Informational Guide

How To Reupholster Car Seats

Tired of your old car seats? One of the cheapest & easiest ways to breathe new life into your car is to reupholster the seats with our step-by-step guide.

Are you getting tired of your old car seats? One of the cheapest and easiest ways to breathe new life into your car is to reupholster the seats. In this guide, we will show you how to reupholster car seats yourself. With our help, this DIY project might be easier than you think.

Reupholstering simply means to re-cover with a new fabric or material. Here are some of the areas of your car that you may want to work with:

  • Seats 
    This is the most common area of a car to reupholster. You can refresh both the front seats and the backseat of your vehicle with new fabric.
  • Headliners 
    This is the fabric that covers the interior ceiling of your car. It can often become loose or stretched out after a while.
  • Interior Carpets  
    Besides the floor mats, your car has interior carpet throughout the body and trunk. Automotive carpet is tough and durable, but it can get dirty over time.
  • Convertible Tops and Vinyl Roof Covers  
    The fabric found on a convertible or Jeep roof cover can get damaged from the sun, rain, or snow.
  • Dashboards 
    This part of your car is prone to sun damage and wear and tear. You can often reupholster the whole dashboard or small areas with a patch.
  • Door Panels  
    This part of your car can take a lot of abuse. With the constant open and close action, door panels can get damaged over time.

5 Materials Commonly Used for Car Seat Upholstery


This is one of the most popular materials used for car seats due to its durability and affordability. It is also resistant to heat, so when you sit in your car on a hot summer, you won’t get burned.

How To Reupholster Car Seats


This type of car seat material, also called microsuede, is commonly used due to its luxurious look and feel. It is heat-resistant and very comfortable. However, it can be a bit tough to clean since it easily picks up dirt.

How Much To Reupholster A Car Seat


This material is the easiest to clean. It is not porous, so you can easily wipe it down. It can give your car a vintage look, and it is affordable. Vinyl car seats look somewhat like leather, but they are much cheaper.

How Much To Have Car Seats Reupholstered

Faux Leather

This material is popular in mid-range vehicles since it is cheaper than real leather. It is also easier to maintain since you do not have to condition it as much. Faux leather looks and feels similar to the real thing.

How To Reupholster Car Seats In Leather


This material is the most expensive. It is usually found in high-end cars. It is relatively easy to clean but requires more maintenance to keep it soft. You should use a leather cleaner and conditioner when cleaning leather car seats.

How To Reupholster A Car Seat Leather

Benefits of Reupholstering Car Seats

If your car seats are looking rough and dirty, then it might be time to consider reupholstering them. One benefit to redoing your seats is that you can instantly remove years’ worth of stains, dirt, wear, and tear.

Another benefit is your car interior will look completely different. While most of us are pretty attached to our vehicles, it can be nice to refresh the interior. It might make it feel like a new car. If you plan to resell your car, a well-done upholstery job can increase the value immensely.

How to Reupholster Car Seats: Step by Step Guide from a Pro

Now that you know what type of new fabric you want for your car seats, let’s take a look at some of the tools you will need to get the job done right. Keep in mind, you will need some basic knowledge of sewing to complete this project.

Tools Needed:

  • Screwdriver
  • Socket wrench
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine
  • Markers
  • Replacement seat material
  • Upholstery thread
  • Large white paper for creating patterns
  1. 1
    Using the appropriate tool, remove the seat from the chassis. If there are any electrical components within the seat assembly, you will need to disconnect them.
  2. 2
    Remove the seat from the car and into your workspace.
  3. 3
    Remove the headrest by squeezing the connector and pulling it out.
  4. 4
    Unscrew the seat base from the frame of the car seat.
  5. 5
    Detach the clips holding the seat base to the cushion.
  6. 6
    Remove the old upholstery from the car seats. It is best to pull off the old upholstery in an upward motion.
  7. 7
    Repeat this process for the headrest and the back of the seat. You can remove the fabric in the same way by lifting upward.
  8. 8
    Once you have all the upholstery in front of you, use your marker to label where the seams meet.
  9. 9
    Use your seam ripper tool to remove the stitches from the old upholstery.
  10. 10
    Once all of the fabric is separated, lay it out onto your large white sheet of paper.
  11. 11
    Trace the old car seat upholstery to create a pattern.
  12. 12
    Cut out the patterns and place them onto the new car seat fabric.
  13. 13
    Cut the new car seat fabric leaving about 1 inch of extra fabric around all of the edges.
  14. 14
    Sew together the pieces of upholstery using the seam markers you labeled in the previous step.

Pro Tip: The sewing process might be harder for leather materials. Make sure you set up your sewing machine for the specific material you are using.

  1. 15
    Once you have all the pieces sewn, leave them inside out. Start by slowly rolling the new seat base fabric onto the seat cushion. Replace the clips.
  2. 16
    Complete the same process for the seat backing.
  3. 17
    Reattach the seat base to the seat back and connect them back to the car chassis.

Calling in the Professionals: How Much Does it Cost?

Depending on the type of fabric you want for your new car seats, the professional reupholstery costs will vary. Leather and vinyl seats may cost more than polyester and nylon. The going rate for one seat is anywhere from $200 to $750.

To reupholster one leather or vinyl seat, you will be looking on the higher end of that range. For polyester and nylon, a professional upholstery job will cost around $300 per seat. Typically, bucket seats and back bench seats cost more.

Protecting Your Car Seats: Tips to Extend Their Life

If you take care of your current car seats, you may not have to reupholster them at all. One of the best ways to keep your car seats clean is to buy some seat covers for your vehicle.

They can greatly extend the life of your car seats. They will keep severe stains and normal grime off the seats. When you remove them, it’ll feel like you have brand new seats in your car.

Another way to maintain your car seats is to clean them regularly. For leather seats, you should use a leather cleaner and conditioner to keep the seats soft and protected. For other materials, you can use a DIY solution with baking soda and vinegar to remove dirt.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How much does it cost to change car seats to leather?

The cost will vary depending on the type and how many seats you need to be reupholstered. For one leather seat, you might pay anywhere from $300 to $600. If it is a backbench seat or a bucket seat, then it will cost more.

Is it cheaper to reupholster or buy new?

It is generally cheaper to reupholster the seats, especially if you do it yourself—the fabric for reupholstering costs less than paying a professional to do it. Then, you only need to devote a few hours of your time.

How long does it take to reupholster a car seat?

It can take anywhere from 3 to 8 hours, depending on your knowledge of sewing and upholstery. We recommend setting aside at least a couple of days to complete a project like this.

Can you change cloth seats to leather?

You can change your cloth seats into leather or any other material you want. It might take more time to reupholster your car seats with leather, but the results are fantastic.


Here at Mechanic Scout, we spend hours researching and testing the latest automotive gear. We want to bring you the most accurate information to help you complete your projects. In this guide, we showed you everything you need to know how to reupholster your car seats and make them look brand new.