Reupholstering an office chair – it is easier than you think

Reupholstering an office chair

I have been looking around for an office chair for a while now.  I mainly work from home and after a few hours sitting on a dining chair begins to get uncomfortable.  Maybe it is the difference in height between the desk and the chair, maybe I just need to get up and walk a bit more rather than sit at the computer for hours.  Either way, I thought a proper office chair would help.

While spending a day at the company offices, I spotted some office chairs lined up and ready to be scrapped.  A quick donation to the MacMillan Coffee Morning funds and one of the chairs was mine.  It was a bit tatty so I did some research on the internet on reupholstering an office chair.  It looked straightforward and I had fabric left over from making curtains so I thought I would give it a go.

How to reupholster an office chair - before

The original cover on the chair was bright blue and very worn.  The seat felt flat when you sat on it but overall the chair was comfortable with good back support.

Before reupholstering an office chair, it is necessary to take it apart.  I used a cross-head screw driver, making a note of what went where so I would be able to put the chair back together again when I had finished.

I slid a flat screwdriver under the edge of the back rest between the pad and the plastic back, working my way round gradually easing the pad away from its fittings.  You can see the four round slots that the pegs fitted in below.  The bottom pad eventually unscrewed once the chair was dismantled:

Reupholsering an office chair - dismantled

It looked a bit scary once the chair was in pieces but made it much easier to get to the fabric I wanted to replace.  The staples around the fabric where industrial strength and I found it was easiest to prise them off with a screwdriver.  I used a small pot to collect them so I didn’t tread on them later!

While the chair was in pieces, I cleaned all the parts well.  Some parts were very dusty where it is difficult to clean on the assembled chair.

The back rest pad was straightforward to recover.  I cut the fabric to size and set about with my staple gun.  I attached the fabric at the centre of the top and bottom, and the centre of each side, pulling it as tight as I could.  Gradually working around the pad, I stapled towards each corner, checking the front remained taut and crease free.  At each corner, I gathered the fabric at the back checking it still looked smooth from the front before stapling in place.

The bottom pad was much more worn and after removing the fabric I added some layers wadding over the foam cushion.  Once that was in place I reupholstered the chair working my way round as described above.

Once the pads for the seat and back rest were finished it was time to reassemble the chair.  I was glad I noted which screws went where as it made it much easier to put back together.  The hardest part was attaching the back rest as there was a plastic cover over the support post that didn’t leave much room to get your hands in to attach it back to the chair base.

Reupholstering an office chair

It took two and a half hours to reupholster the chair and I am pleased with the end result.  The cover is nice and clean and fits better with our decor.  There is more padding in the seat so it is much more comfortable to sit on.

Reupholstering an office chair – tools required:

  • Screwdriver
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Fabric to cover the backrest and seat cushions
  • Wadding or new foam if the seat is very worn

I really enjoyed this project and reupholstering an office chair proved to be easier than I thought.  It took a little time and some simple tools to have a chair that feels new to me and is comfortable to sit on while I tip tap away at the keyboard.



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