DIY · Home DIY

How to Reupholster Dining Chairs with Fabric and Vinyl (Tutorial)

Reupholstering dining chairs is almost inevitable in our home. However, learning how to reupholster dining chairs with fabric AND vinyl has been a lifesaver.

If you have kids, pets, and/or a lot of guests and visitors I’m sure you can relate.

However, even if you don’t have little ones, the natural wear and tear of dining room chairs it is almost often unavoidable.

So, instead of buying a new set of dining room chairs, why not reupholster your existing ones for a small cost?

Or, what’s even better… why not purchase a set of chairs at a local garage sale for a fraction of the cost and spruce them up?

Why reupholster dining chairs on your own?

  • Save money
  • Give them a new stylish look
  • Make them look brand new again
  • Add clear vinyl to protect the fabric from spills and stains

Upholstering and Reupholstering Dinning Chairs Options 

OPTION 1: Add transparent vinyl only

If you recently bought new dining chairs and would like to protect the existing fabric, you might want to add clear vinyl.

how to reupholster chairs tutorial

Clear vinyl adds a protective cover which protects your current dining chair’s fabric making it a breeze to clean up any spills.

You do so by following the instructions included in this tutorial with the exception of taking off the existing fabric.

OPTION 2: Reupholster with new fabric and vinyl

If you are looking to reupholster your dining room chairs with new fabric and protective clear vinyl, then this tutorial will walk you step by step on how to do that.

reupholster chairs before and after

OPTION 3: Reupholster with new fabric only

To reupholster your dining  chairs using only the new fabric, follow the step by step instructions below and skip the the vinyl applications steps.

Your choices for fabric only reupholstery include:

  1. regular fabric
  2. upholstery fabric
  3. upholstery vinyl fabric 
  4. upholstery leather fabric 

Alright, lets get started…

Reupholstering Dining Chairs Steps

(with Vinyl and Fabric)

how to reupholster chairs step by step tutorial


How to reupholster dinning room chairs materials

Special considerations:

The measurements of this tutorial are based on 4 standard dining room chairs with a seat cushions  measuring 18 x 18 inches. Ensure you measure your chairs properly in order to buy enough fabric and vinyl material.

For a full dining room chair transformation if the chair itself is scratched or stained, consider sanding it down and giving it a fresh coat of paint.

Rule of Thumb Measurements 

4- 18 x 18 inch chairs= 1 1/2 yards of fabric and 1 1/2 yard of clear vinyl

6- 18 x 18 inch chairs= 2 1/3 yards of fabric and 1 1/3 yard of clear vinyl

STEP 1: Unscrew the chair cushion

Flip the chair over and place it on top of the table or any high working surface.

Locate the screws that’s are being used to keep the chair in place. They are NOT the corner screws. Look at the image below and notice the placement of the correct screws.

How to reupholster dinning room chairs

Unscrew them, and put them in a safe place (I’ve lost a few screws in my day! Lol). Or, you can choose to leave them in place if you keep the chair upside down as you work on the cushion.

STEP 2: Remove existing fabric 

Note: If you are only applying clear vinyl you don’t need to follow this step as you won’t be removing the existing chair fabric.

If however, you will be upholstering your dining room chairs, then you will have to strip out your chair’s old fabric.

You can do that two ways:

1. You can use a staple remover to remove existing staples.

How to reupholster dinning room chairs tutorial

2. Or you can place a screw driver under the fabric lining and pull up… that momentum will help rip the old fabric and staples all at once.

How to reupholster dinning room chairs tutorial

You can also opt to keep the old fabric in place and staple the fabric over the new one. However,  in most instances the upholstery fabric is too bulky to place on top of the existing one. Specially if you will also be adding a layer of vinyl.

Note: Try to keep the the old fabric intact. You can use it as a measuring guide to trace your new fabric and vinyl.

STEP 3: Measure your Fabric and Vinyl

If you kept your old fabric, use it to trace both your new fabric and vinyl.

How to reupholster dinning room chairs tutorial           How to reupholster dinning room chairs tutorial

To save time, I like to measure my new fabric and vinyl covers at the same time.

How to reupholster dinning room chairs tutorial

If don’t have the new fabric as a guide, simply place the chair cushion on top of the new fabric and measure out 3 inches more than the actual measurement on all 4 sides.

That will ensure we have enough material to fold in all 4 sides as you staple it in.

STEP 4: Fold and staple your new fabric 

Before we start stapling the new fabric I like to circle the existing opening where the screws go so that when I staple the new fabric and vinyl I leave the screw opening exposed.

This step isn’t critical, but it makes it easier when is time to screw in the seat cushion to the chair.

how to reupholster chairs tutorial

Now, is time to fold in the fabric and staple. You can go about this different ways.

I like to fold in the corners first so that I can get a tight grip.

Then, I do parallel sides so that I can make sure to stretch out any wrinkles.

Again, identifying and indenting you screw openings is a good idea. I use a small screwdriver.

how to reupholster chairs tutorial

Step 5: Fold and Staple your Vinyl 

Once the chair cushion is fully reupholstered with fabric it is time to add the clear vinyl.

Follow the exact same steps as with the fabric.

how to reupholster chairs tutorial

Make sure to pull tightly as you staple to remove any wrinkles.

STEP 6: Screw chair cushion

Now that you have reupholstered your dining room chair cushions with new fabric and protective clear vinyl, it is time to screw it back in place.

It can be a bit tricky to screw the cushion back in place because of the new fabric. So, here are a few tips to help you through this last step:

1. With the cushion upside down, place the chair on top of it.

2. Push the chair cushion back against the chair to help the new fabric and vinyl take the shape of the chair.

3. Visually, locate the screws and the screw opening ensuring they are parallel to each other.

how to reupholster chairs tutorial

4. Finally, screw down all screws with enough force to brake through the new fabric and vinyl if necessary.

Once all screws are in place, give it a good shake making sure the chair cushion is secure… and voila!

how to reupholster chairs with fabric and vinyl tutorial

You got yourself a brand new dining chair for a fraction of the cost!

Happy reupholstering my friend.

Do you have any questions about reupholstering your dining chairs? Leave them in the comments below.

Oh, and… Don’t forget to pin for later.

how to reupholster chairs step by step tutorial


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    1. Eventually, as the kids get older, I will remove the vinyl as I like the look of fabric alone. But for the time being it has been a lifesaver. Good luck. 🙂

  1. Have you had any problems with the vinyl ripping? I reupholstered my chairs with new fabric and vinyl about a year ago and after only a couple months the vinyl started cracking then ripping. I’m wondering if I used too high of a gauge ( I think I used 12 and I see you used 6 gauge) How has yours held up? I’m going to try to replace the vinyl this week.

    1. Hey Kiersten… Yes, overtime, depending on the amount of use your chairs get and the even environmental conditions (e.g. sun exposure), can cause the vinyl to deteriorate at a faster rate. However, the thicker the gauge, the longer is is likely to last. I hope this helps. Good luck! 🙂

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