How to Reupholster Vinyl Chairs

One way to jazz up a set of vinyl chairs in need of a little TLC, such as a retro dinette set, is reupholstering them. Upholstering with vinyl is much the same as upholstering with other fabrics. Vinyl is usually a little thicker, which means you'll have to take extra care when stapling corners. Upholstery supply shops sell vinyl in modern color schemes and in styles more popular in other eras. That's ideal for working with vintage or retro furniture.

Retro 50' || chr(39) || 's formica and chrome dinette set with green vinyl chairs.
credit: Ron Chapple Stock/Ron Chapple Studios/Getty Images
A staple gun is an essential tool for reupholstering vinyl chairs.

Step 1

Flip the chair upside down to determine how the seat is held in place. Remove the seat from the frame by removing the screws or bolts holding it on, using a screwdriver or an adjustable wrench. In some cases, the seat may simply pop out by pushing it from the bottom.

Step 2

Remove any other vinyl-covered areas from the chair using the appropriate tool, as in Step 1.

Step 3

Remove the staples holding the vinyl onto the seat or seat back, using a staple remover. Pull the old vinyl and batting off the chair, keeping the vinyl intact to use as a template.

Step 4

Place the new vinyl face down on a clean work surface. Flatten and smooth the old vinyl over the new. Trace the old vinyl shape onto the back of the new vinyl with a marker. Set the old vinyl aside. Cut out the new vinyl along the traced lines using scissors.

Step 5

Smooth a piece of batting onto the work surface. Set the new vinyl atop the batting, then cut the batting to the same size as the material, using scissors.

Step 6

Flip the batting and vinyl so the vinyl is face down on the work surface with the batting atop it, lined up evenly.

Step 7

Place the chair seat upside down atop the batting. The old foam, if the chair seat contains foam, will touch the batting.

Step 8

Wrap one side of the batting and vinyl over its respective edge of the chair. Staple it in place every 2 inches or so. Repeat the process with the vinyl and batting on the opposite side of the chair.

Step 9

Grab the batting and vinyl together on one of the remaining two sides of the seat, wrapping them over the bottom of the seat and stapling them in place. Repeat the process with the remaining side, pulling the batting and vinyl as tightly as possible before stapling. Staple it in place every 2 inches or so.

Step 10

Fold and tuck the batting and vinyl along one corner, as if you're wrapping a package, and staple the materials to the bottom of the seat. Use at least four or five staples, as it may be difficult to keep the thick vinyl in place with just one or two staples. Repeat the process with the remaining seat corners.

Step 11

Trim any excess vinyl or batting sticking out along the bottom of the chair seat using scissors.

Step 12

Reassemble the chair, securing the screws or nuts and bolts that serve to hold the upholstered parts to the frame.


Kathy Adams

Kathy Adams

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.