Reupholstered Living Room Chair: Upholstery Part 1

Reupholstered Living Room Chair Reupholstery Part 1_social

The living room chair is finally ready to move on the upholstery part of this project! I ordered my fabric from from fabric.com awhile ago based on the measurements I took from the pieces of fabric I pulled off the chair. Here’s what I used for this first part of the upholstery process:

  1. Staple gun (Manual Staple Gun or Pneumatic Staple Gun)
  2. Staples
  3. Fabric (Linked Navy Blue)
  4. Scissors
  5. Upholstery Foam

I started by measuring out the pieces of fabric I needed based on the fabric I pulled off the chair. I used this as a guide and add an extra 2-3 inches around the sides just to be on the safe side. I started with the fabric that lines the back of the chair here. I also measured out fabric to cover the seat cushion (not pictured).

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Next, I set up my air compressor and pneumatic staple gun. I LOVE my staple gun. A manual staple gun will work, but after a few upholstery projects I switched to a pneumatic one which is much easier to use. I bought the compressor and staple gun from Amazon and the connector cord from Home Depot (see supplies for links).

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Next, I folded the fabric in half to center it across the back of the chair.

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Once I placed the fabric, I stapled 4 staples at the center of each of the edges, making sure the pull the fabric taught. I push down on the tip of the stapler, then pull the trigger. Stapling in the center of each side helps center the fabric and makes sure the fabric doesn’t pull all over the place as you’re stapling around the edges. I placed the staples just inside the channel because the actual back cushion will be stapled to the chair inside the channel. I avoid stapling in the same area twice because I don’t want to accidentally hit another staple.

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After I centered the fabric, I stapled along the edges about 1/2″ to 3/4″ apart, then cut the excess fabric off along the edges. I left about 1/4″ of fabric around the sides.

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Tip: Using a geometric fabric provides a guide for straightening out the fabric. It takes a little more attention to keep it straight. If you don’t want to worry about this, use a floral or abstract pattern without a clear grid.

My chair had two seat pieces: the chair bottom screwed to the bottom of the chair and a cushion that laid on top of that. I thought about covering these separately which would require me to cover the bottom of the chair, and sew a cushion cover as well. Instead, I opted to cover the two pieces together and skip the sewing (which looked a little daunting). This also saved me from having to remove all the fabric around the two pieces as well. I love a good shortcut.

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I started by cutting out a piece of fabric large enough to cover both pieces and centered the two seat pieces in the center top side down.

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Next, I stapled wrapped the fabric around and placed a staple at the center of each edge. Again, this is to make sure the fabric stays straight and doesn’t move off center during the stapling process.

Since I was putting two pieces together, there was a gap in the front corners of the seat. I took some old scrap upholstery foam cushion to fill in the empty space, making sure the seat cushion looked filled out after the new fabric was wrapped around. You can also use pillow stuffing for this as well. The foam is just what I had on hand.

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Tip: Since I used a piece of foam, I tapered the edges by cutting the edges at an angle so it would lay smoothly and transition into the sides of the seat cushion.

Next, I stapled around front of the seat cushion, leaving about 3-4 inches from the corners. In order to get a clean corner, I folded the fabric to create a clean edge. This is what I call the hospital corners method (or how you tuck a flat sheet when you make a bed) and stapled the fabric to the back.

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I repeated the same process for the other corner and continued stapling around the sides.

My chair seat rounded in the back and started to pucker as I was moving towards the back, so instead of forcing it to wrap around (which can turn out super ugly), I made two intentional folds in the back to help the fabric lay flat. By doing this, I was able to make the fabric lay flat and have symmetrical folds on both sides of the chair.

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After making the folds, I was able to finish stapling all the way around the seat.

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The chair is really starting to come together! Keep following this series to see how I finish up the upholstery with tufted buttons and cording!

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Reupholstered Living Room Chair: Sand and Paint

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The chair rehab continues. After ripping off all the old caning and fabric from the chair, the frame was ready to be sanded and painted. Here’s what I used:

  1. 220 Grit Sand Paper
  2. Pair of old socks
  3. Optional: Gloves
  4. Disposable Rubber Gloves and/or Paint Brush or Sponge Brush
  5. Wood stain (Sunbleached)
  6. Drop Cloth/ Parchment Paper

I bought some 220 grit sand paper to scuff up the surface of the wood. Doing this helps the paint/stain adhere better. I selected 220 because its rough enough to take off the shiney layer of paint on the wood, but fine enough where it won’t leave scratch marks all over the wood.

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I prefer to use sheets of sandpaper instead of sanding blocks because I can fold, twist, and rip it into whatever shape I want. I divided the sheet into 6 equal pieces that were more manageable to work with (cut once lengthwise and cut each strip into thirds).

I also put on some work gloves to protect my hands in the process. This is optional but recommended (especially if you’ve just done your nails). I took one small sheet and got to work sanding the entire wood frame. To get into the detailed groves, I folded the sheet and worked it into all the nooks and crannies.

