The other day, I picked up a chair that a neighbor of ours left in the street and I’m determined to refinish it. To keep me in check, I found these step-by-step instructions, which I’m posting here so I can have a reference point. Now it’s off to buy the paint and the fabric and the sand paper and get to work!
How to do it:
1. In your workshop (or dining room, in our case), flip your ugly chair over and remove the four screws holding the seat on. The seat will now lift off. Set it aside.
2. Sand the whole chair to rough up the finish a bit so the paint will stick. Smooth off any scratches or weirdness. Wipe the dust off with a cloth.
3. With a brush, apply a coat of general-purpose latex primer. Don’t worry that your chair looks hideous after this step. Then put on as many coats of latex paint as you need for an even finish. I put on three over the course of two days. This is a pain.
4. To recover the seat, flip it over and remove the staples or tacks that hold the fabric on. Don’t be grossed out by the condition of the foam cushion under there. If it’s icky, just go buy new seat foam at a fabric store. A piece of new seat padding is available for a couple bucks and comes wrapped in plastic and perfectly sized. I was astonished. It turns out most seats are a standard size. The foam piece is perfectly rectangular, so just trace your wooden seat bottom onto it with a pen and cut off the wedges with a scissors to form a trapezoid that fits your seat.
5. Stack the foam and wood bottom onto a piece of fabric and use it as a template to cut a new seat cover, leaving enough margin to be able to fold your fabric around to the underside of the seat. When positioning your seat on the fabric, pay attention to the pattern in your fabric so your seat will align nicely with the repeats.
6. Use a staple gun to tack the new fabric cover snugly onto the seat.
7. Screw the chair bottom back onto the chair, and you’re done.