How to Reupholster Recliner Chair in 10 Easy Steps

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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The recliner seat is one we get used to and one that quickly becomes a sentimental part of our homes. However, once they get old, throwing them away is not an option. In such instances, we invoke our creative side to reupholster the recliner. I have reupholstered my recliner twice, and I will share the secrets.

With the right steps, you can convert a worn-out seat into a professional carpenter-level chair in just a few hours. Here is how to reupholster a recliner.

(Step By Step) How to Reupholster a Recliner

What you will need;

Step 1: Get Ideas

Get Ideas

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If you want to upholster a recliner, the first thing is to get inspiration from different sources. if you have no ideas what you want, you can look for an interior designer to help you match the colors of the recliner to your house.

Step 2: Buy Tools/ Hire a Professional

You should have all the tools you need at hand before you get the project started. Otherwise, you may hit a snag simply because you are missing one vital thing.

If you are hiring someone to help, you get the job done, get a quote from them and know what to expect.

Step 3: Disassemble the Recliner

disassemble the Recliner

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There are recliners that you need to disassemble to remove the fabric if there are different moving parts on the recliner that can come off. Remember to label and keep the screws in a central place.

If you can get rid of the fabric without having to disassemble the recliner, then you can move on to the next step.

Step 4: Remove Old Fabric

 Remove Old Fabric

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Use a staple remover to get rid of the staples to loosen the fabric. You can use a screwdriver or anything that can go underneath the staples. In a case where the fabric is seamed, use a seam reaper to remove the strings of the furniture.

If you plan to reupholster the new fabric over the old to cover up the recliner, you can skip this step.

Step 5: Get rid of old batting

Get rid of old batting

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If the foam batting on the recliner is not in great shape, you can pull it out and replace it with a newer and more comfortable batting. If the batting is still spongy, there is no need to get rid of it.

Step 6: Measure the Fabric for Your Seat

Once you have gotten your favorite fabric from the fabric store, it is time to cut it up in size. While there are methods that suggest you take the recliner measurements, the best method is to lay the fabric over the old fabric and just copy the dimensions.

 Measure the Fabric for Your Seat

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When cutting the fabric, you have to be careful to cut the right side up. Remember to leave the extra fabric on all sides by around two inches just to be sure it will have the right fit over the arm covers and chair seat.

Step 7: Sew the Cording

sew the Cording

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If you want to add cording to your cushion, it is time to sew it up. Once you are sewing up the cushion cording, attach it to the fabric at the point where the edges of the cushion will be. There are different points where you can have the cording, including the arm edges, the back of the seat, and any surface you deem fit.

Cording is one reason why your purchased fabric should be larger than the estimated size you are going to use on the recliner.

Step 7: Glue/Staple Fabric Down

Next, you need to staple the fabric onto the recliner. Pull the fabric for a snug fit. Tuck any excess fabric into the seat and use them for the extra pull. There are recliners whose frames are not wooden. In such cases, using fabric glue is your best move.

Glue/Staple Fabric Down

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If you are upholstering over the same fabric the recliner had before, you do not have to worry about fitting in the batting. Otherwise, you have to fit in the new batting before stapling the fabric.

Step 8: Reassemble the Recliner

Reassemble the Recliner

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If you have disassembled the recliner to reupholster the parts independently, it is time to reassemble it and enjoy using it.

Step 10: Clear Your Workstation

Once you have reassembled the recliner, it is time to keep the material that you will not be using and put the tools back in their right places. A complete recliner is only comfortable if the parts are working. Test if the recliner has been reassembled properly. Taking pictures of the old recliner vs. the new one is a great way to document your project.

Factors to consider before reupholstering your recliner

Factors to consider before reupholstering your recliner

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a) Damage Level

The damage level of a recliner will determine how much fabric, time, and money you will spend on an old recliner. Some recliners need just a fabric change, while others require extensive repair. For instance, if the reclining mechanism is damaged, there is no need to reupholster the recliner before repairing it.

b) Fabric

Reupholstering means changing the fabric covering, meaning the type of fabric you will use becomes one of the most important considerations for the project. Here are some upholstery fabric options to choose from;

  • Velvet
  • Corduroy
  • Tartan
  • Tweed
  • Plush
  • Chenille
  • Velour
  • Ticking
  • Damask
  • Matelasse
  • Leather

c) Professional vs Self-Reupholstering Project

When reupholstering a recliner, you might do the project alone or get a professional. This might depend on your availability, how much you have for the project, how many repairs the chair needs, and how soon you want the project done.

Some reasons you may want to go for a professional include a lack of tools, where buying tools might be costlier than hiring a professional. However, if you have DIY tools, most of them should get the job done.

Another reason you might need a professional is when you are working with leather. Leather upholstery requires expertise that takes time and patience to master.

the advantage of doing the project alone is that you can take however long you want with the project, as opposed to working with professionals who get paid per hour.

d) Price

The money you have set aside for the project will determine the materials you use, whether you are getting a professional or how soon you can complete the project.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Reupholster a Recliner

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Reupholster a Recliner

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i) Can a recliner chair be reupholstered?

Yes. Reupholstering a recliner chair is possible. However, in some cases, you may need to disassemble some parts, reupholster them, then reassemble them. The parts that can disassemble include the back, footrest, seat base, and arms.

ii) What is the best fabric to reupholster a recliner?

Leather is the best option when reupholstering your couch. When you change to leather for fabric, the same chair will be more comfortable, durable, and stylish.

iii) Can you reupholster over existing fabric?

It is possible to reupholster old fabric without removing anything from the frame. You only have to ensure that the new fabric is darker than the old one so it is not see-through. If there are any seat tufting holes, you can fill them with sawdust before covering the surface with new fabric.

iv) Can you change the fabric on a recliner?

You can change the fabric on a lazy boy recliner by cutting through seams holding the fabric together. Furthermore, you can disassemble the recliner and remove the fabric.

v) How much do I need to reupholster a recliner chair?

A budget of between $400 and $1500 will get your recliner upholstered. The cost might be higher when engaging a professional to help with the reupholstering.

Final Thoughts

Reupholstering a recliner is a great idea when remodeling your living room and is a fun project. Reupholstering further protects your recliner from damage and gives it a fresh look and style. If you have a recliner that you are about to put up for sale in a shop, now is a good time to reupholster it. There are many reasons why you would reupholster your recliner. The secret is to do it right.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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