Step 1: Unscrew the seat of the bar stool. There are typically four or five screws holding the middle on. If you aren’t sure how to do this, use an instructional video on your smartphone or YouTube.
Step 2: Remove all of the hardware from the bar stool seat. It consists of screws, washers, brackets, and staples that hold on the original upholstery material. These can either be removed with a screwdriver or pulled out with pliers if necessary.
Step 3: Mark where the new seat brackets need to be placed. The frames should be placed every 12″ and on the corners of the bar stool, and should extend outward from the edge of the seat about 1/2″. Mark these locations on the new upholstery material with a marker, and then set it aside.
Step 4: Use your power drill to make pilot holes through your marked spots in the bar stool seat.
Step 5: Screw into the holes that you made with your power drill. This should secure your new seating material to the stool.
Step 6: Re-attach the hardware that one removed earlier. If necessary, use a hammer and chisel to repair any dents or holes in the upholstery fabric.
Step 7: Enjoy your new bar stools!
You can use a similar process to recover any fabric furniture, from a couch to a love seat. Use the same basic steps listed above, but make sure to check out online sources for a diagram of your piece of furniture.
- Hammer and chisel (optional)
- The fabric of your choice (vinyl, leather, fabric, etc.): It should be the same color as the first upholstery material on your bar stool. You can find this at any fabric or upholstery supply store. Also available online. Most stores offer a swatch card of colors and patterns for customers to check out first hand before they buy.
- Barstool seat: You can replace the whole heart or just the little backing that holds the original upholstery in place. Plastic, metal, and wooden bar stool seats are available online and at most big box hardware and furniture stores (Ikea and Target notably).
- Screws, staples, or nails to attach upholstery to bar stool seat.
- Staples made for bar stools. An example of a staple that is available for bar stools is the #6 Anvil Square.
- Upholstery glue that lasts six years or more (I use Gorilla Glue or similar).
Note: These instructions do not cover the finishing touches. Bar stools are not new anymore, so they’re likely damaged somehow, whether it be minor scratches or significant dents. The best thing you can do is cover up these marks with some stain or wood putty or any other material that matches the rest of your furniture. I’ve used Minwax Wood Finish Stain on many projects with excellent results.
Here Are Some Safety Tips to Keep In Mind When Performing the Transformation of a Bar Stool:
– When trying to remove some of the old upholstery material, do NOT use a hammer and chisel. If you do, you’ll probably puncture the foam padding that lies underneath, which could cause a dangerous condition called “Severe Separation of Viscoelastic Membrane.” When this happens, air can leak out from the cushion and make it hard to operate the bar stool.
– Always wear protective eyewear when operating power tools. Use a screwdriver instead.
– Do NOT power drill small pilot holes in your bar stool seat. Even doing this could cause the piece of wood to splinter or crack if you’re uncertain about whether or not to use the power drill, ask an interior designer for their opinion.
– Always use a power drill with a wood-boring bit to install new seating material.
– Always use a power drill with a wood-boring bit to drill pilot holes in your bar stool seat.
– Make sure to read the safety warnings on the back of your upholstery glue bottle before you begin. In some cases, you must clamp your piece together for 24 hours before it dries completely.
– When you’re buying screws to install your new upholstery, make sure they’re the correct size. Otherwise, your seat could become loose over time.
– Use a nail or staple gun to attach new cushion material or other types of materials to your bar stool seat. If you don’t have a staple gun, consider trying a different material besides wood to add on top of the old upholstery. Examples include leather or vinyl.
– For the most part, bar stool frames are rectangular. If they’re not rectangular but round, you can still perform this transformation by making cuts in the leather or fabric to fit the curvature of your bar stool seat.
– Make sure that you put on your protective eyewear if you’re cutting fabric with pinking shears. It’s a good idea for any cutting tool because it helps prevent ripped skin and long-term eye damage.
– Always make a 3″ cut on the corners of your fabric seat. Doing this will help prevent the fabric from smooshing out of place when you put on the new upholstery material.
These are just some basic guidelines for transforming your old bar stools. This idea can be applied to other types of chairs, so long as it has the same general shape and dimensions. Keep in mind, when dealing with bar stools, there’s a lot of variations in shape and size. The best thing you can do is look at an image that represents your piece of furniture before you buy any upholstery materials or hardware that isn’t guaranteed to fit your specific piece.