your office. A bold color or striking pattern can bring the whole space to life.

Bottom Line

So whether you want to give your workspace a facelift or need to salvage a chair that looks like it is falling apart, this guide can revitalize your chair. Office chairs should last you years, but sometimes the fabric part needs a little TLC.

Have fun with this project! You get to create a whole new look for your chair in any style that you want. And although it may seem daunting, hopefully, this guide shows how simple it can be to reupholster your office chair.

FAQs

Can I Use Any Fabric?

No, not every fabric in the world will work for an office chair. But there are obvious ones like tulle, silk, and other delicate materials that won’t contour with the chair effectively.

Fabrics like those are a definite no, but in general, you should opt for a thick, durable fabric that will not tear with moderate use. Essentially you want to find a fabric that will hold up better than the previous one did. Or you’ll end up having to reupholster more frequently.

Can Reupholster Over the Old Fabric?

This is not recommended. It depends on the fabrics and the size of the chair, but no matter what, it is always better to remove the old material.

And frankly, removing the old fabric is one of the simpler steps of the process. Plus, if you want to reupholster again in the future, you may run into some problems.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of reupholstering an office chair depends on whether or not you have the materials needed already on hand. If you have the tools, it should only cost around $25 for the fabric and other materials.

If you don’t have any of the equipment, it can be much pricier. The tools are useful for other projects, so often worth purchasing.

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