How to Reupholster a Riding Lawn Mower Seat

Riding lawnmower seats are subjected to damage from many sources and can be re-covered at home.
Riding lawnmower seats are subjected to damage from many sources and can be re-covered at home. (Image: Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Age, weather and use will eventually wear holes and tears into the seat of a riding lawn mower. Damaged vinyl allows moisture to collect and the seat will eventually fall apart. To avoid the cost of a professional re-upholsterer, or a new seat, you can re-cover the seat yourself. While the seat will lack the molded look of a professionally done job, it will be water tight and serviceable.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench, screwdriver or other tools needed to remove the seat from the mower
  • Bucket of warm, soapy water
  • 2-inch-thick density foam
  • Felt marker
  • Vinyl
  • Wire brush
  • Rag
  • Scissors
  • Spray adhesive suitable for foam, metal and vinyl
  • Plastic beading
  • Rubber mallet

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Preparing the Surface

Remove the seat from the riding lawn mower using an appropriate sized wrench, screwdriver or other tools for the make and model of the mower.

Locate the end of the plastic beading that goes around the edge of the seat and pull it off by hand.

Wash the plastic bead in the soap and water. Rinse and let it dry.

Strip the old foam and upholstery materials from the metal. Pull the materials off by hand and remove any debris with a wire brush.

Clean the flaking rust from the metal of the seat with a wire brush, otherwise the glue will not stick to the seat.

Wipe the seat off with a rag.

Covering the Seat

Set the foam onto the seat.

Push the foam gently into the curve of the seat and trace around the seat edge with a felt marker.

Make an indication mark on the top edge of the foam and a corresponding one on the top of the seat. Do the same for the bottom of the seat. Make an additional mark where the seat curves.

Cut the foam 1 inch larger than the outline with a pair of scissors.

Spray glue onto the entire surface of the metal.

Cover the entire surface of the foam with glue.

Cover both surfaces with a second coat of glue after about two minutes. This second coat of glue allows about 10 seconds of readjustment time if you make a mistake. Check the instructions for variations in drying time.

Match the indication marks and press the foam into place on the seat. If you make a mistake, peel the foam back and reposition it immediately.

Trim the excess foam with scissors. Keep the edges even with the seat edges.

Securing the Vinyl

Lay the vinyl upside down on the foam. Creases will form where the seat curves.

Fold the vinyl over the edges of the seat. Have a helper hold the vinyl in place while you draw the outline of the seat onto the vinyl. Outline the area where the bottom of the seat is--the part you sit on.

Cut the vinyl 1 inch outside of the large outline and round the corners with scissors.

Spray adhesive onto the seat of the foam and onto the corresponding section you drew on the back of the vinyl. Adhere the two surfaces together.

Fold the top of the vinyl down onto the seat to expose the back of the vinyl.

Spray the seat back and the vinyl. Wait two minutes and adhere the two surfaces together. The contour of the seat will cause the vinyl to buckle on the edges where the seat back and seat meet.

Start at the center point on the bottom of the seat and spray glue to the foam and frame of the seat and to the back of the vinyl. Wait two minutes then press the two surfaces together, pulling the vinyl taut as you do so.

Set the plastic beading into place at the center point of the seat bottom. Set one edge of the beading on the vinyl of the seat front, the fold on the edge of the seat and the other side of the beading over the vinyl on the back of the seat. The foam should not be inside the beading. The tight fit will keep the beading in place.

Tap the plastic beading with the rubber mallet until it is securely in place. Securing the beading will tuck the vinyl under the edge of the seat frame. Stop when you come to the corner. The tight fit will keep the beading in place.

Spray glue onto the corner of foam and vinyl. Keep the vinyl taut with one hand while you tuck the corner of the vinyl to the outside of the seat with the other hand. There will be a crease and some wrinkles in this area.

Adhere the rest of this side edge.

Secure the plastic beading along the edge and stop before you come to the junction where the seat back and seat meet.

Adhere the edge of the vinyl and seat back together starting at the top of the seat and working the excess vinyl down to the junction point. Gently pull the vinyl directly across the seat back as you work and not on a diagonal.

Push the vinyl on the seat down and towards the curve of the back while pulling the excess vinyl from the top edge over the crease. Have the helper hold the vinyl in place while you secure the beading over the fold. The crease should be formed so that the fold of vinyl is on top of the crease.

Adhere the top edge of the seat back and follow the steps to finish the rest of the seat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Covering the lawn mower when it is not in use will help the seat last longer.
  • Seat contours will vary so you may have to experiment to cover your seat properly.
  • Study the original seat for ideas on how to shape and cut the materials for the new upholstery.


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