An office chair is a must-have in most workspaces. Whether you have a little home office setup or work in a proper office space outside of your home, this chair gives you comfort and support. If you want to maintain your productivity without compromising on the chair’s potential, you should know how to reupholster an office chair.
It will save a bit of money while giving the satisfaction of having a functional chair for the long run.
With regular maintenance and effort, you can keep your office chair looking and feeling like new. That will not just motivate you while at work but will also be a great boon for your health. There’s a lot to learn about salvaging your beloved office chair for many more years of use.
Why You Should Reupholster Your Office Chair
Before learning how to reupholster an office chair, you should consider the reasons behind this decision. Of course, if the chair’s frame is broken or damaged beyond repair, reupholstering isn’t the solution. In such cases, it’s wise to cut your losses and go for a whole new chair.
However, your good old office chair might still have a lot of life in it yet. If it’s just the upholstery that’s worn out, or if the material, color, or design doesn't match the rest of the place, you can get to work by following a YouTube tutorial for carrying out each step in detail to make it perfect.
Check out the tutorial in this video:
With the right kind of fabric on hand, a little time, and a certain amount of patience, your chair will soon be as good as new.
Plus, reupholstering will give your chair several more years of use. That will beat throwing it out or letting it rot in a corner.
Reupholstering Your Office Chair: It’s DIY Time!
It’s now time to finally learn how to reupholster an office chair. Whether you're working on your own or with a friend, following these steps will make your reupholstery project much easier:
Step 1: Collect the essential items
If you know how to reupholster an office chair, you know there are many components involved in this process. These include the right kind of materials, the proper tools, and a sizeable space to work in.
You might already have the required tools on hand in your toolbox. In that case, your financial investment will only be on the new fabric. You can even be able to save on this if you have some leftover fabric from upholstering the rest of the furniture.
For the fabric, we suggest that you should look for a cotton-based option. Once you have your fabric ready, here’s what you need to collect:
- Needle-nose pliers for those delicate tasks
- A boxcutter and scissors for cutting the fabric into shape
- A set of screwdrivers that match the screws or bolts on the chair’s underside
- Enough space to maneuver yourself and the chair
- A protective sheet on your workspace to prevent any scratches and to catch any loose material/screws
- A staple gun, preferably of the professional variety
- Heavy-duty staples
- A foam layer for protection and comfort
- Electric tools for getting those stubborn parts out
- A glue gun or some other form of adhesive
Step 2: Get to work with those tools
There are several office chair models out there. To know how to reupholster an office chair properly, you need to be aware of how one can take it apart safely.
An office chair with armrests, for example, may have an option for unscrewing or unlatching them before reupholstering. The first part here is to detach the armrests and set them aside.
After removing the armrests, set the chair in an upside-down position. This will allow you to see the underside, and hence the bolts and screws that attach the seat and base. You need to get all these screws and bolts out to lift the base away from the rest of the chair.
At this point, the easiest way forward is to unscrew and detach all the attachments you can find. According to the model or design of your chair, you can detach the back as well as the base. Finally, you’d lift the base off the cushion.
After this, the seat and back of your office chair should be at your disposal. These will probably have some plastic base of some sort. Remove it, check for any deep screws, and remove these as well.
You might feel a bit of difficulty, as these screws are usually embedded deep inside the framework. But your electric tools will come in handy here.
As you pull out each screw, make sure to secure it in a plastic bag or a small box somewhere. That way, you’ll be able to have all the hardware on hand when it’s time to put the chair back together.
Step 3: Those staples gotta go
Now that you have your base separated, it’s time to start removing all these staples. Get your pliers ready and pull out every staple you can see. There could be several sizes here, so make sure to get everything from the large fasteners to the tiny ones.
Pry out the staples as carefully as possible, as you don’t want to damage the wooden framework. If the staples are very heavy and large, you’ll need a heavy-duty staple remover.
You’ll notice that every corner of your office chair has a fold in the fabric. That provides a much-needed tight fit. You’ll have to unfold these corners and spread them out. After the installing is over, you can pull the old fabric away.
Interestingly, you can also simply work on installing the new upholstery over the old fabric. If the new fabric is thin and the chair’s construction is fairly simple, you can do away with this step completely. If your chair is made of vinyl, covering it with new foam and fabric will certainly make it more comfortable.
Step 4: Pull out that measuring tape
The next step is to position your new fabric under the office chair seat. The wood backing should be facing upward here. If you want to install a foam layer, put that in between the fabric and the seat.
You may now start folding the fabric about the seat to get your measurements. These don’t have to be absolutely accurate; simply leave around four inches from the wooden base edges on each side. That will give you some room to work properly and attach the fabric firmly.
Once you think you have a good idea of the shape and amount of fabric you need, start cutting it.
Step 5: Attach it
Office chair seats and backs usually have an awkward shape, so this step can be challenging. The fabric might not fold very neatly, but you should stay patient.
Start by folding the fabric on the back of your seat. Alternate sides to keep the fabric smooth. The corners come last; you can use a glue gun to attach the fold firmly before stapling. Make triangles just like you would when wrapping a gift.
When the fabric is smoothly fitting on the seat, use the staple gun to fasten it down. Trim off any excess fabric with your cutting tools.
Step 6: Get back to the backing
You now have to reattach the chair’s back with the screws that were available earlier. It might require you to poke holes for the screws, but that shouldn’t be a major issue. Again, you’ll have to be patient and make adjustments for the new fabric’s fit.
Step 7: Repeat the process with other chairs
You might want to replace the upholstery on your armrests, which will be a smaller project. The steps will remain more or less the same, though. Reupholstering the neck and headrests are more complicated as their fitted sleeves require some sewing.
You’ll have to decide whether to make the extra effort for the sake of getting a completely matching chair. It’s also a good point to spray-paint any non-fabric parts that need a touch-up.
Step 8: Reassemble the office chairs
Now that all the reupholstering steps are complete, you should attach the seat, back, and armrests of your office chair. It’s a matter of reversing your taking-apart process.
You should double-check all the components and make sure they’re safe and sturdy enough for daily use.
So, It’s a Brand New Office Chair!
After all carrying out all these steps, you’ll have a lovely new office chair for your working needs. This should support your back and keep your productivity level up.
Enjoy it to the utmost! Don’t forget to share which of the different fabric options you’ll choose while planning to reupholster your office chair.
Let us know how it goes in the comments below!