How to Upholster a Wingback Recliner


A wingback chair can be the perfect decorative accent to complete a room, but you might not find one in a pattern or color that will work best for the look you wish to achieve. Once you find a pattern or color that will work, reupholstering the wingback chair is not as hard as you might think. By following a few simple steps, you can have your chair finished and ready for use in just a few hours without having to pay a professional or transport it to and from their location.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp scissors
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Ice pick tool
  • Rubber mallet
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Thick cord or piping


  • Use the needle nose pliers to take out any staples and remove the old upholstery. Make sure all pieces of upholstery come off in whole pieces and stay intact. Then lay the new upholstery flat on your cutting surface and place the old pieces on top of the new. The old pieces will be used as a pattern to cut the new pieces from; do this while leaving a generous seam allowance on the new pieces.

  • Cover the chair with batting if extra padding is needed or old button holes need to be covered. Take the piece of new upholstery that was cut for the part of the chair your back rests on and drape it over the chair in the right place. You will then be able to tuck the sides in and pull them through to the back side of the chair. Pull the top over to the backside of the chair and use the staple gun to secure it to the wood. This same process is done for the pieces on the sides and bottom of the chair back. Then trim off any excess fabric. The process is the same for the seat part of the chair. Drape the fabric over the seat and pull it taut through the back of the chair and staple underneath. Then pull the sides around the front and staple to the wood on the side of the chair.

  • Drape the fabric over the arm of the chair, folding one-third of it forward where the arm meets the back of the chair. Staple the fabric on the outside of the arm to the wooden frame. Pull fabric on the inside of the arm through the frame and out through to the outside and staple to the frame. At the top of the arm where you folded over the fabric, find the center and cut a slit all the way to the end of the fold. This slit helps the fabric wrap around the arm. Pull both ends taut and staple them to the frame. Take the excess fabric at the front of the arm and fold to the outside of the chair in a neat set of pleats and staple. Repeat these steps on the other arm.

  • Drape fabric over the wing and tuck in the inside and staple to the wood frame. Fold the fabric at the bottom of the wing under neatly. You will start stapling the outside of the wing on the side closest to the back and work inward continuing around the curve and down the wing. Lastly, trim any excess fabric one-quarter inch from the staples, pull the side of the fabric closest to the back taut and staple into the frame.

  • Use thick cord or piping to cover the seams around the chair. This can be done using the hot glue gun or sewn on by hand if you prefer.

Tips & Warnings

  • When selecting a new fabric to cover your wingback, upholstery fabrics work best, not only because they will last longer, but they're usually stain-guarded as well.

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