Advice and Steps for Doing a Chair Makeover

Advice and steps for doing a chair makeover.

Hi friends, today I have some tips and general advice for doing a chair makeover all on your own.  The typical chair makeover can be done in less than a day and without a lot of headache.  Read the guidelines below and you’ll have pretty much all the information you need to redo a chair, bench, or other basic type of seating.  At the very end of this post are links to all the chair makeovers I’ve done so far – I hope they leave you feeling creatively inspired!  😉

1.  First, make sure your chair is sturdy.  Especially if you’re buying a secondhand chair – often if it’s wobbly, it’s probably not worth your time to try and fix it.  There might be structural damage (like a small crack in one of the legs), and typically there’s always a good supply of chairs to pick from anyway.  Unless you don’t mind taking it to a furniture repair shop, just move on to a different one.

2.  After you’ve picked your chair – what type is it?  Wood, metal, and is there a cushion?  If there’s a cushion, does the padding need to be replaced?  Purchase your supplies depending on the type of chair.  For me, the easiest option for a metal chair is spray painting it.  For a wooden chair, I always paint it with a brush.  Usually I don’t replace the padding unless it’s thinned out and the seat is uncomfortable, or if there is obvious damage to it.

Tips on choosing the right chair to make over.

3.  Supplies:

  • Paint – Spray, latex, Chalk Paint®, or other (I do not recommend buying a generic brand of spray paint, as they usually have poor coverage.  I really like the Rustoleum brand.)
  • Protectant – Spray paint needs a protectant like Rustoleum’s Crystal Clear Enamel.  For latex or Chalk Paint® you can use clear wax or polyurethane.  I typically use Annie Sloan’s wax because I have plenty on hand and it’s just what I prefer.
  • Padding – If needed.  There are different thicknesses available inexpensively at any craft store.
  • Fabric – If the seat is cushioned and you want to recover it.  I tend to buy thicker fabrics with a print on them.  I stay away from white or very light colors as they’ll be harder to keep clean.  A normal-sized seat will need less than 1 yard, but I usually buy 1 yard.  I’d rather have extra than not enough.
  • Staple Gun – If you’re recovering the seat.  It doesn’t have to be a heavy duty one; mine is a simple version I bought from Hobby Lobby and if the staples don’t go in all the way I just lightly hammer them in.
  • Sandpaper – If you’re a messy painter (like I am), you might need to sand out some bumps after the first coat of paint.

Supplies for a chair makeover.

4.  Once you have your supplies, clean the chair.  I use a lightly damp cloth, and if there’s a seat that I’m just going to recover I’ll spray it with Febreeze and let it sit for awhile.  Any cleaning chemicals on the metal or wood could affect how your paint adheres to the chair.  After cleaning, remove the seat by unscrewing it.

5.  Paint!  Follow the instructions on the can, whether you’re spray painting outside or using a brush in your garage.  Wait for it to dry and give it a total of 2-3 coats as needed.  (Sand between coats if you have bumps or little drips.)  Then follow up by protecting it with 1-2 coatings of whichever protectant you’ve chosen from the supply list.

6.  Remove and replace the padding if you’ve chosen to.  You will probably need to trim it down to the right size.

Chair Makeover: Recovering the seat.

7.  Recover the seat, being careful to center the pattern how you like it on the upper side.  Lay the fabric and seat face-down and cut the fabric with a few extra inches on each side.  Then fold the sides up and staple them onto the bottom of the seat.  (Remember you can hammer the staples if they don’t go all the way in.)  Pull tightly on each side.  Pay extra attention to the corners – you will need to make 1 or several small vertical folds to accommodate excess fabric.

8.  Once you’ve completed all the above steps and the protectant has dried (according to the can’s directions), reattach the seat onto the chair.

9.  Celebrate your accomplishment by giving yourself a well-deserved rest on your newly made over chair!

For specific details on these chair makeovers, click the titles below the collage.

Chair and Bench Makeovers -

1.  Vintage Lyre Chair

2.  Colorful Bird Chair

3.  French Chair Makeover

4.  Berry Blush Chair

5.  Distressed Headboard Bench

6.  French Bench

7.  Painted and Recovered Folding Chairs

8.  Bonjour Blue Chair


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11 Comments on Advice and Steps for Doing a Chair Makeover

  1. carol jane
    April 4, 2014 at 4:44 pm (5 years ago)

    Love ASCP. But did you know, Home Depot now carries Americana Decor chalk paint? I just bought some todyt and cant wait to try it!!!

    • Jen
      April 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm (5 years ago)

      I think I read that somewhere, but I haven’t tried it yet. I’m interested to know how well it works!

  2. carol jane
    April 4, 2014 at 4:45 pm (5 years ago)

    oops. I mean today.

  3. Wanda
    April 4, 2014 at 6:32 pm (5 years ago)

    Jen, you are doing such a good job with the furniture makeovers. Proud of you!

  4. Crystal
    April 5, 2014 at 9:35 pm (5 years ago)

    Thanks for the great tutorial! Love your chair redox!!


6Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Advice and Steps for Doing a Chair Makeover

  1. […] Check out all my tips HERE for doing any chair makeover by yourself. […]

  2. […] I gave it one of my favorite Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® colors – Old Ochre, did some light distressing, and applied a coat of clear wax.  Then I found the perfect vintage-looking fabric at Hobby Lobby and recovered the seat.  (Click HERE for all of my step-by-step tips for doing a chair makeover.) […]

  3. […] The directions are almost too easy – first, cut your burlap so that there’s about 3-4 inches longer than the cork board on each side.  (Iron if needed.)  Fold the edges over the board and staple on the backside with a staple/upholstery gun (I got mine from Hobby Lobby a long time ago- it’s inexpensive and necessary for upholstery projects).  Read more about upholstering HERE. […]

  4. […] This is one of those projects that ends up taking much longer that you think it will.  A typical chair makeover will take a day or less to complete – a couple coats of paint, new fabric, and a protectant and you’re usually good to go.  (You can read my in-depth guide to doing a chair makeover HERE.) […]

  5. […] Great advice from Girl In the Garage! […]

  6. […] (You can read my in-depth tutorial HERE for how to do almost any kind of chair makeover.) […]

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