Can A Leather Recliner Be Reupholstered?

In this article, you’ll learn whether or not a leather recliner can be reupholstered. If you’ve been thinking of giving your old leather recliner a fresh look, you’ll find out if it’s possible and how to go about it.

The answer to the question is yes, a leather recliner can be reupholstered. Leather recliners can be reupholstered just like any other piece of furniture. However, it’s important to note that reupholstering a leather recliner can be a challenging task, so it’s recommended to seek professional help or have some experience in upholstery.

Understanding the Process

Evaluation of the Recliner

Before you begin the process of reupholstering a leather recliner, it is important to evaluate the condition of the recliner. Check for any structural damage or issues with the reclining mechanism. Make sure that the frame is sturdy and there are no cracks or breaks. Assess the condition of the cushions and padding as well, as these may need to be replaced or refurbished during the reupholstering process.

Selecting the Right Upholstery Material

Once you have evaluated the recliner and determined that it is suitable for reupholstering, the next step is to select the right upholstery material. Leather is a durable and popular choice for recliners, but there are other options available as well. Consider factors such as the style and design of the recliner, the existing decor in your home, and your personal preferences when choosing the upholstery material.

Disassembling the Recliner

Before you can start the reupholstering process, you will need to disassemble the recliner. This involves removing any screws, bolts, or other fasteners that hold the recliner together. Take note of how the recliner is put together, as this will help you during the reassembly process. Keep all the screws and bolts in a safe place so that they don’t get lost.

Preparing for Reupholstering

Gathering the Necessary Tools and Materials

Before you begin reupholstering the recliner, make sure you have all the necessary tools and materials. Some of the tools you may need include a staple gun, pliers, scissors, a sewing machine, a tape measure, and a screwdriver. As for materials, you will need the chosen upholstery fabric, batting or foam for the cushions, and any additional padding or trimmings. Having everything ready beforehand will make the process smoother and more efficient.

Removing the Old Upholstery

Once you have gathered all the tools and materials, the next step is to remove the old upholstery from the recliner. Start by removing any staples or nails that are holding the fabric in place. Use pliers or a staple remover to carefully pry them out. Once the old upholstery is removed, take the opportunity to clean the recliner frame and cushions, ensuring that they are free of any dust or debris.

Reupholstering the Recliner

Cutting and Measuring the New Fabric

Now that the recliner is prepared, it’s time to cut and measure the new fabric. Lay out the fabric on a flat surface and place the different sections of the recliner on top of it. Use a tape measure to carefully measure and mark the dimensions needed for each section. Make sure to leave enough excess fabric for seam allowances and tucking. Once you have marked the dimensions, use scissors to cut out the fabric pieces.

Sewing and Fitting the New Upholstery

With the fabric cut to size, you can now move on to sewing and fitting the new upholstery. If there are any sections that require sewing, such as cushion covers, use a sewing machine to stitch the fabric together according to your measurements. Remember to leave openings for stuffing and access to the cushions when necessary. Once everything is sewn, begin fitting the upholstery onto the recliner, starting with the larger sections and working your way to the smaller ones.

Securing the Upholstery to the Recliner Frame

Once the new upholstery is fitted properly, it’s time to secure it to the recliner frame. Start by using a staple gun to attach the fabric to the frame, starting at one edge and working your way around. Pull the fabric taut as you staple, ensuring a smooth and wrinkle-free finish. Take your time and be careful not to staple too close to the edges or too far apart. Trim any excess fabric and ensure that the upholstery is securely attached to the frame.

Dealing with Cushions and Padding

Replacing or Refurbishing Cushions

During the reupholstering process, you may come across cushions that are worn out or in need of replacement. If the cushions are still in good condition, you can choose to reuse them by covering them with new fabric. However, if they are worn or no longer comfortable, it may be necessary to replace them with new foam or batting. Measure the dimensions of the cushions and cut new foam or batting to size. Insert the new cushion material into the covers or replace the entire cushion if needed.

