How To Reupholster An Office Chair [6 Easy Steps]

Reupholstering your worn-out office chair is a perfect alternative to replacing it. Not only does it prevent unnecessary spending, but it also leaves your chair looking classier than ever. In this post, we’ll share some well-researched tips to help you breathe some new life into your office chair.

If you're looking to reupholster your office chair follow these steps:

  1. Get your tools and materials together.
  2. Disassemble your chair.
  3. Get rid of the old staples and upholstery.
  4. Cut the new upholstery based on the size of your seat pan.
  5. Attach the fabric cut-out to your chair.
  6. Reassemble your chair.

It looks pretty straightforward, but there’s a lot more you need to learn in each step. Not to worry because we’ve explained everything in the most transparent and most in-depth style, so you get it right in just one go. 

An office chair with a wooden desk and a divider on the side, How To Reupholster An Office Chair [6 Easy Steps]

How To Reupholster An Office Chair

1. Get Your Tools and Materials Together

To get started on the project, here’s what you’ll need: 

  • New fabric 
  • Screwdriver set
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Pair of fabric scissors
  • Glue gun 

For the fabric, you can’t go wrong with the cotton-based types. Outdoor fabrics are more complicated to work with since you have to be extra careful with them. One wrong move, and you might end up buying a whole new set.

Your cotton-based fabric should be flame retardant, resistant to sun damage, and resistant to stains.

2. Disassemble Your Chair

If your chair has armrests, start the disassembly process from there. It’s possible to reupholster your chair even with the arms in place, but it’s a lot more complicated. Save yourself the hassle, and unscrew/unlatch them from their respective fixtures. 

Invert your chair and locate the bolts or screws that fasten the seat pan to the base. Unscrew each one and lift the base from the cushion. If you feel the reassembly process may be a little complicated, take a photo of the chair before you take it apart. This will act as a guide to help in the reassembly process.

With the base and armrests gone, you’re left with the seat pan and the backrest. Locate the deep-set screws in the shell-like base and take them out using the electric screw sets. Separating the back from the seat should now be a breeze.

Click here to view this product on Amazon: 

Watch the video below for more information: 

3. Get Rid Of The Old Staples And Upholstery

Manufacturers always line the back of the seat pan with strong staples that keep the chair's fabric intact. Depending on the chair’s design, the staples can occur either in the form of huge fasteners or a series of small staples.  

As long as they’re preventing access to the old fabric, pull them out carefully using the needle-nose pliers. Move from one corner all the way to the next as you unfold the underlying fabric. When you’re done removing the staples, remove the upholstery from the seat. 

Click here to view this product on Amazon: 

If you’d like to install your new fabric on top of the old one, it’s perfectly fine! Just skip this step and move on to the next one.

4. Cut The New Upholstery Based On The Size Of Your Seat 

Spread out your fresh roll of fabric and place it beneath the seat. The wood backing should be facing upward. At this point, you can replace the old foam layer with a new one before attaching your new upholstery.

Take some measurements by folding the fabric around the edges of your seat. There’s no need to get the exact dimensions; just ensure you leave out approximately four inches to attach to the edges of your seat’s wood base. 

Once you do this, take a pair of scissors and cut out the excess fabric.

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5. Attach The Fabric Cut-out To Your Chair

If you’ve never stepped into a tailoring class, this might be the most complicated step so far. We say this because the specific shape of your office chair seat and back may not allow you to fold as easily as you think it will. If you’re patient enough, you’ll definitely nail it and get that fabric into position.

To attach your new fabric, fold it around the back part of your seat. Attach it slowly and carefully, making sure to keep the fabric flat and smooth. Get your glue gun and spread it over the area of the fabric that you want to attach, press it down, and then staple it. 

Click here to view this product on Amazon

Once you get to the corners, shape the extra fabric into a tight triangular fold. Careful not to pull too tight; you may create wrinkles and a lot of other unexpected problems. Finish up the set up by cutting any leftover fabric folds for a smooth fit.