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Once I was finished, there was a ton of sanding dust all over the chair, but it helped me keep track of what I had and hadn’t sanded.

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If you’ve read my other reupholstery posts, this next step will look familiar. I use my husband’s sock turned inside out to clean up the sanding debris left on the chair. I put my hand in the sock, run it under some water so its damp (not soaked), and start running my hand all over the chair. The nappy texture of the sock picks up all the debris and holds it on the fabric.

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After doing this once with the first sock, I repeated the process with another sock to pick up anything left. This is to make sure that the surface is super clean for staining or painting.

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Here’s all the stuff the sock cleaning process picked up.

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Now the chair was ready for stain. I used a stain in the color Sunbleached. I used a coffee stir stick to mix up the paint. A bunch of the color tends to settle at the bottom of the can so make scrape all that up off the bottom and mix it into the stain.

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Normally I’d use a brush to apply this, but my brush was left over from a previous painting project. I didn’t rinse it out so it was super crusty and not spongy. I tried to work with it anyway, but it was leaving sponge particles all over the wood. So I decided to use my hand (covered in a glove). It actually worked out better than using a brush.

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I dipped my hand into the can and slathered it on the wood with my finger tips. I made sure to paint in the direction of the grain to make sure it didn’t look like a three-year-old finger painted it. Here’s what it looked like after one coat.

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Not bad for stain applied with my fingers. I let it dry for about 10 min before going back and applying a second coat.

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I let this dry outside for the rest of the day. Check back in for my next post on the chair’s new upholstery!

Reupholstered Living Room Chair: Prep

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Time for another reupholstery project. My brother needed a pair of chairs for his living room so I scoured Craigslist for some chairs. I found two chairs for $60 delivered. It was such an awesome deal! The chairs were structurally sound but the fabric was super dusty and stained with who knows what. This is the first post in a series for a set of reupholstered living room chairs. To start this upholstery project I needed to strip the chair down to its frame to get it prepped.

Reupholstered Living Room Chair Prep_01

Here’s what I used:

  • Chairs
  • Optional: Gloves
  • Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Clothing Steamer
  • Optional: Vacuum
  • Trash Bag

First, I took off the removable cushion from the chair then started removing the old fabric by ripping off the piping along the edge of the fabric with the pliers. I got a good grip, held the chair down with my knee, and ripped it all off.

Mine was held on with glue and staples. I’ve seen it done with just glue, just staples, and both. Depends on the chair. I threw this away into a trash bag I kept nearby. I keep all the stuff I strip off the chair in a bag for the duration of the project just in case I need to refer back to how the chair was originally put together.

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Next, I removed the seat of the chair by unscrewing the screws at the bottom of the chair. For most chairs, there are 4 screws. I wasn’t able to use my drill to do this because the screws are in the wood super deep. I also didn’t want to go get another screwdriver, so I just used a flat head screwdriver.

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After removing the seat, the staples holding the fabric to the seat back were exposed. I started to remove it by loosening the staples with a flat head screwdriver then pulling them out with pliers.

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After a few staples I got a little impatient. I gripped the fabric with the pliers and started ripping it off the chair. I made sure to keep most of the fabric in one piece because I plan on using it later to measure out the new fabric.

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I did the same thing for the seat back fabric as well. I also made sure to keep that in one piece too so I can use it to measure out the new fabric later.

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Once the fabric was removed, I used the screwdriver and pliers to remove all the extra staples left.

Originally, I planned to keep the caning (the meshy stuff) on the sides of the chair, but my brother hates it so I removed it (but not without a little Googling and YouTubing). You can skip this step if your chair doesn’t have cane or if you want to keep it.

To remove the caning, I used my clothing steamer (which is the best travel clothing steamer ever). Instructions I found used other steamers that shot out concentrated shots of steam, but I didn’t have one and I wasn’t about to go out and buy one.

So cane is attached by pushing a strip of cord into a channel around the edges. I held the steamer up to the cord and pulled it out of the channel with pliers so to release the mesh part of the caning. For some reason there is some glue gunk that holds the strip into the channel, so the steam helps release the glue and makes the cord pliable so it can be pulled out in one piece.

This takes awhile depending on how much glue gunk there is and how thick the strip of cord is. Steam until you can pull it all out with pliers. Make sure to pull out all the caning right after steaming because its super hard to get off after it dries.

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The bottom of the caning was attached with staples that I removed with a flat head screwdriver and pliers.

Side note: My dog is super upset that I took this chair apart. He’s been hanging out in it the last few weeks and now he’s lost his napping spot. That is his WHAT are you doing face.

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After removing all the caning, I did a quick wipe down with a paper towel to get rid of all the dust and stuff.

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All done. The chair is now stripped and prepped for paint/stain and some new upholstery.

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Stay tuned for progress on my chair reupholstery!

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