How to do the Impossible with Wood Dining Room Chairs

Do you have an ugly wood dining room table?  One that was a bargain at a garage sale or a family hand me down?  Or do you have one that you like but don’t love?  Do you spend countless hours scrolling through Pinterest to find the perfect dining room table?  And then, you see it, you stop scrolling and you daydream of how that table would look in your dining room.  



This post contains affiliate links.  Click here to see my full disclosure policy.  

I envisioned my table having a few upholstery chairs and I needed to find a way to tone down all the wood that was in the dining room.  

I kept telling myself that I could upholster 2 of the existing wood chairs and paint the rest.  The painting was the easy part, the upholstery, not so much.  I went back and forth on my decision to upholster wood dining chairs, because what if I failed.  

I saw these chairs from World Market and decided, I will buy these and forget about the whole upholstery thing. I purchased them, brought them home, put them together and they sat looking so pretty in my dining room.  Now, I had the dilemma of having 10 dining room chairs because my table had 8 and now I just added 2 more.  What was I thinking?

Guess what happened, I changed my mind and decided I did not need the extra chairs and I would use what I have.  Look at it, I did it, they turned out pretty good for my first attempt!  Now let’s show you how I did it!  


Step 1

Make a cardboard template for the chair back.  Place that template on 1/8 inch hardboard and use a jigsaw to cut out the shape.  My chair backs had a curve to them so I needed the thinner hardboard so it would curve with the chair.  If you have a straight back chair, use a thicker hardwood for the back.  If you are lucky enough to have a solid back chair, omit this step.  

 Step 2

Cut out the foam.  Place the hardboard back and chair seat on foam and trace. Cut the foam shapes using an electric knife. 

Step 3


Attach the hardboard to the back of the chair using the appropriately sized screws for the thickness of your wood and chair.  

Step 4

Using spray adhesive, attached foam to hardboard on the chair back.

Step 5

Layout the marks for tufting.  Remeber I said my chair back was curved, so I needed to tuft the chair in order to keep the fabric flat against the chair back.  If you have a flat back chair you can omit the tufting.  

The easiest way to layout the tufting marks was to find the center horizontally and vertically.  I measured and marked the tufting spots from the center lines.  I thought my chairs would look best with 5 rows.  Your chair may be a different size so you will need to determine your measurements on your chair.   Using scissors, cut an “X” over each tufting mark.  The x is done so you can feel where to place your screw when tufting since you place batting and fabric over your marks.  Place batting over the foam.  

Step 6

Begin the tufting process.  I use these 3/4 inch washers and 1-inch wood screws to do my tufting.  Yes, you heard that right, washers and screws to do tufting!  If you would like the more detailed instructions on this tufting process, stop over to read my DIY tufted coffee table bench.   I have the complete instructions for that post.  


Since I did not have a solid back, I had to add a few wood pieces to the middle tufting row so those screws were secure.  All but 3 screws went directly into the chair wood, so there is no going back now!  

Step 7

Staple front upholstery to the back of the chair.  Please refer to my other post on how to carefully adjust the tufting on the front before securing the back.  This is an important step. 

Step 8

Place back fabric on top of the chair and place a thin cardboard strip on top of the fabric.  Staple the cardboard and fabric in place.  The cardboard creates a clean edge when flipping over.  

I made my own cardboard strip or you can purchase upholstery tack strip.  

Step 9

Staple flex-grip on to sides of chairs.  The direction of the flex-grip is important, it needs to be placed on the open side facing out to the edges.  See the picture above, because I placed it incorrectly the first time and had to remove it and do it again.  Learn from my mistakes.

Step 10  

Place batting on the back, pull down fabric and begin to secure the back fabric in flex grip.  

Before closing the flex grip, trim off excess fabric and tuck into the flex-grip.    

Tip:  I used an envelope opener to tuck the fabric into the flex grip before and after trimming the extra fabric.

Gently tap the flex-grip closed.


Step 11

Finish bottom edge.  I folded the fabric under itself to make a clean edge around the chair back.


Staple the fabric to the underside chairback. 

Step 12

Using a button cover kit, make buttons and glue over the washers using E6000.  Again, click here for detailed tufting instructions.  The benefit to gluing on the buttons covers, if one pops off, you just glue it back in place.  With traditional tufting, if a button comes off, the tufting broke and that is not as easy as gluing on a button cover.  


Would I do it again?  Yes, if I already had the chairs.  It was a difficult process, so I would recommend tufting a bench first. 

I am so pleased with how they turned out, they are not perfect and that is ok, they are perfect for me!  

Have you taken on a DIY project like this? 



Join the DD Community!

Socialmediabutton 200x200

Join the Designed Decor Community and receive weekly free tips on DIY home projects, painted furniture, decorating, and much more.

Gain Free Access to the DD Community! Powered by ConvertKit

Please Donate by Bitcoin 1GFnpLABsedzHnZXFjaxW1eZbmmnxJq9Pi