Introduction: How to Re-upholster Chairs Using a Staple Gun

This is a quick and easy how-to if you are interested in re-covering chairs. It's a fun way to refresh or update old furniture, and doesn't take much time at all! In this tutorial I will be using a chair from the dining room collection, but feel free to follow along with any chair that you have - the steps apply to almost any piece of furniture. 

Step 1: Supplies

First, you'll need to gather supplies. The supplies you'll need for this process are:
-Staple gun
-Staples (check the size of the staple and compare to the staple gun)
-Fabric (enough to cover the surface + 2 additional inches on every side)
-Hammer or flathead screwdriver
-Wooden worksurface

Step 2: How to Use the Staple Gun

If you are unsure how to use the staple gun, please reference this video:

Step 3: Strip Old Fabric

Getting started, remove the piece you intend to recover from the chair. This may require tools if you have a different style chair, but most are easily removed with a simple screwdriver. This particular chair seen in the picture does not require tools, the pieces snap into place on the seat and back into a wooden frame.

If there is an existing fabric, you can choose to cover over it or remove it, I would suggest removing any old fabric to avoid excessive stapling. Begin by using your hammer to pull up old staples, they should come up easily but you can also use pliers if you have trouble with this step. 

When it is all done, your surface should look like the picture in the bottom right corner, completely clean and ready for new staples. 

Step 4: Preparing Fabric and Surface

When you are finished removing all old material, your surface should just be the seat pad and backing material. 
Start by layout out your selected fabric, and making sure you have enough to cover the front of your intended surface, and still have a two-inch border on every side, allowing for space to staple on the opposite side. 
If your fabric sample is too large, cut it down to the appropriate size. Excess fabric can be bulky, bunch up around the corners, and is unnecessary. 
Because I am re-covering a dining room chair, I selected a fabric with a crypton backing. These are used to prevent penetration of food and drink, and are easily cleaned. You can select the fabric that is best for your situation. 

Step 5: Begin to Staple

Pull the fabric tight on the long side to begin, and be aware of fabric slipping as you pull. It is good to put pressure on the surface of the chair part with your wrist as you pull with your fingers. 
Once fabric is secured, use the staple gun (as shown in the video) and place a few staples all along the first side. Remember to add pressure so these staples attach fully and do not bounce back up.

Step 6: Removing Accidents

As you can see here, I had a staple that did not get pushed in all the way, and therefore is not doing its job to secure the fabric. This happens when not enough pressure is applied to the tip of the staple gun.
There are two options when faced with this problem:
- Using the other end of the hammer, pull the staple out and discard of it. 
- Using the hammer head, hit the staple further down into the backing. 

This all depends on how deep down the staple is, so use your judgement in the situation if it happens to you. 

Step 7: Stapling Additional Sides

After the first side is completely secured, flip the surface and pull fabric tight from the directly opposing side. This is a difficult step, because you want to ensure that the fabric is not loose on any part of the piece. Push down vertically on the surface itself, and pull fabric with your fingers. 
After the first two sides are complete, repeat the same process with the secondary sides, pulling just as tightly on each of them. 
When this is complete, you may lift the piece up to examine your work, if there are any mistakes or the fabric is not pulled as tight as you need it to be, this is the time to fix it. Remove staples and repeat the previous steps (steps 4-6).
If you are pleased with the results, your surface should look something like the lower picture, with the corners unattached. We will cover that in the next steps. 

Step 8: Corner Detail

To properly pull the corner together, you need to pinch it at the spine, and fold over. I compare this step to making a bed, folding the sheet at the end of the bed and tucking it under the mattress. Depending on how much of an excess you still have on your fabric, the visual may differ from that seen here. The point is to gather all parts that are loose and fold them onto one another. 

Step 9: Cutting Corners

Like my example, you will most likely have at least a little excess fabric on the corner detail. If left, it becomes a hassle to fold and staple, not to mention bulky when you go to re-attach the piece to the chair. 
Take the scissors and slice off the appropriate amount, and then begin to fold and staple. The end result should look similar to the bottom picture seen here. 
As you can also see, there is still a great deal of fabric that is unattached - but we'll get to that. 

Step 10: Final Touch-ups

Continue on to do all four corners, like it is shown in steps 7&8. 
You will need to add additional staples to each "bubble" the fabric makes, concentrating mainly on the corners. Sometimes extra pressure is required before you can staple all the way through two or three layer of fabric, so be prepared to put some muscle into it!
When you feel the fabric is secured on all sides and corners, flip the piece over again and Voila! Your new upholstered furniture looks marvelous! 

Step 11: Final Product

Place/re-attach the seat or back pad to the existing chair frame. It looks like a brand new chair!
These pictures are what the chair(s) will look like when it is all finished. I have done this to all the chairs in my apartment, as you can see, using fabric scraps from work, old clothing, or fabric purchased from a fabric store. Anything will work, and it is a fun way to personalize and give your home the fun and unique look, even if you're on a budget (like me!)

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and that it helps you on your way to updating your space.