For today's tutorial, I decided to cover the revival and reupholster of old, old chairs. Chairs are a dime-a-dozen in the thrift store & garage sale world, but 99.9% of them are severely out of date. After all, Spring is here & we need some fresh chairs for all the guests we're about to have over, right? Right! Now as a heads up, this tutorial will be a little longer than our usual because of the steps involved. So refill that coffee cup, put the phone on silent, and get ready to give these nasty old chairs a complete 180°! Take a motivational sneak peak:
- Sturdy cushioned chairs with a wooden seat under the pad.
- Orbital sander or sand paper
- Medium to Fine sanding pads or paper
- Steel wool - Fine
- Drill or Screwdriver
- Staple gun & plenty of staples
- Fabric Scissors
- Box Cutter
- Spray Paint in your color choice
- Upholstery foam & batting (if replacing)
- Upholstery fabric in your pattern choice (I used 2.5 yards for 4 seats)
- Optional: Air compressor, paint gun, air blaster, paint pyramids, clear coat
Alright, got your chairs? Let's start! Take a look at the set I have to
Time to Prime! My favorite, this means we're really getting somewhere. I used Rustoleum 2X primer. When it comes to chairs, or things with a lot of detail, I tend to default to the spray paint. You could hand brush primer no problem, but it will take you a lot longer. 1-1.5 cans was about right for 4 chairs to get a good 2 coats of primer. Throw that mask back on and some gloves. I know it's tedious, but you'll thank me later.
Let's get past all this priming and get to the good stuff: our top coat! I chose "Navajo White" for these chairs, as it really complimented the cream in the fabric I picked out. That's another thing, I find it way easier to pick your fabric FIRST, so you can match your paint to IT vs. the other way around. But that's just me...
If you're vertically challenged like me, you may need to lay your chairs down on their back to have better access to paint the top & bottom. These inexpensive pyramids (found in the paint section) help prop the piece up, with minimal contact. The issue, is that if you lay your chair directly on the drop cloth that has all that old paint, your soft coats might grab a souvenir or two from the tabletop & add some texture to your coat. I highly, highly recommend these little triangles to save you time & stress. Enough rambling, I'd say we're done with our coats here. Let that dry, and let's start on the cushions.
I have to confess here, that I don't always pull all of them out. If they are flush and deep into the seat, I leave them. They aren't hurting anyone, and this is just the bottom side of the chair after all...
All done! Just kidding. Grab your fabric! It's time to make these seats. I only bought 2.5 yards, and it was plenty. Make sure you use upholstery fabric because it's much thicker. Regular fabric is thin, and runs the risk of tearing if someone has buttons or giant sharp gems on their pants, as is the fashion these days. You never know! You'll notice I've left the shed for the safety of the indoors. It's much, much cleaner, and therefore less risky of getting who knows what all over your beautiful fabric. I recommend doing these steps inside. OK - Here's a snapshot of my supplies:
Side note: I use fabric scissors, which essentially are just nice scissors that I labeled "fabric". The reason is so that no one else in the house uses these beauties for paper! Paper dulls the blades, and before you know it your scissors won't cut anything. This pair has lasted me eight years already (no foolin'!), and still cuts like a dream. come. true!And there we have it! Now do this for the rest of your seats and we're practically finished.
Some people "scotch guard" to help prevent stains, etc. I do not, mainly because I've never used it before, so I can't help you there. For all I know it could be miraculous, let me know if you have any tips.
Let's see, now that we've finished both the frames and the seats, all we need to do is reassemble. Here's where you have the option to seal your frames if you like. Choose a clear coat in the finish you're looking for, and be sure to follow the directions for re-coat & dry times. I've seen many a clear coat bubble up from being too hasty, and that'll set you back a few days.
Once everything is dry and has had time to fully cure (usually 24 hours minimum) we can screw the seats back in. Working backwards from dis-assembly, just put your seat upside down on the edge of a (clean) table. Then put the frame upside down on top of it, line it up & screw it in. Another way to do this is just place the pads on the seat, right side up, and have a friend sit there. Then just crawl under and put your screws in, Michelangelo style. There you have it:
I believe we can call it day! How'd you do? This project is a bit more involved than many other projects we've focused on, but the outcome is always impressive. 98% of people are scared to death of re-upholstery, so go ahead and impress them with your new found skills. After all, you've earned it - this was a long tutorial to read! One last tip, is to put a few felt pads on the bottom of your chairs. It's just so much easier. Now take some photos, you worked hard!
Thanks for tuning in for yet another session of School of Restoration, I hope you enjoyed today's topic. This was a fun tutorial to make, it was great to see these chairs get a total overhaul. I've been asked many times for advice about chairs with cushions, so this is long overdue. If you decide to re-do your chairs, send the pictures our way - we'd all love to see them!
If you missed the last few tutorials, you can find them here, here and here. And if you're wondering who in the world wrote this, my name's Jesse, from Nine Red, and all that info is right here. I'll be back next month for another how-to-torial in the School of Restoration. Until then, plant your summer veggies & enjoy the longer days. Class dismissed!