How To Replace the Fabric on Patio Chairs (Easy Guide)

Replacing your patio chair fabric is an easy DIY project that anyone can do. Even if you’re not particularly handy, you can give your patio chairs a quick makeover provided you can follow instructions and work with simple tools. So how do you go about it?

To replace the fabric on standard patio chairs, gather the necessary tools and supplies, determine the size of fabric you need, and purchase it. Next, cut the new fabric to size and fit it onto your chairs by either stitching, gluing, or stapling it into place.

The process for reupholstering sling chairs is similar to what I’ve described above but with a few modifications. No matter what type you have, today’s post will teach you how to give them a fresh look because it covers replacing the fabric on both standard and sling patio chairs. Let’s cover the steps for standard patio chairs first because they’re more common.

1. Gather the Necessary Tools and Supplies

You’ll need several supplies to replace the fabric on your patio chairs. These include:

New Fabric

You’ll need to purchase a new sling or a normal fabric before you start changing the fabric on your patio chairs.

Don’t be tempted to install a used fabric. This can make the chairs look old and shabby, not to mention that the fabric can be uncomfortable to sit on. 

New fabric will make your chairs attractive and much more comfortable.

You can find new fabric at your local fabric store or online. Be sure to settle for a texture and color that matches your patio theme because the chairs are an important element of your home’s curb appeal.

Measuring Tape

If you’re planning to make this a DIY project, you’ll need to approximate how much material you require to complete the project. This is where a measuring tape comes in handy. It gives you precise measurements of any surface you want to work on so you don’t purchase too much or too little of any material. 

For example, when reupholstering your patio chairs, you’ll need to determine the actual size of the fabric you should purchase. A measuring tape will help you measure the width and height of the chair’s seat and back to help ensure that the new fabric fits properly.

A Pair of Scissors

Since you’ll be working with fabric for this project, you’ll need a pair of scissors to cut the fabric to the correct size and shape. You’ll also need scissors to remove any old fabric from the chairs. 

Tip: If you don’t have a pair of scissors, you can use a blade for the same purpose.

A Staple Gun and Staples

A staple gun is an important tool for changing the fabric on your patio chairs. This tool lets you quickly and easily attach the new fabric to the chairs.

You can get different varieties of staples from your local hardware or purchase some online; the choice is yours.

I’ve tried the PotomacBeads 71/10 Staples (link to Amazon) and found that they work magic. These staples are strong and reliable, and they’ll make quick work of any job. Plus, they’re affordable, so you can stock up without breaking the bank. 


An adhesive will ensure that the new fabric stays in place and looks great. Here are a few reasons why you should use an adhesive to reupholster a typical patio chair:

  • It will create a strong bond between the fabric and the frame.
  • It will prevent the fabric from slipping or moving around.
  • It will give the chair a neater and more polished look.

So, be sure to pick up some quality adhesive. It will make the job a lot easier and give you better results. 

I recommend a heavy-duty adhesive for strong bonds. You may want to try out  Gorilla Heavy Duty Spray Adhesive (link to Amazon). It’s one of the strongest adhesives you can use for this job, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

A Pair of Pliers

A pair of pliers makes it easier to remove the old fabric or sling from the frames. You can also use it to install the new fabric. Just be careful not to damage the rails. 

With pliers, you can adjust the tension on the sling to make it tighter or looser as needed. This can be helpful if you’re trying to make your sling chairs more comfortable. 

Pliers can also be handy when fixing an issue with the chairs down the line, not to mention the plethora of other potential uses in DIY projects.

Other Tools You May Need

Additional tools you might need for this DIY project include:

  • A screwdriver: Helpful when removing fabric or screws that might be attached to the chair.
  • A hammer: Handy when using nail heads on your patio chairs. You’ll have to hammer the upholstery nails when you’re through with attaching the fabric to the chairs.

2. Identify the Fabric That Needs To Be Replaced

Having gathered all the supplies you need, it’s time to replace the old fabric.

Start by identifying the fabric you want to replace. This may be due to wear and tear or because you want to change the look of your chairs. Whatever the case, identify the chairs with fabric that needs replacing and set them aside. You don’t want to go through this whole process only to realize that you missed some chairs.

3. Measure the Old Fabric

Once you’ve identified the chairs you want to reupholster, proceed to take measurements. The purpose of measuring the old fabric on your patio chairs is to get an idea of the quantity of the new fabric you’ll need.

To do this, remove the old fabric from the chairs and use your tape to take the measurements. Measure the width, length, and height of the fabric. This video demonstrates how to measure usable fabric width:

Be sure not to be messy when removing the old fabric. Doing this may tear the fabric, making it hard to measure. Also, add a few inches to your measurement to account for seams or other irregularities.

Once you’re through, note down the measurements and make the purchase.

4. Purchase the New Fabric

After determining how much fabric you’ll need for this project, head to your local fabric store and choose a fabric you like. Again, choose a color and texture that complements your patio furniture; you don’t want your patio chairs to look out of place.

After buying your fabric in the right color, texture, and measurements, get back home and proceed to the next step below.

