Is there a feeling better than placing your back on a reclining chair and raising your feet on the soft foot pad?

A recliner chair finally lets you relax and escape from the world even for a few minutes. The kicker is that the comfort ends when everyone has sat on the chair for years, and the upholstering loses color. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that you will have to part with the recliner that has your invisible name printed on it. If the bones or the frame of the recliner are strong, you only need to give your chair a facelift. Reupholstering will save you money otherwise spent on buying new furniture or garage space when you feel too attached to the chair.

Reupholstering involves changing the cover, stuffing, springs, and cushions among other parts. The frame may have some parts tightened too.

Step-by-Step to Reupholstering A Recliner

1) Choose and Measure New Upholstery Fabric

You have to select the upholstery fabric first. Some of the materials you’ll encounter include cotton, vinyl, wool, acrylic, and olefin. Ensure that the new fabric matches your interior décor. Don’t forget your personality when choosing the fabric’s color, or patterns.

About the size, since you cannot know the accurate size of the fabric to fit the chair it would be wise to get extra yards.

Pro tip: take measurements of the old seat for the right estimates. You should also buy buttons, zippers, sewing supplies like tailor's chalk, pins, needle, thread, or seam rippers.

2) Take the Recliner Apart

First, take photos of the chair as a whole. Then, start taking the chair apart piece by piece. Unless the seat is full of dust, this will be a fun activity. Take photos as you proceed. That will help you when putting in the new parts. Photos may prove easier to follow in DIY projects than YouTube videos. When removing the original upholstery, make use of a seam ripper.

3) Cut Out the New Fabric

To avoid wasting the new fabric, you will want to use the older fabric. Trace the new fabric on the old fabric to out the part you need. Recliners are easier to make because, in their initial design, the fabric for arms, seat, or back is cut out separately. The tracing part is the reason why you need to tear apart the recliner with care.

4) Attaching Fabric

You can use a staple gun to attach the new fabric on the recliner. Start stapling from the center before moving to the corners. When handling fragile parts of the seat, you may want to use hot glue gun. The glue gun is ideal for cardboard pieces. Note that you should wait for the glue to dry out completely before going out to reassemble the recliner.

5) Tufting

Most recliners have a tufted look which you may want to recreate when reupholstering the seat. For the best recreation, you should get new buttons then cover them with the new fabric. Sew the buttons once you complete getting them in the new fabric.

6) Reassembly

The reassembly part is the reason you had to take photos earlier. The photos will guide you in knowing what goes where first and what follows. Remember to start reassembly only after the glue dries out. The screws should also be tight and every part of the frame snug. Then, you can get ready to put on the new fabric.

What Causes You to Reupholster Your Recliner?

  • Wear and tear

If the upholstery on your recliner’s upholstery is fading, torn, or just looks old, then it is time to spruce things up. When the frame of a seat is sturdy, a re-upholstery project will make the recliner look as good as new. Everyday use takes a huge toll on the seat and years of abrasion results in rough and worn out fabric.

  • Change in interior décor

Perhaps it’s time to change things around the house. Switch colors and maybe paint walls different colors. Since you’ll need to create harmony in the new home and buying new furniture is expensive, you will have to reupholster the recliner. You may reupholster the sofas too.

  • Outdated style

Do you know that the only thing sucking the life out of your otherwise great recliner seat bought decades ago is that it is outdated? Style fades and changes with time. That seat may only need a modern fabric or bolder color to feel cozy and attractive again.

  • Sagging cushions

If your recliner had high-quality cushions when you bought it, it will probably last longer. However, this doesn’t mean that it will last forever. When you feel uncomfortable sitting on the seat, then that is your call to reupholster. The cushions will fall apart, and you don’t want it to get there.

Why Should You Reupholster Your Recliner?

  • A good reason to change your style

One reupholstered chair can impart a positive change to your home. You should, therefore, be keen about the fabric you choose. Consider getting fabrics with bold patterns, stripes or simply your favorite colors.

