How to Reupholster a Antique Chair

Reupholstering an antique chair may seem daunting initially, but it is quite simple and rewarding. Not only will you be able to restore an old piece of furniture to its former glory, but you can also customize the look and feel of your antique chair with different fabrics and colors.

How to Reupholster a Antique Chair

The process may take some time, but the satisfaction of completing a project is well worth it.

Reupholstering an antique chair can be a great way to restore its original beauty, update the style of your home, and add value to your furniture piece. Reupholstering an antique chair is more involved than simply replacing worn-out fabric — it requires a deep understanding of the furniture’s design and construction.

You can find step-by-step instructions on how to reupholster a antique chair in this blog article.

Tools You Will Need

  • Antique Chair
  • Old Fabric
  • New Upholstery fabric
  • Foam or batting
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife 
  • Screwdriver (depending on the chair)
  • Thread and needle
  • Measuring tape or ruler 

The restoration of an antique chair requires a great deal of patience, but the results are well worth it. By carefully reupholstering an antique chair, you can bring it back to its original beauty and enjoy it for years to come.

Step-by-step Instructions for How to Reupholster a Antique Chair

Step 1: Inspect the Chair

Before beginning the re-upholstering process, inspect the chair for any signs of damage or wear. Check that all of the joints are secure and that the wood has no splitting. If any damage is found, it should be repaired before continuing with the upholstery work.

Check That All of the Joints Are Secure

Step 2: Remove Old Upholstery

Carefully cut away the existing upholstery from the chair using a sharp knife. Make sure not to damage the chair’s wood during this process accidentally. Pull off any staples that may be found and remove any other fasteners. Once all of the fabric is removed, assess what type of padding or foam was used in the chair.

Step 3: Replace or Repair Foam/P

If the padding is in good condition, it can be reused, but if it is worn or damaged it should be replaced with new foam and batting. Cut the new foam to match the size of the old padding and use spray adhesive to secure it in place.

Step 4: Measure the Fabric

To ensure that the fabric fits the chair properly, measure the area of the chair that will be covered and add an extra 6 inches to each side. This will allow for stretching when it is being applied. Additionally, measure any areas, such as arms or backs, that may require separate fabric pieces. 

Step 5: Cut the Fabric

Cut the fabric using the measurements taken in Step 4. Be sure to add ½ an inch for a seam allowance when cutting. If there are any areas that need separate pieces of fabric, cut those as well. Using a staple gun, attach the fabric to the chair’s frame. Start at one corner and stretch the fabric tightly as you staple it in place. Work your way around the chair, keeping the fabric taut and securing it with staples.

Cut the Fabric

Step 6: Attach Piping

If desired, piped edges can be added to the upholstery of the chair. Cut a length of fabric to match the circumference of the piping and attach it to the piping using tack strips or staples. Then, attach it to the chair by stapling it in place. If desired, decorative trim can be added to the edges of the chair. Measure and cut trim lengths and attach them to the edges with upholstery tacks or staples.

Step 7: Stuff the Chair

Stuff any areas of the chair, such as arms, backs, or sides, with fiberfill. This will help to give the chair a more comfortable feel when someone is sitting in it. Finish up by brushing the fabric with a lint brush and vacuuming any loose fibers or debris. This will help keep the chair looking its best for years.

Following these steps will ensure that your antique chair is reupholstered properly. With the right materials and attention to detail, it can look just as good as when it was first made.

Safety Tips for How to Reupholster a Antique Chair

  1. Wear protective gear when working with old furniture, such as gloves, goggles, and a dust mask.
  2. Make sure to have adequate lighting so you can clearly see your workspace and measure accurately.
  3. Disassemble the chair carefully using the appropriate tools, ensuring no damage or scratch to antique pieces.
  4. Thoroughly clean the chair components with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust.
  5. Carefully inspect for any potential repairs, such as fixing broken parts or replacing worn-out fabric.
  6. Select the appropriate upholstery materials that best suit your chair’s timeless antique look, considering factors like color, pattern, and fabric weight.
  7. Use foam that is of the appropriate density and height to ensure comfortable seating. Additionally, use staples and tacks of the correct size to attach the upholstery securely.
Wear Protective Gear When Working

Finally, ensure all edges are neatly finished with decorative trim or binding for added visual appeal. By following these safety tips, you will be well on your to successfully reupholstering your antique chair. 

What Type of Fabric Should You Use for Reupholstering an Antique Chair?

When it comes to reupholstering an antique chair, the material you choose for your upholstery will greatly impact the overall look and feel of the finished product. The material should be durable enough to withstand regular use and complement the chair’s style.

When choosing fabric for an antique chair, some of the most popular choices are velvet, leather, cotton, and linen. Velvet is a luxurious fabric that has been used for centuries to create beautiful upholstery pieces. It is soft to the touch and offers a range of colors and textures that can help bring out the beauty of an antique chair.

