How to Do Staple Batting When Reupholstering a Chair


While it may seem counterintuitive to use sharp metal staples to achieve a soft and comfy reupholstering result, most chairs – even expensive, high-quality ones – are partially held together with staples. Cotton batting adds an extra layer of softness and comfort between upholstery foam and your fabric covering. Attaching cotton batting to your chair frame with staples is a quick and efficient way to ensure that it won't crease or bunch.

Cotton Batting

  • Cotton batting is made from the by-product that occurs when raw cotton goes through a cotton gin. The leftover fibers are treated with boric acid and a light oil such as cottonseed and are formed into cotton batting. Cotton batting comes in many thicknesses, from the heavy-duty type used in the manufacturing of mattresses to the thinner types used in upholstering chairs. Most cotton batting is flame retardant, which makes it a safe component of an upholstery project as well as a convenient one.


  • While cotton batting is thin, flexible and easy to work with, you do need to secure it to your chair with sturdy staples. Depending on the type of chair you’re working with, you can use either a regular staple gun or an electric one. The harder the wood involved and the more layers of cotton batting you are using, the more powerful your staple gun needs to be to ensure that the reupholstery job is as durable as it is attractive.


  • Cotton batting is one of the easiest materials to work with when reupholstering furniture. The best way to ensure that it stays centered and does not shred or tear is to lay the batting over your foam, making sure that it is centered. Hold the foam in place with one hand while you gently fold one edge under the chair seat. Hold that edge in place and use your first hand to place a staple in the center of the cotton batting’s edge. Repeat for the other three sides, placing one staple in the center of the edge. Once you have secured the cotton batting with staples, you can turn the chair over and continue stapling, working from the center staples toward the corners of the chair seat.

Tips and Hints

  • Graduated layers of cotton batting on top of foam create a luxuriously soft upholstered chair seat. Start with a layer of batting that is larger by 2 inches all around than your foam. Pull it taut over the foam and staple it to the underside of the seat. Make the next layer 1 inch smaller and staple that to the underside of the seat. Decrease the rest of the layers by 2 to 4 inches at a time and use spray adhesive to attach them to each other.


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