How to Upholster a Chair Begins by Inspecting Its Condition

You are ready to learn how to upholster a chair.  But don’t remove the first tack or staple before you inspect its condition.  This is a good practice to follow whenever you are doing any kind of reupholstery.

Before and after chair
New life for a old chair

The image on the left shows the condition of the chair when it arrived in our shop.  At first glance, this chair looks like it is ready for the junk heap. 

But when inspecting its condition underneath the covering and padding, we found  that it had a good, solid hardwood frame.  Therefore, this chair was a good candidate for reupholstery.

Even though, some of the joints were a little loose on this chair, they were easily re-glued.

The image on the right shows this same chair after it had been reupholstered.

Purpose of Inspection

Until you have completed inspecting its condition, you will not know if it will be an easy project.  Or you will not know if it will be more difficult.

Sometimes, a chair just isn't a good candidate for reupholstering, unless there is a very special reason to do so.

Inspecting Chair

Upright Position:  Set the chair in an upright position. Look at it from all directions to see whether it has retained its shape.

Look at the inside arms, especially the tops. Has the inside back retained its shape? Don't forget the cushion.

You are determining if your chair has retained its shape sufficiently so that you will not have to do major replacement of the padding.

Upside Down or Sideways:  Turn the chair upside down or sideways for easier inspection of the frame and springs. This requires removing the dust cover.

Dust Cover Removal:  When you learn how to upholster a chair, applying the dust cover should be the last thing you do to complete your chair. It is a black cover attached to the underside of the chair seat base.

It is referred to as the dust cover. It is fastened to the bottom of the seat frame with tacks or staples. It should be fairly easy to remove. Occasionally, a chair will not have a dust cover.

Visible Frame Parts:  As you look at the visible parts of the frame, what do you see? Are joints fastened together tightly? Are there any loose joints, cracks or breaks in the frame that will require the extra re-gluing?

Spring Base:  A chair usually has a spring base of some type. If it consists of "S" curved springs running from front to back, they will be visible once the dust cover is removed. If has “S” curved springs, are these spring strips fastened in place at the front and at the back with spring clips?

For coil springs you will see an interwoven bed of webbing strips running from front to back and side to side and the coils tied with spring twine.  These last for years.  They should be okay unless this is an older chair.
bad chair

 
This image shows a chair where the bottom back rail was made too short and does not connect with the back post. (see image below)

bad chair

 
This image shows more clearly the defective joint as mentioned above.  This bottom back rail was made too short when the chair was originally constructed.  We found other defective joints, similar to this, on this same chair.  Problems like can be fixed but are very labor intensive and costly, making this chair a poor candidate for reupholstery.

Simple Chair Inspection Is Completed

You have now performed a simple inspection of your chair. Hopefully, you found:

  • The padding had retained its shape.
  • The frame did not require any re-gluing.
  • The springs would not need any special attention.

If you have found everything satisfactory, you are ready to begin reupholstering your chair.

Helpful Resource

Learning how to upholster a chair is a worthwhile and rewarding skill. The ebook, How To Upholster Furniture, can be a helpful resource in learning how to reupholster a chair. Even if you do know how to reupholster furniture, this book will offer some valuable tips you probably never thought of.

One thought on “How to Upholster a Chair Begins by Inspecting Its Condition

  1. Hareshkumar

    This was decided by the stdneut who started the chair. She left it to me with the new webbing. Instead of removing the webbing and starting over, I just decided to use the webbing and pad it out. I could have added the springs or sinuous (zigzag) springs.

    Reply

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