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DIY Repairing Cane Chairs

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I’ve got to say this is probably one of my all time favorite DIY flips!  

I was lucky enough to come across this dining room set which included a table with two leaf extensions and 8 chairs!  However, my husband was terrified of the chairs!  They had these crazy spinal tops and horrible velour yellow chair cushions.  He agreed to go pick up the table and was willing to pay the full price of the table/chair combo for only the table!  The only way I got him to agree to let me take the chairs as well was to tell him he could burn them if he totally hated them when I was done.  These are solid wood chairs!  For the price we got the whole set for we couldn’t buy a single new solid wood chair for! 

How to reupholster dining room chairs

Step 1: Remove the seat

repairing cane chairs

To remove the seat you will want to turn your chair over, there should be about 4 screws, one in each corner, that are holding the seat with seat cushion on the chair frame.  Using a drill you should be able to quickly detach the seat from the chair. 

Step 2: Reshape the top of the chair back

I first drew a template for the shape that I wanted at the top of the chairs.  Then I traced the template onto each chair using a sharpie mark; this gave me a line to follow while cutting.  I used my jigsaw and several heavy duty blades to cut through the 8 chairs. 

Tip: Take time for breaks, this takes a steady, strong hand.  This will save you time in the long run from having to do a lot of sanding to 

Then I used my palm sander with 150 grit sand paper to smooth the cuts and then with 220 grit sand paper to provide an even smoother finish. 

repairing cane chairs

Step 3: Prep the chairs for Paint

repairing cane chairs

To prep for repairing cane chairs, you will want to ensure you thoroughly clean them.  I started by brushing my chairs off, then vacuumed the cane, then I mixed a small amount of soap with water and wiped down the entire chair.  I then left it to dry.  Once it was dry, I lightly sanded over the entire chair with a fine grit sanding block.  Lastly, I wiped the chair down with denatured alcohol. 

Step 4: Paint the Chairs

I first applied a primer, I used Bullseye 1-2-3 Spray Primer.  Applying a primer helps to create a smooth even surface as well as reduce the amount of spray paint you will need to use to get good coverage on the chair. 

Next, I used the Rust-Oleum Chalked spray paint to paint my chairs.  The easiest way to paint cane is to use either a paint sprayer or a canned spray paint.

For both the primer and the paint I applied the spray in long sweeping motions over several light coats.  This is the best method to ensure you get an even, smooth finish and prevent drips. 

Lastly, I applied a top coat to seal the finish on the chairs. 

repairing cane chairs
paint cane furniture

Step 5: Reupholster the Seat

Reupholstering chairs sounds more intimidating than it really is!  All you need is the right fabric and a staple gun

You will want to thoroughly clean the existing fabric or if needed  remove and re-cushion the chair set.  Then cut your fabric in a square to be slightly larger than the seat itself and lay flat, place the seat upside down on top of the fabric and begin stapling. 

First place a staple in the center of each side of the seat.  Next, place two stapes moving out from the center continuing to bring in the fabric.  Then, pull in each corner and place a staple to hold the corners in place.  Lastly, pull the excess fabric tight to make a fold on either side of the corner and place a staple to either side.  See the numbered diagram for the order and where I placed my staples. 

I then went back over the seat an placed additional staples where I felt the fabric or cushion needed more securing.  


Step 6: Reattach the Seat to the Chair Frame

To reattach your seats you may need an extra set of hands.  You will flip your chair frame over and while holding the seat in place use your drill and the screws you removed in step 1 to reattached the seat.  Flip your chair over and take in the completed project! 

Links for Repairing Cane Chairs

*Disclosure: We only recommend products that we regularly use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own.  This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission.  We greatly appreciate your support in using our links! 

repair cane chairs

DIY Repairing Cane Chairs

Prep Time 4 hours
Build Time 8 hours
Dry Time 1 day


  • Jig Saw
  • Palm Sander
  • Staple Gun


  • Heavy Duty Jig Saw Blades
  • 150 Grit Disc Sandpaper
  • 220 Grit Disc Sandpaper
  • Fine Sanding block
  • Mild Soap
  • Denatured Alcohol 
  • Spray-on Primer
  • Chalked Spray Paint
  • Spray-on Top coat
  • Fabric
  • Staples


  • Remove the Seat
  • Reshape the Top of the Chair Back
  • Prep the Chairs for Paint
  • Paint the Chairs (primer, paint, top coat)
  • Reupholster the Seat
  • Reattach the Seat
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