Reupholstered Dining Chairs

Chair - Before & After

Easy to clean and beautiful too!

Seat - Before & After

The BÖRJE chairs from IKEA with the washable fabric seat covers are great because they are relatively inexpensive, but the cream color is boring and shows dirt so easily! With little kids running around, it’s just not practical to remove and wash the covers frequently enough to keep them looking nice. Why bother with that? Instead, just reupholster them with something attractive and easy to clean.

My first thought was oilcloth, or picnic tablecloth, fabric. However, a visit to the fabric store changed my mind. I had two kids and a husband waiting in the car for me to buy some fabric fast so I was especially lucky to meet an experienced employee who convinced me the oilcloth would wear out fast on the corners and the choices of fabric weren’t all that exciting since I wasn’t really going for a red checkerboard look. She suggested I buy the fabric of my choice and cover it in a thick vinyl plastic. I’m not a huge fan of vinyl, but she said her mother had done the same thing and they lasted through six children. Sold!

I found a pattern I liked with a bit of turquoise in a leafy pattern that would work in all four seasons and it was on sale!


16 Gauge Clear Vinyl (055792054168) $8.99/yard, on sale $5.99/yard
Presidio Water Fabric (400101741831) regularly $29.99/yard, on sale $17.99/yard

Cost: $35 + cost of 5/16″ staples

The receipt is dated March 17, 2012 which means it only took me three months to start this project. Procrastination rating: Moderate.

Before this project, I had zero experience with reupholstering anything. I googled a few tutorials on how to reupholster a chair. One of them said to use glue in addition to staples, but that idea kinda grossed me out and I figured the added layer of vinyl would be enough protection on the cloth so I skipped that step. Here’s what I did.

1. If you are doing four chairs, cutting the fabric is easy. Fold the 1.5 yards of fabric in half and cut along the fold to give you two rectangular pieces. Fold each of those pieces and cut along fold to give you four square pieces. Repeat for the vinyl. To measure for one chair, just be sure that you have five-six inches of extra fabric on each side of your seat.

2. Remove the seat cushion from your chair. In my case, I didn’t have to change the foam, only the fabric.

3. Lay the fabric flat with the design side down and set the seat on top of it, bottom side up. Fold over one side of the fabric and pull tight. Put one staple about a half to one-inch away from the edge of the seat centered along the width of the edge. (This was really a two person job since my staple gun was impossible to fire one-handed. Thankfully, my mom was in town visiting and she gave me a hand.) Fold over the opposite side and put one staple in the center, making sure to pull tight. Repeat for the other two sides.

4. Staple every inch to inch and a half out from the center of each side and pull the fabric tight while doing so.

5. Cut off the excess fabric at the corners (and along the sides if you want), but I left enough that if I needed to start over, I could have enough fabric to pull on.

6. Put at least three staples in the corner fabric while pulling tightly. Try to remove any creases along the edges, but realistically you’ll have one or two. Repeat for all four corners.

7.  Remove excess fabric around screw holes if you’re using IKEA chairs or wherever your seat attaches to the chair frame.

8. Repeat steps 3-7 for the vinyl. The vinyl certainly has more creases at the corner, but you don’t notice it too much on the finished product.

9. Reattach the seat to the chair frame. If you’re using the IKEA chairs and  you’ve forgotten…the sharp screws go into the chair and the flat screws go into the seat.

That’s it! So simple it hardly needs a tutorial, but I am one of those people that likes to have instructions when doing something new. In fact, after I completed my first chair, I found this tutorial on Pinterest that includes information on how to change the foam, batting, and even creating a new seat if necessary. Great tips on avoiding creases at the corners as well.