5. Remove the Old Fabric

The best way to do this is to gently pull the fabric away from the frame. If it’s too hard to remove,  use a knife or other sharp tool to help pry it away.

Here’s a simple way to remove the old fabric from your patio chairs:

  1. Start by taking off the seat cushion and setting it aside.
  2. Next, use a screwdriver or other tool to remove the staples or other fasteners holding the fabric in place.
  3. Once the fabric is removed, identify what you need to assemble or disassemble to attach the new fabric.

Important reminder: Be careful not to damage the frame of the chairs!

6. Wipe Dirt Off the Frames of the Chair

To do this, use a damp cloth to wipe down dirt from the frames of the chairs. You can dampen the cloth with lukewarm soapy water or vinegar. I prefer vinegar since it’s a great all-purpose cleaner that works especially well on outdoor surfaces like patio furniture.

To clean your patio chairs, mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle, spray down the chairs, and wipe the frames with a cloth or sponge. You can also add lemon juice to the mixture for a fresh scent.

Be sure to reach all the nooks and crannies, as dirt and grime can build up in these areas over time.  Once the frames are clean, dry them off with a clean towel.

7. Cut the New Fabric to Size

Before attaching the new fabric to your patio chairs, you’ll need to cut it to the correct sizes. 

First off, measure the width, length, and height of the chairs for the second time to be sure. Be sure to add an inch or so to each side for seam allowance. For instance, if the old fabric was 10 inches (25.4 cm) wide and 20 inches (50.8 cm) long, the new fabric should be cut to 11 inches (28 cm) wide and 21 inches (53 cm) long.

Once you’re confident of your measurements, all that’s left is to cut the new fabric to these dimensions.

I highly recommend checking out the Youtube video below before making your cuts. It’s one of the best demos of cutting fabric for upholstery I’ve ever come across, and there are handy tips in there you don’t want to miss.

8. Attach the New Fabric to the Chair

Finally, it’s time to attach the new fabric to the chair.  There are three ways to do this: you can stitch it, attach it with a spray adhesive, or use a staple gun.

If you choose to stitch the fabric onto the chair, you have the choice to hand-sew the fabric or use a sewing machine. There isn’t a right or wrong choice here; it all comes down to what you have available (i.e., whether you have a sewing machine) and what option aligns best with your skills (i.e., whether you’re better at stitching by hand or using a sewing machine and vice versa).

If you opt to attach the fabric with an adhesive, you will need to use a quality adhesive to ensure the fabric firmly attaches to the frames or foam. You can apply the adhesive to the chair’s surface or frames and then attach the new fabric.

If you prefer to use a staple gun, place the fabric over the chair and staple it into place. Be sure to start in the middle of one side and work your way around, making sure that the fabric is tight and doesn’t sag.

This video shows how to use a staple gun to reupholster a slip seat.

9. Clean the Chair Once More

Cleaning your reupholstered chairs helps remove any dirt or debris that may have been trapped on the fabric. You can use a mild soap and water solution to do it. Make sure the chairs dry before seating on them.

That’s it! You can now sit back and enjoy your newly upholstered patio chairs.

How To Replace the Fabric on the Patio Sling Chair

Replacing the fabric on the patio sling chair is also a simple process. This process is similar to the one above, except it takes less time than reupholstering a standard patio chair.

To replace the fabric on a patio sling chair, you will need to:

  1. Purchase new fabric. Identify a fabric that matches your patio décor or theme.
  2. Pry off the sling inserts from the frame. You can use a flat screwdriver to remove the inserts.
  3. Cut the sling. You can cut it down the middle with a sharp utility knife or heavy-duty scissors. You can also insert a flat-head screwdriver inside the sling rail to remove the sling fabric. Be careful not to damage the frame.
  4. Spray the sling rail with soapy water. The soap makes the old sling loose, making it easy to remove.
  5. Remove the old sling from the chair. I recommend using pliers to pull down the sling off the rails.
  6. Disassemble the sling frames. Use the appropriate tools to remove some of the sling rails.
  7. Install the new fabric. You’ll need to slide the replacement material on the sling rails.
  8. Pull the sling material down. Ensure it’s even on both sling rails.
  9. Tighten the bolts onto the bottom of the chair. When doing this, gently alternate back and forth between the bolts.
  10. Stretch the new fabric upwards to eliminate any wrinkles. Do this by standing behind the chair and using a plier to pull the sling upwards. This will ensure the fabric and the sling rails are aligned.

If you need a more hands-on demonstration of how to change the fabric on a sling chair, check out the video below:


Replacing the fabric on your patio chairs is a great way to revive them. With a few simple tools and a little labor, you can give your chairs a fresh look by:

  • Noting and measuring the fabric size you’ll need.
  • Purchasing new fabric in the right color, texture, and size.
  • Removing the old fabric.
  • Cleaning the surface of the chair.
  • Installing the new fabric.
  • Finishing with a final clean-up of your patio chairs

Of course, you can always hire someone to do all this if DIY isn’t your cup of tea; there’s absolutely no shame in that. 


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