After two or three years of daily use, the foam padding on a typical office chair can begin to degrade. The foam tends to flatten and lose its shape and resiliency, and any comfort it might have once provided becomes a distant memory. When this happens, it’s time for a change.
But rather than waste money replacing the entire chair, a more economical approach would be to replace only the foam padding and fabric. This is a relatively easy DIY project that can be done in about an hour, even if you don’t consider yourself a “handy” or “crafty” kind of person. All you need are a few tools and materials, and the following basic outline on how to reupholster an office chair.
- Enough seat cushion foam in the desired thickness to cover the seat and backrest of chair
- Fiberfill wrap for additional cushioning
- Fabric cover for seat cushion
- Foam adhesive
- Sharpie or permanent marker
- Electric kitchen knife (or equivalent) for cutting foam
- Staple gun and staples (or a hammer and carpet tacks)
- A screwdriver, allen wrench, pliers, or other tools for disassembling/reassembling chair
- Disassemble the chair. Flip the chair upside down so you can see how the seat area and backrest are connected to the frame. Use the screwdriver, allen wrench, or other appropriate tool to remove the seat and backrest, and then separate the foam cushion from the plastic backing on both of those parts.
- Remove the old fabric and foam from the wooden supports. These are most likely held in place by staples, glue, or a combination of the two. Use the screwdriver to pry up all the staples prior to removing them with pliers. Glued fabric and foam can be stripped from the wood by hand.
- Trace and cut the new foam and fiberfill wrap for the seat and backrest. Place the wood supports on top of the new foam sheet, and trace the shape of each piece with the permanent marker. Use the electric knife to cut out the foam shapes. Note: perfection is not required here. Next, cut the fiberfill wrap to fit over the new foam cushions. Be sure the fiberfill extends approximately two inches past the foam all around the perimeter so it can be folded over.
- Arrange the foam cushion and fiberfill wrap squarely on the wooden supports, and then cover with the fabric (again leaving extra length all around for folding). Staple the fabric into place with the staple gun, ensuring that the fit is nice and tight across the entire cushion. Do this for both the seat area and the backrest.
- Reassemble the chair. Refer back to Step 1, and simply perform those operations in reverse order.
Now enjoy your freshly reupholstered office chair!