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How to Reupholster Church Pews
Oak Grove Baptist Church – Ebro, FL
Oak Grove Baptist Church – Ebro, FL

Reupholstering the pews of your church is a wonderful way to freshen up and modernize your church’s sanctuary without having to invest in an entirely new set of pews or other seating. Many churches elect for hiring a pew-reupholstery service like ours to perform this task, as the DIY process can be both tedious and extremely difficult. Not to mention time consuming. 

Here are just a few of the steps you will need to be prepared to take if you are planning on reupholstering your own church’s pews. 

Step 1

Most upholstered pews will require that you remove the side rail/leg of each pew in order to rewrap and properly staple the new fabric onto the pew bench. If not already refinishing the wooden portion of the pew, you must be extremely careful not to nick or damage the wood while removing it from the bench. We also highly recommend taking tons of before pictures from every angle and close ups of every corner/seam/etc. to ensure you can properly reassemble with no errors at the end of the reupholstery process. 


Step 2

Next you will need to make sure that you have found and purchased a fabric large enough to cover an entire pew. If you cannot find something large enough, you may have to sew smaller pieces into large enough pieces. The only problem with this is that you will then have seams in the pew seating from where you had to sew larger pieces together. In that instance, you will also need a sewing machine, thread, etc., and will need to add that additional step to the process. In addition to the fabric, you will also need to acquire foam seating board large enough to fit across the whole pew. You will not want smaller pieces for this, as it will result in some seats being quite uncomfortable. 

The foam should be the exact width and length of the pew, whereas your fabric will need to be several inches wider and longer, depending on the depth of your foam so that it can cover the entire surface area. We cannot stress enough how important it is to measure multiple times to ensure the fit of both the foam and fabric before starting, as it could be very costly to have to replace any mismeasured pieces. 


Step 3

Once you are ready to disassemble the pews, you will need needle-nosed pliers and a flat-head screwdriver to remove all of the many staples currently holding the fabric in place. Be careful when doing this to not damage anything you plan on reusing (Burlap under layer, foam pad if reusing, etc). After this step would be the best time to refinish your pews if you plan on doing that. Allow proper time for drying and varnishing to not have any messy stain transfer from the wood to the new fabric. 


Step 4

Once you are ready to reassemble, you will need to make sure you have an air-powered staple gun, air compressor, and a small tack hammer. You will also probably need two people to properly stretch the fabric without stapling it unevenly down the pew. This would result in skewed patterns/textures if the fabric choice is not solid, and can ultimately result in being halfway done reupholstering before realizing that the fabric will not cover the whole pew correctly. Starting at the back of the pew, stretch the fabric tightly over the foam board and staple below the eyeline every 2-3 inches. Use the tack hammer to make sure all staples are flush with the wood and nothing is left jutting out, which can cause injuries as well as being an eyesore. 


Step 5

Inevitably corners are always what break the DIY project for most people, as they can be difficult to do correctly without improper bunching and pulling. Starting in the back corners, pull the fabric down into a point, and cut a small seam up to the wood. Like wrapping a present, you will carefully pull the back portion of fabric under the front portion and staple below the eyeline. Pulling the front portion over the stapled portion, ensure it is flat, and staple below the eyeline. You will repeat this on the front as well, paying special attention to each corner as this will be a prominent part of the pew. Once all four corners are done, you can then repeat the same process you did on the back of the pew along the front, pulling the fabric tight and stapling every 2-3 inches. 


Step 6

Once the pews have been reupholstered, you can then reassemble the pews. Clean up any loose strings and vacuum to ensure everything is pristine, and you have a whole new look for your sanctuary without removing any of the original history!


Contact Kivett’s for Church Pew Reupholstery

For those of you who might rightly see this as more than you need to personally take on right now, that’s where we come in! By completing the entire process with our own highly skilled technicians, we can guarantee the highest quality at a reasonable price. With over 60 years experience doing this, it is comforting to know that we can provide a seamless process for you – from removal, repair, refinishing, restoration and re-upholstering, to delivery and re-installation, Kivett’s trained employees take extra care of your valuable furnishings. Contact our team at (800) 334-1139, or reach out to us here for more information about refinishing services.



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