Home Business How To Reupholster A Recliner

How To Reupholster A Recliner

by William Gist

Adjustable loungers, equipped with a special mechanism, are called recliners. They look and feel very comfortable and perfectly fit your interior. When it comes to the mechanism, convenience is the main idea. When folded, it is the most ordinary armchair that perfectly fits the rest of upholstered furniture.


When unfolded, the armchair turns into a place for rest of increased comfort, where even a long stay will be pleasant causing no harm to your health. You can enjoy sitting in it e.g. while reading a book or watching the TV. Its adjustable backrest typically features several modes and a special shape supports all essential points of our body, making it even more relaxing and healthy.

Most of the old recliners, according to https://reclinerfaq.com/ have manually adjusted backrests and footrests. Modern constructions, equipped with electric drives, allow you to adjust the device more smoothly and comfortably.

Old recliners often lose their presentable appearance over time, but their frame condition is much better than in modern economy class furniture. Buying a new soft part of the same quality will cost a round sum, it is much cheaper to reupholster an old armchair.


You can contact a company that provides re-upholstery services, but many owners of these furniture pieces prefer to do this on their own to save money. The task is not simple, but quite feasible, especially if the armchair has a standard design without elements of complex shape. It is only necessary to follow the technology to the smallest detail. This article describes how to reupholster a recliner at home.

Tools and materials

Usually, not only the upholstery itself is worn out, but the padding also deteriorates with time, so for the restoration of the soft part, you will need furniture fabric, synthesizer or batting, and dense furniture foam rubber 3-5 cm thick, as well as strongly reinforced threads, such as lavsan. If the recliner has open wooden parts with cracked varnish, they will also have to be restored using sandpaper and varnish or wood stain.

Prepare the following:

  • Screwdriver (flat head screwdriver);
  • Hammer;
  • Pliers (for disassembling and assembling the frame);
  • Upholstery pneumatic stapler with an air compressor (a compact one will do);
  • Fabric glue;
  • Scissors (like one at Fiskars)  and sewing accessories;
  • Tape measure;
  • Upholstery needle (curved) and thread (heavyweight);
  • Sewing machine for sewing furniture covers;
  • Upholstery tack strip or cardboard tape;
  • Anti-staller for dismantling old upholstery and furniture stapler with staples to fix the new one;
  • Metal tack strips (also found in your recliner so that you can reuse it);
  • Piping (to reuse from the recliner or couch);
  • New pattern (you can use either fabric or leather).

Also, you may need new fasteners – nails, screws – the old ones are often stripped.


The upholstery is usually preceded by disassembly, so the question arises: how to change the upholstery and not to get confused in the process of reassembly? It is highly recommended to take photos of the recliner (at different angles) before starting the work so that you can see how the whole thing is connected.

The whole reupholstery process can take you about a week, depending on how much time you plan to spend. The price of the matter depends on the materials you buy, but do not rush to the store, as you may already have some necessary tools. So check your toolbox first.

Sometimes the upholstery sags because of the wear of the padding, but the material is still in good condition. In this case, the padding is changed, and the old upholstery is reupholstered. If it has faded or worn out, you need to choose a new upholstery material and decide how much of it you need for all the parts. When choosing upholstery fabric at Kovi Fabrics, you should take into account:

  1. Your budget – the price range of materials is very wide;
  2. Interior features – updated furniture should harmonize with the rest of the environment;
  3. Recliner exploitation – in some cases you need the most wear-resistant, unstainable material, in other situations you can choose more delicate.

Measuring the sizes of the parts that require reupholstery, it is possible to calculate approximate fabric quantity. You may have more exact result if you make measurements after disassembling the old upholstery – you can seam rip it and summarize the sizes of all fabric details. Label the different parts of the chair to see how the folding device can be assembled and which fabric to cut and use for upholstery.

Step-by-step disassembly is done in this order:

  • Backrest;
  • Footrest and bottom;
  • External wooden parts (if any);
  • Upholstery;
  • Padding.

To determine the method of disassembly, you need to understand how the parts are connected to each other. If the recliner has a lever, start with it, unscrew it and pull out. Then move on to the seat cushions, seam ripping them.

When removing plywood parts (bottom, backrest), screws are unscrewed, nails are pulled out, and staples are bent out. If the nuts are fastened, the joints are treated with liquid corrosion protection. Use a screwdriver and a hammer to remove armrests and other wooden outer parts. To remove the fabric, bend the brackets which fix it, if the upholstery was made with ties, it is also necessary to cut or untie the ropes, remove the furniture buttons. The padding is inspected and a decision is made whether it is necessary to change it completely or just to add a new layer.

When removing the upholstery, the sequence of dismantling should be recorded so that the new upholstery can be attached in reverse order. You can put the numbers directly on the details of the old upholstery and make notes about the way of fastening each.

It is recommended to treat all metal parts, which will be used repeatedly, with anticorrosive composition, and wooden parts – with antiseptic to remove the unpleasant smell. It is also necessary to grind the wood, remove any glue leaks and foam residues.


Recliner restoration

The upholstery replacement is also carried out in stages. If the padding is changed, it should be attached to the wooden frame with a special glue or a new layer should be glued over the old one in case it has lost its thickness but is not crumbling. It is better to completely change the filler so that it does not sink in after a couple of years. The padding should extend approximately 1 cm beyond the edges of the frame.

While the glue dries, the new upholstery is cut out, for this purpose, the parts of the old, seam ripped, are laid out and drawn on the fabric. If the textile fabric is used, it should be arranged symmetrically.

It is better to first plan the covers, try them on, and only if everything fits perfectly, stitch the seams on the machine.

Fastening of the fabric starts from the middle of the ribs of the frame, it is fixed in 4 places. Then it is fixed with brackets moving from the center to the edges, alternately in both directions. It is necessary to distribute the material evenly and ensure that there is no excessive tension, sagging or distortion. The bottom and backrest can be covered with a cheaper cloth. When the backrest, seat, left and right armrests are tightened, external wooden elements have been restored, it is possible to proceed to the assembly of the chair in the reverse order of dismantling.


  • Take photos and notes.
  • Usually, these armchairs are made of leather, so use a leather cleaner to keep it in good condition.
  • Avoid using conventional household cleaners or acetone when removing stains on the backrest, as they can damage the material. Use regular soap and water.
  • Wipe your seat from dust, grease, and dirt at least once a week. Use a soft cloth to keep the leather glossy.
  • Use a leather cleaner at least twice a year, especially if a large number of people like to sit in the recliner.

Final thoughts

So there you have it! Our complete guide to reupholstering a recliner chair. Of course, you need to be mindful that reupholstering a recliner chair will cost in the region of $400 to $1,000.

If you’re not looking to reupholster a recliner but buy a new recliner, check out the fantastic range of recliners on sale at https://reclinerlife.com/