Allow the glue approximately half an hour to dry completely before moving on to the final step. You can repeat the same process for the backrest and your armrests for uniformity purposes.  

Watch this video to learn how to reupholster your armrests and backrest:

6. Assemble Your Chair

Since there’s nothing left to do fabric-wise, proceed to reassemble your chair. Do it carefully to ensure you don’t forget a single piece or fixture. Refer to the photo you had taken earlier to find out where each part should fit. 

For an idea on how to go about this process, follow the steps in the video below: 

Don’t be scared of ruining your fabric covering when you need to drill the screws through the wood base. Poke a tiny hole through the material and go as far down as you have to. Whatever you do, just be super careful. 

Is It Worth Upholstering A Chair?

Upholstering your chair is every bit worth the energy and time you put into the entire process. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to give your office chair a fresh fabric finish:

1. Pretty Affordable

There’s a massive gap between the money you’d have spent buying a new chair and upholstering your current office chair. Upholstering a chair is quite affordable. Even if you can afford a new chair, consider putting the extra cash into something more valuable, such as a savings account. You’ll never know when you’ll need it!

2. You’re In Full Control

Ever bought something and thought to yourself, “They could have done much better than this.” With upholstering, you have maximum control over the kind of fabric you want for your chair. 

You get to decide on the design, fabric, and color that will blend perfectly with your work or home office décor. If you work from home, you should try out these 25 Wall Décor Ideas For Your Home Office.

3. It’s Eco-Friendly

Getting rid of that office chair that you don't use anymore by taking it to the dump is an alternative, but not such a good one. Reduce the level of landfill wastage in our planet by reusing your old office chair. By upholstering your chair, you save the environment from being exposed to toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases. These are the end products of factory recycling.

4. Gives A Fresh Look To Your Work Space

If you’re thinking of making a few tweaks to your work area, look no further than your office chair. Adding a fresh layer of fabric to your chair creates an attractive ambiance with minimal effort. You can achieve this by proper reupholstering, fitting quality fabrics, and artistic color combinations.

If you would like to find out more about the importance of upholstering, read our blog, "Is It Worth It To Reupholster An Accent Chair?" 

How Much Does It Cost To Reupholster A Chair?

There’s a lot that goes into reupholstering an office chair. However, based on the tools and materials provided above, it won’t cost you more than $100 supposing you’re providing your own manual labor.

To put this into perspective, basic upholstery fabric will set you back approximately $10 per yard. You’ll need three yards, so that’s 30 bucks. Here are the rest of the costs:

  • A new screwdriver set - approximately $21
  • A pair of pliers - about $9
  • A pair of scissors - roughly $6 
  • A glue gun - about $14

For your information, these prices are sourced directly from Amazon. If you add them all up, you’ll get a total of $71. Amazing, isn’t it? Imagine just how much it would have cost to buy a new office chair.

What Can I Do With An Old Office Chair?

Besides upholstering your chair, here are three other useful and valuable ways to repurpose old furniture:

Donate It To A Good Cause

Do something meaningful with your old office chair, such as giving it away to charity. There are tons of nonprofit organizations, called furniture banks, that will appreciate donated, used furniture. Once they sell your chair to interested parties, the proceeds will be used to support the homeless, physically disabled, and needy orphans.

Liquidate It 

If you’d rather recover the money you spent on your old office chair, liquidation is an option worth considering. Sell it to a warehouse-style, wholesale liquidator or any of dozens of companies out there that buy used furniture for their profit. Once you sell it to them, they resell it for a profit. Most companies typically pay about 5 to 10 percent of the item’s initial value.

Sell It To A New Occupant

If you’re relocating to a new office, try selling it to the incoming tenant. The chair you’re selling is probably a lot better than what they’re using. Sell it at a reasonable price, and they’ll gladly accept the offer. Though you won’t acquire the full value of your chair, you’ll at least lessen the load, get rid of the clutter, and make money while doing it! Two birds, one stone.


We hope this post will help you in making the most of your time and creativity. If you do a splendid upholstering job on your office chair, you should consider starting a lucrative upholstering business. 

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