How to Reupholster a Bench: Upholstery Makeover

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I had been wanting to reupholster this bench for nearly 4 years now.


But I had been the victim of “unfinished-itis.”

You know…that debilitating condition that happens to do-it-yourselfers when you start a project but some virus starts eating away at your resolve to finish and before you know it, the project is collecting dust in some musty corner of your basement.

Well, that’s what happened with this $25 estate sale bench that I lugged home years ago.

Lost leg bolts…broken bench arms…and DIY distraction prevented me from adding this potentially piece of furniture to my collection.

Until today, that is.






I can’t believe it turned out so pretty!

Keep reading to learn how I did it.


Upholstery Materials

Here are the materials needed to reupholster a bench.



The T50X TacMate was super easy to use for this project. Because it’s got a rubber grip, my hand doesn’t slip off of it. And it’s got a little window on the side so you can easily check to see if you’re running low on staples. Genius!



STEP 1: Remove the Old Fabric

This is probably the most intimidating part when you upholster a bench or another piece of furniture. Sometimes you’re just not sure where to start!

For this bench makeover, the starting point was removing the decorative trim that was hot glued over the staples to hide them.



Next, I used my Arrow Fastener staple lifter and pliers to pull the staples out of the MDF boards that were glued together to make up the upholstered bench arms.

It’s always interesting when you remove the fabric and padding on upholstered furniture and see what’s really underneath! It’s just pieces of old wood and boards. The whole “smoke and mirrors” illusion doesn’t seem so tricky, after all!



STEP 2: Cut New a Pattern from the Old Fabric

I love saving the old pieces of fabric to use as a new pattern. You don’t have to do this, but personally, I think it makes things much more “no-brainer” than having to figure it out for yourself.



It’s still good to measure so you’ll know the measurements, but with the pattern, it takes the whole guess-work out of it.



When I was done laying out and cutting new pieces of fabric, I had two large pieces and two smaller pieces for the upholstered bench arm coverings.

And can I just say that the fabric for this project I already had on hand??

Let me correct myself:

The fabric I used was fabric my husband had on hand. He had removed from my “Giveaway Pile” when I got rid of a bunch of fabrics, unbeknownst to me. Only when I was lamenting to him about not having fabric for this upholstered bench makeover did he divulge that he’d been holding on to the fabric I thougt I had given away.

Lesson learned: never get rid of fabric.





STEP 3: Paint the Bench (Optional)

You don’t have to paint a bench before upholstering it. But this one needed a pick-me-up.

IT was an ugly plastic coating over MDF boards, so I felt no qualms whatsoever about slapping paint on it. (Be sure to use two coats).

Related: What’s the Best Paint For Furniture?



STEP 4: Upholster the Bench Seat

While the paint was drying, I draped fabric over the seat of the bench and trimmed it to fit.

Next, I used my Arrow Fastener T50X TacMate to secure the fabric as close to the edge as possible.




STEP 5: Trim the Excess Fabric

Once secured in place, I used my scissors to trim the excess fabric and folded in the corners of the upholstered bench.

At this point, with hot glue, the edge where the staples were place was ready to be hidden with hot glue and bias tape that I used as “decorative trim” since I didn’t have any other options.

But I think the black bias tape worked really well!



STEP 6: Upholster the Bench Arms

Now that the bench was upholstered, it was time to tackle the bench arms.

Starting on the underside of the arm, I folded the fabric in and used the T50X TacMate to secure the fabric to the MDF “wood.”



I tucked the fabric up underneath the roll, stapled, and added another piece of fabric to cover the rest of the upholstered bench arm.



Around the edges, I had to fold the fabric so that it would fit.


STEP 7: Hot Glue Trim to Hide the Upholstery Staples

To cover the upholstered bench staples, you’ll need to cover the staples with something decorative. I just used bias tape because I have some on hand, but it actually worked out perfectly well! It complimented the fabric nicely.



Be super careful with hot glue! I burned my fingers a few times when pressing down on the trim. Ouch!



The last step is to add the legs back onto the bench.

I’ll likely need to go back and add wax or a topcoat to help protect the paint. But for now, it’s a wrap–this project is 99% done! 🙂



Here’s another quick look at what it looked like when I bought it from the estate sale four years ago:









So what do you think?! Isn’t it super cute?

The challenge will be trying to find a space in my house for it! 🙂

Maybe I’ll just keep it down in the basement for when I need moments to chill out in between projects!

So do you have a goal to upholster a bench in the near future, or maybe some other furniture project?

Leave a comment below and let’s talk about it.

And be sure to head over to Arrow Fastener to learn more about the T50X TacMate for your upholstery projects!

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  1. beautiful! thank yoU! I want to recover my beautiful bench and paint it white bc its so fancy and I am switching to farmhouse style. this was very helpful, thank you

  2. Hi Serena, your bench turned out great. I am looking online for a bench that I can lay down on in front of my fireplace. Basically the same way you layed down on yours. I cant decide how big the bench needs to be. What size is your bench? Thanks

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