Leather is another great choice for reupholstering an antique chair. It is a durable material that will last for many years and offers an elegant look. When choosing leather, consider the grain pattern and color of the fabric to make sure it complements the style of the chair. Cotton and linen fabrics are also popular choices for antique chairs.

Cotton is a breathable material that is easy to clean and maintain, while linen offers a classic look with its natural luster and texture. Both materials come in a variety of colors and patterns, allowing you to customize your upholstery to match the style of your chair.

Are There Any Special Considerations When Reupholstering an Antique Chair?

When reupholstering an antique chair, there are several things to consider. First and foremost, you should be aware of any fabric or design restrictions that may exist due to the age of the chair. Many antique chairs were made with specific fabrics and materials, so it is important to ensure that your choice of replacement upholstery will not detract from the historical value of the piece.

Reupholstering an Antique Chair

Additionally, it is important to be aware of any structural issues that may exist with an antique chair prior to reupholstering.

If there are any weaknesses or pre-existing damage to the frame, these should be addressed before attempting to replace the upholstery. Finally, you may need to consult a professional upholsterer when reupholstering an antique chair, as the process may be more complex than with a newer chair due to its age. Considering these considerations will help ensure that the reupholstering process goes smoothly and produces the desired results.

How Can You Ensure a Professional Looking Finish When Reupholstering an Antique Chair?

When reupholstering an antique chair, you can take a few steps to ensure a professional-looking finish. First and foremost, make sure that the fabric you choose for your project is appropriate for the age of the chair. Fabrics with a modern design or busy patterns may not be suitable for an older piece of furniture.

Additionally, it’s important to note that the color of the fabric should match or complement the existing upholstery on the chair.

Choose a high-quality foam for your antique chair reupholstering project, and make sure it is cut correctly to fit the curves and contours of your piece. If you are unable to find a pre-cut foam that fits the dimensions of your antique chair, you can have it cut to size by an experienced upholsterer.

Choose a High Quality Foam

For a professional-looking finish, ensure all seams are perfectly straight without gaps or puckering. Hand-sewing is often recommended for reupholstering antique chairs as this will provide a stronger, more durable seam.

What Techniques Should You Use to Avoid Damaging the Antique Chair During the Reupholstering Process?

When reupholstering an antique chair, it is important to take extra care to avoid damaging the furniture. The techniques you should use depend largely on the type of chair and the fabric you are using. If the chair has wooden components or metal parts, you should use an appropriate cleaner before starting any reupholstering process. This will help reduce the risk of damaging the furniture by removing any dirt or debris that may have accumulated over time.

When it comes to replacing the upholstery fabric, always use a gentle hand and take care not to stretch it too much, as this could damage the chair’s structure. If possible, try to cut pieces of the fabric that are slightly larger than the area you will be covering. This should allow for a few extra inches of fabric to provide some cushioning when stretching it over the chair’s frame.

Are There Any Common Mistakes to Avoid When Reupholstering an Antique Chair?

When it comes to reupholstering an antique chair, a few common mistakes should be avoided to ensure the best possible outcome. First and foremost, never try to take shortcuts when working with an old piece of furniture. It’s important to give the job your full attention and consider every detail carefully. Another common mistake to avoid is not taking the time to properly assess the condition of the chair before beginning.

Carefully check for signs of wear, damage, or weak spots that may need repair prior to reupholstering. This will help ensure that any repairs made are done correctly and with the appropriate materials.

It’s also important to use the best quality materials when reupholstering an antique chair. If you can’t find the same fabric originally used on the chair, look for something of similar quality and color. Also, make sure to use the proper tools and techniques to complete each step.

How Can You Make Sure the Fabric is Securely Attached to the Antique Chair After Reupholstering It? 

Once you have chosen and measured a suitable fabric correctly, the next step is securely attaching it to the antique chair. Ensure that all of your measurements are exact, as this will ensure a seamless look when the project is complete. Before attaching the fabric, use staples or tacks to temporarily hold the material in place. This will make it easier to adjust the fabric until it is positioned correctly.

Then, use a staple gun to start at the center of one side of the chair and work your way around until you have attached all of the edges. If using tacks, this should be done from left to right. Ensure that the staples or tacks are evenly distributed throughout the chair and penetrate deep enough into the frame. Once all the fabric is attached, use a hammer to ensure that each staple or tack is secure.

Use a Staple Gun

You can choose to add decorative trim or buttons for aesthetic appeal. Your antique chair should now be reupholstered and to use. You can easily bring a new life to an old chair with the right tools and techniques.


In conclusion,  reupholstering an antique chair is not as daunting as it may seem. By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can give a much-loved piece of furniture a new lease on life and ensure that it continues to provide many years of use and enjoyment.

With careful planning, patience, and the right tools, you can confidently take on the task of reupholstering an antique chair. I hope reading this post has helped you learn how to reupholster a antique chair. Make sure the safety precautions are carried out in the order listed.

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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