DIY: 9 Simple Steps To Refinish Fabric Dining Room Chair Cushions

Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. ~Earl Nightingale

I have a large family, so I need a lot of dining room chairs (I have eight to be exact). They all have the cushions that have the light material on them. I’ve had four of the chairs for a few years and I acquired an additional four chairs when I purchased a used (but in great condition) dining room table. (I thought about refinishing my dining room tables – yes, two of them – but decided against it because they were just too old).

I had refinished my old chairs shortly after I purchased them, so they needed to be re-done again (badly!!). The new chairs I purchased also needed to be re-finished (badly!!). I also like to mix up colors while staying with a general color theme in my home. I recently purchased and hemmed new curtains in light green and off-white (shimmery) colors. I was lucky enough to have enough material of both colors to re-do all eight chairs.

I also cover them with clear plastic so that they are easy to clean up and don’t stain. I recommend this if you have children or use your chairs frequently. However, it is optional.

First and foremost, ensure your chairs can be taken apart with a few screws. To do this, just turn the chair upside down and look at how it is attached. These instructions are intended for the easy-to-remove cushions.

You will need:

  • Enough fabric to cover all of your seats
  • Enough clear plastic to cover all of your seats (optional)CYMERA_20131229_163659
  • Iron for the fabric
  • Screwdriver or drill
  • Staple gun

Step 1: Find material that you like that is enough to cover the chairs with the ability to wrap the material to the underside of the chair about three inches in. It can be all one type of material, or you can mix it up with your favorite colors. It’s your house – pick colors that you like.

Step 2: Purchase some clear plastic with the same measurements as the material. You can find the plastic in rolls that can be purchased by the square food at just about any fabric store. (I go to Walmart for mine – it’s usually more cost effective). **Hint: if you have small children I recommend the thicker plastic.**

Step 3: Detach the seats from the chair frames. There are usually a screws holding them together. (Don’t lose the screws!)

Step 4: Lay the cushion on the fabric and measure and cut it. I do it this way to ensure the pieces are big enough. Once cut, iron the fabric so you don’t have wrinkled seats.

Step 5: Repeat step 4 with the clear plastic (but don’t iron the plastic).

Step 6: Set the cushion on the fabric upside down (make sure the side of the fabric you want to look at is also face down on the table), wrap the fabric around the chair and staple one side two or three times to hold the fabric in place. Pull the fabric on the opposite side from where you just stapled and staple that side. **Hint: ensure you are pulling the fabric tight so that there’s no excess fabric bunched up.**

Then, turn the cushion so one of the corners is facing you and fold the fabric over the corner to your liking (every corner is different – just do what looks best to you). Pulling tight, staple that corner piece two or three times. Repeat on all corners.

For the two sides you haven’t stapled yet, face once side to you, and while pulling the fabric tight over the edge, staple it two or three more times to secure it in place.

Step 7: Repeat step 6 with the clear plastic.

Step 8: With the cushion upside down on the table put the chair frame on top of the cushion and align so the cushion is pushed up against the back of the chair and straight.

Step 9: Reattach the cushion to the frame using the screws. **Hint: you won’t be able to see the holes for the screws any longer because of the fabric and/or plastic. You can either cut the fabric/plastic to clear the screw holes, or you can drill the screws through the fabric. If you choose to go through the fabric it may pull the fabric. If this happens, pull the screw back out and then put it back in again.

You now have a re-finished dining room cushion. Repeat for all of your chairs. While the chair is taken apart you can clean the frame with soap and water, or even refinish that as well.


  1. We are planning to give our dining room chairs a new look, we are planing to change the fabric in the cushions into leather which seems to be very nice. Any experience on using leather for dining room chairs?

    1. I have not used leather on chairs before. I would think it would be similar, but maybe a bit thicker. Please let me know how it turns out!

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