4 Simple Steps to Reupholstering Your RV Dinette

Oct 5, 2022 | Maintenance & Mods

4 Simple Steps to Reupholstering Your RV Dinette

This DIY tutorial makes a big impact—plus, there’s no sewing required.

By Renee Tilby

Photo: Renee Tilby

Do you want to change the look of your RV dinette, but sewing covers is intimidating and buying something new is out of your budget? We’ve got you covered with this easy, no-sew dinette cushion tutorial. We’ve successfully used this technique on dozens of client RV renovations and are sharing tricks and tips to help you easily transform your dinette.

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an rv kitchen dinette set before renovations
Cushions before reupholstering. | Photo: Renee Tilby


For this project, we’re recovering just the top cushions on the dinette since the bottom ones are a nice, neutral color. Here’s what we used for just the top cushions; if you’re recovering both the top and bottom cushions of a large U-shaped dinette, then double the amount. 

  • 4 yards of upholstery fabric 
  • Half sheet of ¼-inch underlayment wood/luan board
  • Heavy-duty staple gun
  • ⅜ to ½-inch staples
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure, preferably a soft, fabric-style one

Step 1: Choosing Materials

We typically use outdoor or vinyl upholstery fabric because of their durability, but any decently-heavy upholstery fabric works well. You can buy upholstery fabric at any craft or fabric store (check the sale rack or use coupons), or online on Amazon or Fabric.com. 

Choose a fabric color and design scheme that complements the existing finishes in your RV. Select a fabric durability that will withstand the level of use you will put it through. Then, set your budget and have fun looking through all of the choices.

After you’ve purchased your fabric, it’s time to buy your wood backing. You can purchase ¼-inch sheet wood at any home improvement store, and if you don’t have a table saw or a jig saw available to you, take your measurements to the store and have them cut the sheet of wood for you. Look for underlayment or luan sheet wood—it’s fairly inexpensive.

a fabric measuring tape wrapped around the back of an upholstered cushion
Photo: Renee Tilby

Step 2: Cutting Your Materials

Now that you have your supplies and materials, it’s time to start cutting. The sheet wood is what allows this to be a no-sew project. It’s used to attach the upholstery fabric with the staples. You’ll need one piece of wood per cushion that you want to reupholster. Cut the wood 2 inches shorter than the cushion in both width and length. So, if your cushion is 20 inches by 40 inches, cut your board to be 18 inches by 38 inches.

After you’ve cut your sheets of wood to size, center them on the backs of the cushions. Take your soft tape measure and measure around the cushion, measuring 2 inches into the wood on both sides. If your measurements are 22 inches from one side of the wood, around the cushion, and back to the other side of the wood, then cut your fabric to 26 inches wide, giving 2 inches of excess fabric on both sides of the wood. Do the same to get the measurement for the length of the fabric. 

a black staple gun sits on the back of an upholstered striped gray and white cushion partially stapled to a piece of plywood
Photo: Renee Tilby

Step 3: Time to Staple

With your staple gun loaded, center your fabric, fold the edge over a half inch, pull the fabric slightly taut, and start stapling. Place a staple every 1 to 2 inches in order to keep the fabric looking cohesive. Press firmly while stapling to ensure that the staples go in all the way. If you have a staple that isn’t flush with the wood or one that you don’t like the placing of, use a small flathead screwdriver and pry it out. This is a pretty forgiving project, and mistakes are easy to fix.

After you’ve finished with one end, staple the opposing end. This keeps the fabric from shifting and pulling at a diagonal. 

the corner of a cushion upholstered with a gray and white striped fabric
Photo: Renee Tilby

Step 4: Folding the Corners

Before you start on the sides, fold the corners. The easiest way to do this is by folding it like you would a present. Take the corner and fold it in toward the unstapled side, creating a 45-degree angle with the loose fabric sitting on the table. Then fold the loose fabric up to the wood and staple it, making sure to fold over the raw edge and pull it taut. Do this for all corners, keeping in mind that you may need to pull the staple that’s holding the corner in place to readjust it later.

Now that your two ends and corners are done, you can staple the sides, starting at one of the corners and working to another. Remember to fold over your raw edge so that the fabric won’t fray.

Once you’ve finished your first cushion, repeat the steps for the remaining cushions.

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a kitchen nook in an rv with upholstered cushions and a dining table
Cushions after reupholstering. | Photo: Renee Tilby

Pro Tips for Reupholstering Your RV Dinette

  • Outdoor upholstery fabric is typically more durable than traditional outdoor fabric.
  • Use two complementary fabrics, one for the top cushions and a different fabric for the bottom cushions to create a pleasing aesthetic. This allows you to use bold fabrics that might be too busy if used on the whole dinette.
  • Use staples that are longer than the thickness of your backing board. This decreases the chances of the board shifting during the project.
  • Use vinyl upholstery fabric if you want fabric that’s easily cleaned.
  • Get a few fabric swatches to test what looks good with your existing finishes. 

Other RV Dinette Upgrades

If you don’t want to recover your dinette cushions yourself, you have a few other options. Many RV supply stores sell replacement cushions in a variety of sizes and styles, giving you an updated look without any of the work. You can also have your cushions reupholstered professionally by a local company, or by hiring an individual on an app like Thumbtack. Another option is to get outdoor furniture cushions from a local or online decor store. 

Whatever route you take, upgrading your RV dinette cushions will make a big impact on the look and feel of your RV interior. 

DinetteRV MaintenanceRV ModsRV reno

Renee Tilby

Renee and her family of seven live full-time in their RV. They've been on the road for more than 4 years, renovating RVs and the occasional home along the way. They love to find hidden gems everywhere they go and consider nature the absolute best place to do that.