Do you have an old, beaten-up chair that you still love? With some paint and a little fabric, you can turn a tired chair into a fresh, stylish eye-catcher
How to Repaint a Chair
Rob D. Brodman


(not including chair)

  • primer, 1 quart
  • matte latex paint, sample size
  • fabric, 2/3 yard or as needed


  • screwdriver
  • sandpaper or sanding sponge, 180 grit
  • microfiber dust cloth
  • paint tray
  • mini roller
  • synthetic-bristle brush, 1 inch or 2 inch
  • pencil or chalk
  • scissors
  • staple gun with 3/8-inch staples


1. Prep. Place the chair on the drop cloth or newspaper. With the screwdriver, unscrew the seat from the chair frame. Set aside the seat and the screws. With the sandpaper or sanding sponge, lightly sand the frame. Wipe off the residue with the dust cloth.

2. Prime. Pour some primer into the tray. Use the mini paint roller to coat the frame with primer. Roll from the inside of the frame out toward the edges and from the top down. Then immediately follow with the brush to fill in the corners and remove drips. Brush in long, straight strokes to smooth the surface.

3. Paint. Apply a base coat of paint, following the same method used in step 2. Let the first coat dry and then apply a second coat. Let dry. 

4. Re-cover the seat. Remove the old covering from the chair seat, or leave it on and apply the new covering over it. To cover the seat, put the seat face down on the fabric (also face down). If the fabric pattern includes stripes, make sure they align with the seat. Then, with the pencil or chalk, draw a line on the fabric 4 inches beyond the seat, or farther out if the seat is thick. With the scissors, cut along the line and remove the excess fabric. Wrap the seat fabric over one edge of the seat, and secure it with two staples near the center of that edge. Pull the fabric snugly across to the opposite edge of the seat and repeat the stapling pattern. Repeat on the remaining two edges. Then, pulling the cloth tight, staple all around the perimeter, but stop 2 inches from each corner. 

5. Staple the corners and complete. Pull the fabric tight over the seat at one corner and secure it  with a staple to the back of the seat. Create neat tucks with the remaining fabric in that corner and staple them down. Avoid stapling over the screw holes. Repeat for each corner. Once the paint on the frame is dry, reattach the seat to the frame with the screws you had set aside.

First-timer tip

Make sure your chair is in good condition before you go through the trouble of making it over. Choose chairs with wooden frames, upholstered seats, no missing screws or loose legs, and interesting features or frame details.