Reupholstering Old Dining Room Chairs

by Janice


I have an old(1940's) mahogany dining room set. The seats are upholstered and I have redone them 3 or 4 times in the 40+ years that I've had it. The padding under the fabric is very old and flat-probably original since. It looks like cotton batting. While the chairs look lovely to sit in, they are not very comfortable. I think adding padding would help but am not sure what to use or how thick it can be. The fabric on the seats is folded under and tacked; there is no cording or anything else.

Any thoughts?


Janice Pinola

Hi Janice

I don't think dining room chairs were made for comfort in the 40,s but more for looks and style.

First thing to do is remove all the old fabric and padding. Then make sure the seat does not need any gluing or replacing of parts. If so now is the time to do it.

I would go with some high density good quality foam.
Do not spare expense here because cheaper foam will just flatten out
over a short period of time. High quality will last you for years. You do not want the seats looking to high so I would go with a 1 inch foam.
Another reason dining room chairs are really not made for comfort is they are not used for long periods of time.
If there is an open hole in the seat you could use rubber webbing and this will add to the comfort.
If not place and glue or staple the 1 inch foam in place.
To give your finished product a nicer finished look glue a piece of Dacron Wrap over the foam.
This will give your fabric a nice smooth finish.

Next use some quality fabric to finish the seat. I would stay away from vinyl as it can get sticky and hot.
Fabric with a high double rub count will work the best.

The double rub count test, which is a back and forth motion that approximates the wear and tear that comes from someone sitting down or getting up from an upholstered seat.
3,000 double rubs equals one year's worth of use.

Medium duty fabric can withstand 9,000 to 15,000 double rubs.

Anything 15,000 and over is considered commercial
But with the higher the rub count the stiffer fabric normally gets.

So I hope this helps with your dining room project

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