Repairing or Replacing Padding

In addition to the cushions, the recliner may have padding that needs repair or replacement. Inspect the padding to see if it is still in good condition. If there are any areas that have flattened or lost their shape, you can add additional padding to restore its form. Use batting or foam to add extra padding as necessary. If the padding is beyond repair, it may be necessary to replace it entirely. This will ensure that the recliner remains comfortable and supportive.

Attaching Buttons and Trim

To add a finishing touch to your reupholstered leather recliner, consider attaching buttons and trim. Buttons can be sewn onto the fabric to create tufting, giving the recliner a stylish and sophisticated look. Trim, such as welting or piping, can be added to the edges of the upholstery to give it a polished and tailored appearance. Take your time when attaching buttons and trim to ensure that they are properly secured and enhance the overall look of the recliner.

Reassembling the Recliner

Putting the Pieces Back Together

Now that the reupholstering process is complete, it’s time to put the recliner back together. Refer to the notes you made during the disassembling process to make sure you remember how everything fits together. Start by reattaching the different sections of the recliner, using the screws, bolts, or other fasteners that were removed earlier. Double-check that everything is properly aligned and tightened before moving on to the next step.

Adjusting and Testing the Reclining Mechanism

Once the recliner is fully reassembled, take the time to adjust and test the reclining mechanism. Ensure that the recliner moves smoothly and locks into place when desired. Check that the footrest extends and retracts properly and that the backrest reclines to the desired angle. If you encounter any issues or the reclining mechanism does not perform as expected, refer to the recliner’s user manual or consider seeking professional assistance to resolve the problem.

Additional Considerations

Stain Protection and Maintenance

To prolong the lifespan of your newly reupholstered leather recliner, it is important to take steps to protect it from stains and maintain its appearance. Consider applying a stain protection spray to the fabric to repel spills and stains. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using any cleaning products on the recliner. Regularly vacuum the fabric to remove dust and debris, and avoid placing the recliner in direct sunlight or near heat sources to prevent fading and cracking.

Hiring a Professional vs. DIY Approach

Reupholstering a leather recliner can be a complex and time-consuming task, requiring a certain level of skill and expertise. While some people may enjoy the challenge of a DIY project, others may prefer to hire a professional to ensure a high-quality and professional result. Consider your own skills and comfort level before deciding whether to tackle the reupholstering process yourself or enlist the help of a professional upholsterer.

Alternative Options for Old Recliners

Donating or Selling the Recliner

If you find that reupholstering your leather recliner is not a viable option, there are alternative options to consider for your old recliner. One option is to donate the recliner to a local charity or non-profit organization. This allows someone else to benefit from your recliner while also helping a worthy cause. Another option is to sell the recliner, either through online platforms or local classifieds. This gives you the opportunity to recoup some of the cost of purchasing a new recliner.

Repurposing the Recliner

If you have a creative streak or enjoy upcycling furniture, repurposing your old recliner can be a fun and rewarding project. Consider transforming the recliner into a different piece of furniture, such as a loveseat or rocking chair. You can also use the recliner frame as a base for a completely new creation, such as a custom pet bed or a unique outdoor seating area. Let your imagination run wild and give your old recliner a new lease on life.


In conclusion, a leather recliner can indeed be reupholstered, allowing you to breathe new life into an old and worn piece of furniture. With proper evaluation, material selection, and the right tools and materials, you can successfully reupholster a leather recliner and restore it to its former glory. Whether you choose to tackle the project yourself or seek the assistance of a professional, the result will be a comfortable and stylish recliner that will provide you with years of enjoyment. So, don’t be afraid to embark on the reupholstering journey and give your leather recliner a fresh and inviting look.

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About the Author: Phil Bentley

Phil has cultivated a deep appreciation for the comfort, craftsmanship and timeless elegance that leather recliners embody.