Refinished Dining Room Chairs


Isn’t it crazy how such a seemingly small change can make such a big difference? That’s what I found when I refinished our dining chairs. We were gifted the original chairs when we were just starting out our family- which we were so so grateful for! After some time though, we felt that the old fabric and wood needed a face lift. I decided to try something new and refinish the chairs rather than build or buy new ones.


You can follow the tutorial below on how to refinish some for yourself as well! There are many different opinions about this topic, but all of the steps below worked wonderfully for me, and the paint is still in great shape.


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Here’s what you’ll need:



  • Sandpaper and 320 grit sanding sponge
  • Paint (whatever color you prefer. Mine’s Sea Urchin by Nautica)
  • Polycrylic
  • New fabric (click HERE to see what I used)
  • 1/2″ staples
  • Scotchgard (optional)


Tools Used:


**(The actual first step is to take a picture of your old dining chairs so that you can see the dramatic difference this project will make. Okay, now you can move onto the real steps!)** 



Step 1: Remove old cushions

  • First off, remove the old cushions from the chairs. They may be attached differently than mine were, but mine were screwed into the chair through the bottom of the seat. All you need for this is a screw driver to unscrew them.



Step 2: Sand chairs

  • To prep the dining chairs for the paint, give them a good sanding to remove the old finish. This can be time consuming, but soooo worth it. The paint will adhere to the chair well, and you won’t have any bleed through from the old finish if you do this. Use a power sander such as an orbital sander to speed this up a bit.



Step 3: Paint

  • You can paint your chairs with a brush or opt for a paint sprayer like I did. Paint sprayers are SO. DANG. AWESOME. My Homeright paint sprayer has lasted through many projects and is worth the money. You can find it here if you want to check it out.
  • The type of paint you choose matters. Make sure you choose a good interior paint. I went for a paint & primer combination so that I could avoid an extra step, and it worked great. The paint line is Nautica at Home from Menard’s, and I used the color Sea Urchin with a flat sheen. Since I was planning on putting polycrylic over the paint, I didn’t worry about having a glossy finish.
  • The first coat that you apply should be light (see second pircure below). Once that’s dry, you can apply a second coat (see third picture below). Check your chairs to see if you need any more than two coats, but I found that my chairs were covered perfectly with two coats.





Step 4: Finish with poly

  • Let the paint sit on the dining chairs for at least a day before you apply your poly finish. For your finish, you will for sure want a water-based finish so that it won’t discolor your chairs. I went with Minwax’s Polycrylic and love how the chairs turned out.
  • You will want to do about 3 coats of polycrylic, so make sure you read the instructions on the can on how to apply it and how long to wait in between coats.
  • Did you know that you can also apply poly finishes with a paint sprayer? Life changing, people. I used my Homeright paint sprayer again, and each coat only took about 10 minutes. Another helpful product of theirs is their large spray tent. I use it in my garage to avoid getting overspray on anything. You can see the chairs in the large spray tent in the picture below.
  • When the chairs have a few coats on them, let the poly cure for at least 2-3 days. After that, feel your chairs. You may not think that they are as smooth as you would like. My trick for getting a smooth finish is to lightly wet sand with a high grit sanding sponge.
    • All you need to do is lightly spray your chairs with some water, rub the sanding sponge around to smooth out any bumps, and then wipe it clean. Feel how smooth it is now! Amazing, right?



Step 5: Reupholster cushions

  • Firstly, remove the old fabric by pulling out the staples or whatever was used to adhere the fabric to the seat. I did this with a flat head screwdriver and pliers.
  • Next, use the old fabric as a template for how to cut the new fabric. Lay the old fabric on the new and cut around it. The fabric that I bought was from Hobby Lobby. If you want to see exactly what it is, click here.
  • Wrap the new fabric around the seat and staple into place. I used 1/2″ long staples, because that’s about how thick the wooden seat was. Luckily, I had a friend who lent me their staple gun. Staple guns are not very expensive, so if you aren’t so lucky to borrow one, buying a staple gun is still monumentally cheaper than buying all new chairs!




Step 6: Assemble & use

  • Using the original screws, attach the newly upholstered seats to your chairs with a drill or screw driver.
  • If you’re like me and worry about the chairs getting dirty from kids, you can spray some Scotchgard on them, or even upholster them with a plastic protection. Looking back, I wish I had covered them with plastic, because we have our kids sit on towels in order to avoid stains! 
  • They are now done, and you can admire your hard work! Before you put the dining chairs back in your home, however, make sure you take pictures to remember this project. It’s always fun to look back on what you did and admire your work.





Let me know if you found this helpful and if you have tackled (or plant to) a project like this.


Thanks for reading!


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