How to cover dining chair seat pads


I’ve re-covered all eight of my beech dining chairs. It’s turned out to be so much simpler than I imagined as all I had to do to reliven them was recover the seat pads. I armed myself with new fabric – beautiful stuff I found in the John Lewis remnant box for £7.50 – some synthetic batting (the padding part of the equation), and a determination to finish the job. Here’s what I did.

Equipment and materials


  • 1 x pair of good fabric scissors
  • 1 x staple-gun (very handy piece o0f equipment for any home
  • Synthetic batting
  • Good curtain or upholstery fabric (seat pads need good quality, hard-wearing fabric if your chairs are in regular use)
  • Enthusiasm

Step 1 – old pads

Old seat padRemove your seat pads from the dining chairs. Mine just push out but you may have to unscrew stays to release the pads. You can see here the dreadful state that my seat pads were in.

Step 2 – cut away

Cutting away old seatpad coverIt’s best not to remove the old upholstery.
1) The old materials add to the padding
2) It will take you hours to remove all the nails and staples you’ll find.
But you’ll need to cut away the edge of the old seat pad covers so that the newly covered seat pads will fit properly.
Seat pad ready to recoverTIP: Make sure you mark your different seat pads so you know which chair they fit. It’s not unusual to discover they’re all a slightly different size and shape.

Step 3 – templates and cutting

Template for seat pad battingMake templates from newspaper for the batting pads and the new fabric. Cut as many of these as you need. It’s important to pin the paper templates to the fabrics before you cut them.

Step 4 – positioning

Batting for seat pad in positionTaking your cut-back and cleaned up seat pad, first position the batting on top, then holding it firmly, put it on top of your new fabric – right side down.
You work this way because all the work you’ll do is on the back of the seat pad and you need to be able to stretch your new fabric evenly across the pad.

Step 5 – stapling

Stapling the seat pad fabricNow all you do is carefully attach the fabric to the seat pad. First attach all four corners with the staple gun. If you’ve not used one before they are incredibly efficient – all you do is press down and pull the trigger handle. It’s a bit noisy, but makes you feel this is a serious piece of house repair!
Once all the corners are in position and everything’s secure, now you can get on and carefully staple all the edges of the fabric in place on the seat pad.
Finished stapled seat padThere’s no need to finish the edges as once these are back in position in the chairs, you won’t see them and there’s no movement so fraying is not an issue.

Step 6 – admire your ‘new’ chairs

Recovered dining chair seat pad - closeIt’s amazing: in just a few hours you can have what looks like a whole new set of dining chairs. And in my case I think I spent about £20.
I can’t tell you how proud I am and how good it makes me feel when friends ask if I’ve bought new chairs.
Buying the stuff you need
Top tip is to raid the remnant boxes from your local curtain and upholstery shops or places like John Lewis. Seat pads require so little fabric – you’re bound to get a bargain find.


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