How To Reupholster Your Stools The Easy Way!

Do you realize how much money you can save if you reupholster your furniture, giving it new life?

Within the past three years, we’ve moved, built a new home, got married, and went on a honeymoon in Ireland. Despite having our wedding and reception a few months apart, both hosted at our home – which was a HUGE money saver – we still look for easy ways to save money.

These are our hideously ugly, way-too-much-brown stools. They have good bones, as they say. But with a destructive teenager and an accident prone 6-year-old in the house, not getting new bar stools has more to do with preservation than it does money.

Ugly brown bar stools we reupholstered ourselves

We just know they’ll continue to see advanced wear-and-tear until the kids move out. So, we decided instead to clean them up and try to reupholster them!

After we reupholstered our old bar stools, the difference is amazing!

Normally, I like to save the “after” picture until the end of the post. But you guys, these stools are SO AMAZING! The fabric I chose is a very sturdy upholstery fabric that I found on sale. I also picked up foam because the old cushions of the stools had permanent butt indents and weren’t comfortable after 7+ years of use.

I may eventually decide to paint them or stain them but for now, I decided just to reupholster them.

Remove all the staples and old fabric before you reupholster your chairs

The photos of our process aren’t great as we worked on them late at night, but they should give you a general idea of the process. First, figure out the way to remove the seat from your stools. At first, I was taking most of the frame apart, but hubby found a way to remove just the seats after the first chair was reupholstered. 

Once the seats are removed, we used a flat-head screwdriver and needle-nose pliers to remove the staples that secure the old fabric.

We cut 1" upholstery foam for each of the seats

Make sure that when you choose your fabric, you choose something that is sturdy, not too stylish or dated, and has a high thread count and tight weave.

Once the bare plywood that gave the seats their structure was bare, we started to restructure them. First, we used the plywood as a template for the upholstery foam for the seat. I recommend using a 1″ or 2″ medium or high density foam; we used 1″ thick upholstery foam. We also cut batting in the same shape.

Cutting batting and upholstery foam for the reupholstered stools

While it doesn’t matter if the edges of the chair batting are evenly cut, it will matter how evenly you cut the foam. If the edges of the foam aren’t even, it will show on the edges of your chair.

Layers of the reupholstered chair

You can see the layers of the foam and batting above. To the board, we actually repurposed one of the old foam layer that was on the plywood. We did this so that the edges of the plywood would be smoother. Then, We placed the upholstery foam on top of that, then the batting, then the fabric.

Once each of the layers were centered on the seat, we wrapped the fabric around the largest part of the seat and stapled it to the board. There’s no need to pull the fabric because at this stage, you’re just tacking the fabric in place.

Gathering the corners of the fabric when you reupholster a stool

As we worked around the seat, we would pull the fabric tight, stapling with a heavy duty staple gun and 1/2″ staples as we went. 


There is no such thing as over-stapling, and you want to make sure you pull the fabric tight, but no so tight that it rips or stretches.

Going around the seat, pulling the upholstery fabric, and stapling in place.

Once the fabric was secured, we used the old fabric that covered the bottom of the chair and just stapled that in place, as well. 

That’s it! It really comes down to some time, a ton of staples, a few tools, and well-chosen fabric.

Looking at the stools side by side, there's a huge difference in the reupholstery

Just to be safe, before the kids use them, we’ll be hitting them with several (thousand?) layers of Scotchguard. 

What do you think of our stool makeover?

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