Waking From My Nightmare

Finally! And I’m not even going to make you wait to see the results.

Finished chairs
Finally finished!

So, how’d I get from here to today?

Well, my nightmare of chairs did not end with the sanding. Oh no, that would have been too easy! Staining went pretty quick, but applying poly was not my favorite. After the first coat I did a light sanding with 320 grit paper, and it took off the stain! Somehow, 320 grit, which is very fine, was removing the varnish and three coats of stain. I was especially careful around the edges and sanded as lightly as possible and touched up the bare spots with stain afterward.

That happened between each coat of varnish, even when I went up to 400 grit paper, which is basically as fine as a sheet of printer paper. At that point, I decided to see if the chairs would look any different if I applied poly without sanding first, and I can’t even tell the difference. After the final coat dried, I moved on to the fun part!

The easiest part of reupholstering a chair is the seat cover. But first you have to complete what is inarguably the most mundane task of staple removal. If you’ve ever had to remove staples from a floor after removing carpeting, you know what I’m talking about.

Removing staples
Removing staples. Easy, but mundane!

It’s very easy, but so ridiculously mundane. Staples pop up easily by prying them with a screwdriver. My method was to lift them with a flathead, and then pull them with pliers. I was pleasantly surprised to see how few staples were underneath, until I removed them all and peeled back the black cloth.

Too many staples
How many staples does it really take?

Yep! There were about three times as many staples on the underside as there were on the top. Unbelievable. And yuck, why were they completely rusted? I’d really be curious to know the history of these things! I actually decided to time myself and it took about 23 minutes per chair to remove every staple from each chair (there were close to 100 in each one!).

Now to the cover! First and foremost, iron your fabric! You don’t want any creases in the fabric – they will be permanent. Use the fabric you just removed from the seat as your template. When working with a pattern rather than a solid try to align the pattern to be identical for every piece.

No need to be exact, just flatten the fabric and roughly trace.

Then take the fabric to cut out the batting

Cutting batting
This also does not need to be exact.

Some chairs may require that you replace the foam as well, but these chairs actually had layers of cotton(?) that was still firm. But I did not take the thickness of the cotton into consideration when I cut the fabric so learn from my mistake and be liberal when cutting. You can always trim it once it’s stapled, but you can’t get more!

Chair filling
The filling of the chair pads

Stapling is the easiest part! Start in the middle and pull the fabric taught, and staple. Work out to one side continually pulling taught as you go along, then the other side from the center.

Work from the center
Once you get the hang of it, it’s really quick going

Once you end at the corner, work on the opposite side. After you’ve stapled all of the sides, pull the corners, similar to gift wrapping. The trick is to pull one side completely flat, and the opposite edge over to create a seamless corner.

The final step is to reattach the pads to the chairs with the screws you removed in the beginning. Ours were gross so I replaced them with new ones.

gross screws
Seriously, what did these chairs go through?
Attach the seats
Screw the seats to the covers
Finalized chairs

I am so incredibly happy to be done with this project! Now I can move on to more exciting projects!

What do you think? Would you have chosen a solid or a pattern?



    I am totally impressed!! They turned out great. I taught you well.

    Mom | 4 years ago Reply

      Thanks mom!

      Love This Nest | 4 years ago Reply

    I am also impressed! Great job Kelly!

    Dianne | 4 years ago Reply

    What a great job you did!!! They're beautiful and I love the fabric. In this case, pattern is perfect.

    Kelly, you are so creative and it all looks great! | 4 years ago Reply

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