How to Reupholster a Recliner Chair

Item # X-HT-200680

Recliners are popular seating options for family rooms because they are comfortable and casual. There is something so relaxing about putting your feet up in a soft, reclining chair. But you don't have to trade style to get that feet-up comfort in your own home. If you have an old recliner that doesn’t fit your décor anymore, why not cover it in new fabric? We made a step-by-step video that will walk you through every detail so you can DIY reupholster your own recliner.

Newly reupholstery La-Z-Boy Recliner Chair.

The recliner we’re recovering in the video was in really great shape but the fabric wasn’t working in the owner’s new home. A quick way to tell if a recliner is worth working on is to check the stability of the arms—are they loose or shaky? If they are only a little loose, you can tighten them, but if they are very wobbly, the chair may be beyond saving. Also make sure the reclining mechanism is still in good working order.

When selecting a new fabric for your recliner, think about the pattern. We don’t recommend choosing a very linear pattern, like stripes or plaid, because of the chair’s many moving parts. It can be hard to line the pattern up along the chair and as you use your recliner the pieces might shift and make the piece look sloppy. We chose a large-scale paisley, P/Kaufmann Paisley Park Lagoon (#106580), because the paisley print won’t have to perfectly align.

Reupholstering a recliner is a little different from other armchairs because it will actually disassemble into smaller parts. You can remove the back from the frame and then the seat deck and footrest. Each piece is reupholstered and then reassembled.

In the video, you’ll learn how to disassemble the chair and remove the old fabric, how to sew and install piping, arm covers, the seat deck, and the attached back cushion.

You’ll notice in the video that we didn’t cover how to sew the box cushion for the seat. We have a separate video just for the seat cushion: "How to Re-Cover a Cushion on a Recliner" (#200679XHT). Be sure to watch that installment to complete your project!

Video Chapters:

  • Disassembling the Chair - 0:33 min.
  • Removing Old Upholstered Fabric:
    • Arms - 4:04 min.
    • Seat Deck - 6:41 min.
    • Back Rest - 10:55 min.
  • Patterning Arm Covers - 15:22 min.
  • Making Piping - 22:59 min.
  • Sewing Arm Covers - 28:27 min.
  • Installing Arm Covers - 39:41 min.
  • Patterning, Sewing & Covering Deck - 58:07 min.
  • Re-Installing Deck to Frame - 1:19:23 min.
  • Patterning & Sewing Inside Back:
    • Top Plate & Facings - 1:21:22 min.
    • Second Facing Strips - 1:33:45 min.
    • Third Facing Strips - 1:40:26 min.
    • Inside Plate - 2:03:49 min.
  • Inserting Foam - 2:07:17 min.
  • Securing Back Cushion on Back Frame - 2:10:18 min.
  • Patterning & Sewing Outside Back - 2:16:24 min.
  • Securing Outside Back - 2:22:03 min.
  • Assembling Back to Frame - 2:20:32 min.
  • Materials List - 2:32:02 min.

Materials List:

  • Upholstery Fabric (we used P/Kaufmann Paisley Park Lagoon #106580)
  • Nylon Thread (we used a Tex 70 UV Nylon)
  • Foam Piping Cord 5/32" #1055
  • White Polyester Batting #100158
  • 27" Upholstery Tack Strip #106422
  • 1/2" Cardboard Upholstery Tack Strip #106420*
  • 1" White Elastic #22202
  • Black Cambric Dust Cover Fabric #106739
  • Polyester Fiberfill #104467
  • 5-ply Waxed Twine #29206*
  • Fabric Backed Sew Foam #124306 (if needed)
  • Marking Chalk for Fabrics #102464* (optional)

Tools List:

  • Tack & Staple Remover #104319*
  • Rawhide Upholstery Mallet #106423*
  • Gingher® 8" Scissors Right Handed #19104*
  • Sailrite® Short Nose Upholstery Staple Gun #121410
  • Multiuse Pins 1-1/2" (250 Pins) #102985*
  • Clear Acrylic Ruler 6" x 24" #102400*
  • Cutting Mat 18" x 24" #102990*
  • Comfort Grip Rotary Cutter 60mm #9655*
  • 3M™ Super 77 Spray Adhesive 16.75oz #636
  • Assorted Curved Hand Sewing Needles #100100*
  • Markwell MPL4 Industrial Stapling Plier Stapler #103285
  • Torx® Bit, Wire Cutters (dual is better), Sewing Machine, Tape Measure*, Permanent Marker, Wrench

*Included in Upholstery Tool Kit #107122