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Over time, a leather upholstered dining room chair will likely take some wear. Though leather is beautiful and sophisticated, once worn, it can look quite shabby. Is it possible to salvage the chair? How can you reupholster a leather dining chair? Doing it yourself can definitely save a ton of money. We've done some research and have the steps to reupholster a leather dining chair for you.
To reupholster a leather dining chair, follow these steps:
- Remove the old leather from the chair.
- Cut the new leather to the appropriate size.
- Attach the new leather to the chair using a staple gun.
- Replace any piping or exposed areas.
Now that you know the basic steps on reupholstering a leather dining chair, let's elaborate on each step. We'll go over a list of tools you will need, as well as address some additional questions you might have.
How to Reupholster a Leather Dining Chair
To complete these projects, have everything you need close at hand and ready to go. There's nothing more frustrating than having to pause a project to find a missing item.
- Needle-nose pliers or a flathead screwdriver -or similar tool to remove old staples
- New leather upholstery
- Staple gun
- Sharp scissors
- Fabric pins
- Felt tip marker
- Seam ripper (may or may not be needed)
- Velcro or leather glue (optional)
1. Remove the old leather from the chair
The first step is to remove the old leather from the chair. Accomplish this by starting at the bottom of the chair underneath the seat. Use needle-nose pliers or a flathead screwdriver to pry loose the staples. Some upholstery might have some metallic teeth holding the fabric in place; this is called ply grip. Most leather furniture will not have this, but if yours does, try to keep it intact for when you add the new leather.
Some upholstered chairs might also some threads holding pieces in place. For these spots, use the seam ripper.
Pay close attention as you remove the old upholstery. Take note, and potentially pictures, of how the old upholstery was placed upon the chair, as well as what order the pieces are removed. This will be your blueprint for when you begin to reupholster. Label the pieces as you remove them with your marker, so you will know which part they were for, such as front, back, right arm, etc. Keep all these parts to create an appropriately sized pattern for your new leather upholstery. Reserve any piping that was placed over the inseams if you're using the same color leather to reupholster the chair.
2. Cut the new leather to the appropriate size
Using the fabric pins, secure the old pieces of leather to the new upholstery. Don't skip pinning the two upholstery pieces together, as they will slide around if not secured. Cut around them using sharp scissors to create the new pieces. Using this method, you ensure the pieces of new upholstery are perfectly sized for your dining chair's frame. Once the pieces are cut and shaped, you may remove the fabric pins.
Note: At times, it's best to remove the old pieces before purchasing the new upholstery, so you have a good idea of how much is needed. This would prevent issues later if the amount of new upholstery purchased wasn't enough.
3. Attach the new leather to the chair using a staple gun
Using the notes and pictures you took while removing the old upholstery, attach the new pieces and secure them with the staple gun. If you neglected or forgot to take notes, begin by attaching the back piece of fabric and securing it underneath the seat with the staple gun, followed by the front, then finally the arms if your dining chair has them.
Ensure you are smoothing and stretching the leather as you secure it to prevent any wrinkles or bunches in the fabric. Remember, leather upholstery is generally quite tight.
4. Replace any piping or exposed areas
If your chair had piping around the seams, or it appears as though you left any gaps in the fabric, you can use strips of the new leather upholstery you got to cover them as discreetly as possible. The best way to secure this piping or additional strips of leather is with an adhesive designed for leathercraft. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for drying times and application instructions.
How much does it cost to reupholster a leather chair?
The cost to reupholster a leather chair runs from a few hundred dollars up to $2,000, depending on how much leather is needed to cover it. Leather runs from about $30 to $60 per yard on its own. A dining chair generally would only need about four to eight yards of fabric, so doing it yourself can definitely bring the overall cost way down.
The additional tools needed to complete this project can be purchased relatively inexpensively if you don't already own them. Many things can be rented from home improvement stores or borrowed from friends. Of course, if you frequently do DIY projects, you likely already have many of the necessary items on hand.
How do you measure leather for upholstery?
Most leather upholstery is measured in square feet as opposed to yards. Therefore, to calculate square feet, you need to multiply the number of yards you need by 18 to find the number of square feet you need. This number also considers the waste factor (the part you have leftover after cutting out your pattern). For example, a dining chair likely needs about four or five yards of leather for reupholstery. Multiply by 18 (5 x 18 =), and you need 90 square feet of leather.
Since the size and shape of chairs can vary so much, we recommend removing the old upholstery and measuring how much is needed (plus some extra, just in case) before making the leather upholstery purchase.
Is it worth it to reupholster?
Sometimes the time and effort put into reupholstery doesn't seem worth it. The cost of reupholstery can wind up being just as expensive, if not more so, than just purchasing new furniture. However, in this disposable day and age, reupholstering instead of buying new keeps that old furniture out of the landfill and reserve resources. Additionally, if a piece of furniture is considered an antique or has sentimental value, it is definitely worth salvaging. Think of all your options before deciding just to toss old furniture!
Read our post, "Is It Worth It To Reupholster An Accent Chair," to learn more about reupholstering pros and cons.
Reupholstering your leather dining chair can be a fun weekend project by following the advice above. It can save you money over having someone else reupholster that leather chair, and by revamping something you already have, you're helping keep junk out of landfills.
Read our post, "Leather Furniture Pros And Cons," to learn more about the ups and downs of owning leather furniture.