How to Reupholster Theater Seats

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Things You'll Need

  • Fabric

  • Scissors

  • Foam rubber cushion

  • Staple gun

  • Staples

  • Screwdriver

  • Tape measure

  • Paper

  • Pencil

  • Gorilla Glue

Reupholstering a few damaged seats can be fast and easy work, but for large quantities of seats, hiring a professional is recommended.

Many people save thousands of dollars a year by choosing to do home repair projects on their own rather than hiring out or purchasing replacement items. One of these projects may be reupholstering theater seats. The cost of a new theater chair can range from $250-$1,000, while the cost of reupholstering a damaged cushion can be less than $50.


Step 1

Remove the cushion or cushions you wish to reupholster. Some cushions are screwed in place, while others are simply wedged in and pop out easily. Measure the cushion with the tape measure. Add 3 to 6 inches to the length and width to allow for the cushion depth and to provide excess for attaching the new seat cover. Write down your measurements on a slip of paper.

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Step 2

Using the screwdriver and pliers to pry up the staples, remove the old fabric from the cushion. Examine the condition of the cushion underneath the old fabric. If the cushion is deteriorating, flat or unpleasantly fragrant, you will want to replace it.

Step 3

Visit a local fabric store to find the fabric you wish to use for reupholstering. Refer to your recorded measurements from the cushion to ensure you purchase a piece large enough. If you are replacing the cushion, purchase a piece of foam rubber in the desired thickness, firmness and size.


Step 4

Using the seat board that the old cushion was attached to as a stencil, trace the shape of the cushion on the foam rubber and the backside of the fabric with a pencil. Squeeze a generous amount of Gorilla Glue on the underside of the foam rubber. Line up the foam rubber with the seat board and press into place. Turn the seat upside-down (so the cushion is on the bottom) and place on a table to dry for 1 hour. Placing books on the seat board will strengthen the adhesion.


Step 5

Lay the new fabric on a table with the underside facing up. Place the seat cushion in the center of the fabric with the cushion side facing down. Starting on one edge, pull the center of the fabric taut and staple it to the seat board. Moving to the side opposite the staple, pull fabric taut and put one staple in the center. Continue this process with the other two sides. Before completely stapling an entire edge, each edge should have one staple in the center, pulling the fabric snugly.


Step 6

Staple along one edge leaving about an inch of unstapled fabric close to each corner. Once all the sides are this far along, cut off some of the excess fabric at the edges. You want to leave enough fabric that you can easily pull it over the seat board and staple it at least three times, but you don't want so much extra fabric that it becomes bunchy beneath the seat board.


Step 7

Pull the corner fabric around to the back of the seat board firmly while smoothing out any bunchy areas. Staple each corner at least three times.

Step 8

Reattach the seat cushion to the theater chair. Screw into place if you unscrewed it originally.


If the theater seat you are reupholstering has a padded back or armrests, use the old fabric as a template if possible.


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