  • To restore a high-quality piece of furniture

Do you have that chair that you feel can live for a hundred years, but the skin is making it look older than it should look? If the chair has a solid bottom, it’s heavy and doesn’t squeak, reupholster it. It will last longer than you could ever imagine if you take good care of it. Traditional recliners have lasting construction and reupholstering makes the chair live up to its expectations.

  • Environmental friendliness

Rather than tossing the chair out, cut down waste by giving it a new lease of life. Reupholstering needs few trees cut down or a need for new steel. By recycling the strong parts, you will be playing your role in reducing pollution. Re-upholstery materials are green. So, what better way of enhancing your home’s beauty, levels of beauty and reducing litter and carbon emissions?

  • Value for your money

“They no longer build things the way they used to.” This phrase is true, and the only way of retaining that old quality is by reupholstering the recliner. Buying a new one is too expensive anyway.

  • Sentimentality

You wouldn’t want to throw out that recliner that has been in your family for years, right?

Best Materials for Reupholstering

There is a vast range of materials you could use to reupholster your recliner. But, you have to choose one type or material. The choice you make depends on your personal preference and the cost of the fabric. The patterns and the weight of the fabric matter too. Re-upholstery fabrics include:

Natural Fabrics

These natural fabrics range from cotton to cotton blends and leather. When you reupholster your recliner, the aesthetic of the fabric you pick will affect chairs, sofas and couches around your recliner.

  • Cotton – it is resistant to pilling, fading, and wearing because of its durability. Unfortunately, it wrinkles, and it will get dirty fast.
  • Cotton blends – it is more durable than cotton because blending makes it stronger. The blends also prevent the formation of wrinkles.
  • Leather – as long as you get genuine leather, it is durable, functional and it wears off well. Leather looks better when it is old compared to when new.
  • Silk – this is a fancy fabric, and it will add a level of sophistication to your furniture.
  • Linen – it is durable and resistant to piling and fading. Linen adds a crisp appearance to your seats.
  • Wool - It is also used in re-upholstery but only when blended with synthetic fabrics.

Synthetic Fibers

Acrylic is an imitation of wool, and it is a softer version of natural wool. It is resistant to wrinkling, dirt, wear, and fading.

Microfiber is somewhat similar to suede. It is easy to maintain and affordable. It is not durable though.

With all these fabrics, making a choice won’t be very easy. You should, however, make sure that you consider the budget and the benefits of the fabric selected.

How to Protect Your Recliner Seat from Frequent Need to Reupholster

Even if your recliner and sofas are all new, you have to maintain them. There are many ways of doing this. To prolong the life of your reupholstered seat, do the following:

  • Fluff

Cushions are soft, and you have to maintain the shape of the cushions regularly. You can do that by fluffing regularly to maintain shape and to prevent sagging.

  • Flip

Flip the cushion at least once every two weeks. Flipping your re-upholstery cushions ensures that they wear out evenly and maintain their shape.

  • Vacuum

You won’t see the dust accumulating on the cushion but, it is there. When you ignore the dust, you shorten the life of the fabric. So, make it a habit of vacuuming the seats as often as possible.

  • Do not expose the fabric to direct sunlight – UV rays break down the seat’s fabric leading wearing out fast.
  • Apply stain protection to make cleaning easier and to lower the effects of UV radiation.

How to Videos - Reupholster Your Recliner

The videos below demonstrate how to reupholster a recliner chair and create slipcovers for your recliner. The video on the left is in depth and the video on the right is a quicker tutorial.


Whether it is a recliner, chair, couch, sofa or any other piece of furniture, the upholstery is important to the finishing of the furniture. Remember, your project to reupholster your recliner will change the dynamic of the furniture around it. Couches, sofas and chairs can complement the fabric of the “new” recliner. When you upholster your recliner, you redecorate the chair and replace, clean and makeover the chair. With the steps, tips and pictures we provided and with your updated services, you will get a brand new looking recliner in no time. By DIY you will save costs (buying a new chair, recliner or sofa set), learn new skills and be able to repair and reupholster any sized recliner.