DIY: Reupholstering the old office chair

reupholsteringofficechair2We have an old office chair that is pretty sturdy but very uncomfortable. The seat cover has worn off and the cushion was flattened. I was having pain in my tailbone after sitting on this chair for a short while. Instead of throwing it out and buying a brand new one, I decided to reupholster the old office chair.
This is what it looked like after most probably 10 years of use.
Materials needed:

  • Upholstery fabric: dimensions based on your chair dimensions. Make sure you measure length and width including the height of the seat and add 2 more inches for stapling
  • 2″ thick high-density foam: I purchased 22″x22″ Airtex foam from Jo-Ann’s
  • Staple remover or flat screw driver
  • Screw driver
  • Staple gun
  • Optional: glue gun


1. Unscrew the base. keep your screws in a safe place

2. Unscrew armrests. Our office chair’s seat and back were fixed together with armrests. Therefore, when we took them apart, seat and back were separated. If yours are screwed together, unscrew to separate them as well.

3. Remove old cover fabric. You’ll need the staple remover of flat screw driver to remove the old staples. You can remove the old cushion foam as well. Ours was so flat that I decided to keep it on.

4. Measure and trim the foam to match the chair seat.

5. Trim the corners round to give a smooth look.

6. Lay your new upholstery fabric flat and staple it on the newly cushioned (foam) seat tightly pulling the fabric. I pleated the fabric in the back at the corners so that it looked smooth. We kept the bottom cover and stapled that one back on the fabric.

7. Screw back the base and armrests.

The newly reupholstered office chair is ready.

The whole effort took us a day, spending most of our time on removing the old staples. Putting the foam and stapling the new fabric back on took less time. You might need a spare set of hands to hold the fabric tight, while the other staples. If you are by yourself, you can first use a glue gun to secure the fabric, then staple it so that it doesn’t look sloppy.

The fabric and the cushion of the back of the seat looked good enough. So we decided to skip reupholstering the back and kept it as is.

I reupholstered the seat with a smoother, softer upholstery fabric. If I knew I was going to only do the seat and not the back, I would have purchased a matching leather fabric. It might not look super fashionable, but I’ll tell you, it is way more comfortable than it was before and that’s all it matters.

I hope this projects helps save a few worn out but still sturdy old office chairs.

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