How to reupholster your kitchen chairs

This week, our Jill of All Trades, Jill Washburn, takes us along as she dips her toe into the world of upholstery.  She starts with a relatively easy project, just re-doing the seats on a set of kitchen chairs.

Jill starts with flipping the chairs over and removing the screws that hold the seats onto the metal chair frames.  They come out easily. Jill then sets the chair frames aside and turns her attention to the seats.  Still working with them upside down, she carefully removes the staples that are holding the fabric onto the seats. 

Jill says that there are tools made to pry and pull the staples from such things.  She tried one, but it didn’t work for her because the staples on these chairs were driven so deep into the wood.  Plan B, was to use a flat blade screwdriver and a hammer to kind of chisel her way underneath the staples.  Once she got a little space started there, she could use the screwdriver to lift the staple out.  Some came out entirely that way.  Others then had to be pulled with pliers.  

It takes a little time, says Jill, but none of it is especially difficult.  It does help, she says, if you have a helper who can hold and steady the seat while you work on it.

The chairs that Jill worked on had multiple rows of staples.  One for the facing that finishes the project, one for the row of piping around the edge of the seat, and one that held the fabric in place.  It will take a little time to get them all out, but again, it’s not horribly difficult.

Try to preserve the fabric and the piping, says Jill.  You’ll want to use the fabric as your pattern for the new piece, and you’ll probably want to get some measurements off the piping, as well.

Once Jill had the fabric off of the chairs, she set the seats aside and turned her attention to the chair frames.  First, these chairs were missing some screws and hardware, so she had to replace those to ensure that the chairs would be solid in their new incarnation.  

Jill found substitute screws and connector bolts at her local lumber yard.  Even things that she thought would be virtually impossible to find were there.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone there to help you and, better yet, bring a sample of what you’re looking for.  

You can also order them online, but Jill needed them quickly and wanted to test them against what she already had to make sure that they would work and fit in her chairs, so she tried the local option first.

With the hardware replaced, the last step for this week was to give the chairs a fresh coat of spray enamel.  This way, the new hardware would blend in, and the scuffs and chips that time had left behind would be covered up.  The chair frames ended up looking like new and they are back to being very sturdy and solid once again.  

Next week, Jill will take us inside to show us how to install the new fabric on the seats and show us how to make and install new piping, as well.


To watch Jill take you through the process, just click on the video player above.