How to Reupholster an Office Chair with Arms

Have you damaged your favorite office chair’s upholstery? Here's how to reupholster it!


Have you damaged your favorite office chair’s upholstery?

Did you know you can fix that? Even if the chair has arms and complicated areas? Many professionals do it, and depending on the type of chair – the process might vary.

Pere Novak of Leap Homeward while trying to restore office chairs for people notice that: “if you are trying to reupholster an office chair it may involve a bit of sewing, but you could go without it by having the fabric somewhat less fitted”. The specifics of the process go whether your chair is tufted, or has arms.

In the following text, we’ll go over a DIY reupholstering of office chairs with arms. But, before we get t the process, let’s go over the things you’ll need:



Sewing Machine

Pin-nailer with 1” pins

Airgun with staples

Gloves and eye protection

Needle nose pliers

Upholstery weight fabric


Thread and cord

Blunt sewing needle

Staple puller

Steam iron

Step 1: Disassembly the chair

Try to take apart the chair by finding where the screws and levers are. Usually, there are more staples in the seat than in the back, but you’ll figure this out once you’ve taken out the backrest, the seat, and the arms.

Step 2: Cut the fabric

After you’ve disassembled the pieces, you can extract the old upholstery by removing the staples. When you’ve done this, you’ll have a clear picture of how large the fabric should be.

Also, if you have a directional pattern, make sure that you are following the proper direction with the cutout pieces.
The best way to cut the fabric is to put the old material on top of the new one.

Also, pin around the perimeter. After you’ve cut according to this scheme, iron out the fabric – especially the creases. If you don’t do this now, they’ll remain, even after regular wear of your chair.

Step 3: Staple the Seat Fabric

The most important thing you need to do before stapling is to get protection. Staplers can malfunction over sturdy chair construction, so to avoid staple ricochets hurting you – eye goggles and gloves are a must.

Apply the fabric on its designated place (where the old one was) and staple them.

Note: The best way to do so is by using a zigzag stapling pattern. It holds better, and it requires using less strength.

Step 4: The Back Panel

After you’ve finished with the seat, you get on to the back. This is usually hard to take apart – but if you can find a seam, insert the staple puller and tug it around the edges – it should come right off. Also, if there are head pin nails, make sure to remove them.

Note the work that the manufacturer used – there can be a cord or a ribbon, or simple serging on the edge of the fabric. I found that it is best to copy the same technique and use it. In most of my DIY reupholstering, I’ve simply serged around the edge and inserted a cord.

Don’t forget to use the needle-nose pliers and remove pin nails if any.

Step 5: The back fabric

This is usually a bit tricky, so make sure to add at least one and a half inches around the perimeter before cutting the pattern out.

Make sure to use lightweight staples for the backrest, as usually, this base is not as strong as the seat base. Also, don’t forget to iron the fabric.

Step 6: Armrests

The arms can also be tricky since they are the smallest. Make sure to remove the upholstery by unscrewing the screws on the arms. This will probably take apart the whole arm – and remember where you’ve put all your pieces.

Cut down fabric depending on the size of the arm, again, adding at least two inches on the perimeter. Staple it on after you’ve removed the old one. Again, make sure that you iron the fabric.


That’s it. Reupholstering might seem like a complicated thing to do – but if you take your time, you’ll have a DIY project and a brand new chair with a minimal investment.

Instead of buying a new chair or paying for reupholstering, all you need to do is invest a few hours, and you should have a stylish, brand-new looking chair.



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