How to Reupholster an Armchair with Wooden Arms? – Step-by-Step Guide

How to reupholster an armchair with wooden arms

Last updated on April 11th, 2023 at 07:11 pm

Upholstery may seem like an intimidating project. But unknown to many is that it is an easy DIY project that can be done at home. Yes, you can transform your old seat into a new one in just a few hours. Here’s how. 

The first step is to remove the old fabric to make room for the new. Then, cut the fabric panels and then start upholstering from the chair back to the outside arms. The last step is to trim the fabric, applying gimp trim where necessary. 

This is just a preview. This article gives a step-wise procedure on how to reupholster an armchair. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Reupholstering an Armchair with Wooden Arms

How to reupholster an armchair with wooden arms

Worn-out seats can make your lounging area look unsightly. But you do not have to throw them away. Reupholstering the chair is the way to go. And you need not worry, the process is straightforward, the tools are simple, and the materials needed are inexpensive. With that, you can tackle the project to success. 

What Do You Need to Reupholster an Armchair?

When you are set on reupholstering your armchair, you will need a few basic hand tools and materials.


  • Staple remover 
  • Gimp trim 
  • Gloves 
  • Protective eyewear 
  • Wire cutters
  • Seam ripper 
  • Permanent marker 
  • Pair of scissors 
  • Pneumatic upholstery staple gun 
  • Glue gun and glue sticks 
  • Screwdriver 


  • Upholstery staples 
  • Upholstery fabric (length depending on complexity and size of chair) 
  • Quilt batting 
  • High-density foam
  • Plywood (if need be)
  • Landscape fabric (optional)

Step 1: Strip the chair

The first step is to remove the old upholstery from the chair. The staple remover comes in handy to remove the trim and staples, and then you can gently strip the chair of the fabric. Ensure you have protective gear on to prevent minor injuries.

For novice upholsterers, it is advisable to label each of the fabric pieces using a permanent marker and note how the armchair was initially assembled and where each piece goes. 

For panels that were stitched together, a seam ripper is used to separate them. The padding that restricts any access to the frame where the fabric is to be secured is also removed. Other springs, webbing, and padding stay in place.

The materials and pieces to be reused such as padding, webbing, burlap, and cardboard are set aside. Once completely stripped, you can inspect the frame, removing any staples left with a staple puller. 

Step 2: Cut the fabric panels 

The fabric panels removed from the chair are reused in this step. They are to be pinned onto the new upholstery fabric. This step should be done meticulously to ensure that you achieve an exact copy of the fabric pieces, not them mirroring each other.

Therefore, the fabric pieces should face one direction. From here, the upholstery fabric is cut to the desired size using the old fabric as a reference. Sewing of any panels should also be done in this step. 

Step 3: Upholster the chair 

Clear the panels of any pins or old upholstery before you can use it. The common procedure usually involves assembling from the inside back, to the arms and seat. Typical armchairs require you to assemble from the back side, then the inside back, arms, and seat and finish with the outside arms. 

Each of the panels is to be secured in place with one staple. Also, staple each of the sides to ensure the panel properly fits and is not pulled in different directions. The staples should be in a straight line and gimp trim is used to cover them. The staples should be spaced approximately ½” apart.   

Support the seat back with burlap, padding, and cardboard. A manual or electric staple gun should not be used for this project. These tend to be too bulky and not as powerful for the task at hand. 

Step 4: Upholster the chair back 

When it comes to upholstering the inside back, ensure that the fabric panel is spread over the back with the pattern lined up. Hold the panel in place by placing one staple on top. The fabric is then tucked through the chair frame at the back and pulled to fit tightly enough.

To prevent ending up with a crooked pattern, ensure you do not pull too tightly on one side. Once perfectly fitted, go around inserting staples ¼” apart. However, leave the bottom unstapled until the seat fabric panel is in place. 

Step 5: Seat and inside arms 

Place and spread out the seat fabric panel. Check the pattern alignment with that of the inside back and ensure they match. The fabric is then pulled through the sides and back of the chair.

Once it is in place, you can secure it by stapling. You can consult your notes on where to tuck, staple, or fold the fabric. All the pieces are then secured into the frame and the process is repeated for the inside arms. 

Step 6: Outside arms 

The padding that was removed in order to access the frame is replaced at this step. The outside arm panels are then stapled in place. The fabric remnants are then used for both the inside and outside panels. 

Step 7: Trimming 

Any excess fabric is cut off with a sharp pair of scissors. Be keen to ensure the cut is made closest to the staple line. Afterward, a line of hot glue is applied along the staples and the gimp trim is pressed onto it. Hold it in place until the glue cools.

The best way is to work in small sections, approximately 6-8 inches, so the glue does not cool too quickly. The trim is cut where the trim ends meet and the ends are then secured with hot glue. Trim is also applied to cover staples. You can now enjoy your ‘new’ chair. 


Yes, you do not have to always remove the old fabric before replacing it with the new one. You only need to ensure that the new one is of a darker shade than the original fabric.

Yes, it is possible to put new fabric on an armchair without damaging it. If the process of reupholstering is done carefully, your armchair will be as good as new. However, ensure that you do not wash the fabric before use since this removes its protective treatment. 


Reupholstering can easily turn your dull armchairs into new beautiful furniture for your house. Over time, the seat fabrics tend to wear out and do not bear the original beauty. This is usually a wake-up call to owners to do something about it. And now, you can.

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