How to Upholster an Armrest

by Liza Hollis

If you have a damaged, unsightly armrest in your car you do not need to have it fixed by a professional car detailer. With some ordinary household tools and the replacement fabric of your choice, you can restore your car's armrest during an afternoon project.


Remove the armrest from the chair with a screwdriver. Save your screws, if they are not stripped, so they can be replaced later. If your screws are stripped, use the size as a guide to be sure you replace them with the exact same size and shape screw. The wrong screws may cause your armrest to work incorrectly.


Heat your upholstery material in direct sunlight or with a hair dryer. If you are using vinyl material to recover your armrest, pre-heating will help your vinyl to move and stretch as needed to upholster your armrest. Only a brief amount of direct heat is needed to make it pliable and easy to use.


Replace any upholstery foam as needed. If your armrest has become lumpy and misshapen over time, it can be replaced easily with a piece of 2-inch upholstery foam cut to size. Use a spray adhesive to attach your foam directly to the armrest frame.


Position your upholstery material over your armrest. Pull the material taut over the edges of your armrest and underneath to touch the frame directly. Staple your material directly to the underside of the frame. Cut off any excess material.


Walk your fabric along the corners or curved areas of your armrest inch by inch, using a hair dryer if necessary to make the fabric more pliable. If your material does not lay flat around curved areas, consider cutting short vertical slits to fold over and help the material rest properly. Replace the armrest once you have finished reupholstering.

Items you will need

About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera car open image by buddelchen from