Many people call us quite often saying that they have purchased a director’s chair from a yard or estate sale and it needs new canvas. Some chairs are considered heirlooms - "It was Mom's chair and we love it"... but it needs new covers!
The amazing thing about Director's Chairs is that they can last forever! These stylish and sturdy chairs have been around for just over 100 years now, so there are a lot of old, but perfectly serviceable and attractive, director’s chairs out there that need new covers.
Here is how to find the right canvas replacement, and how to install it.
The most important thing to know and remember is that there is NO STANDARD for director’s chair replacement covers. It is not like nuts and bolts with standard measurements. Manufacturers have made wide and narrow chairs, tall and short backs, etc. Don't despair though - it's easier than you might think to get it right. About 95% of the chairs out there use a couple of sizes available today; we gladly make custom size replacement covers for the other 5%!!
The best place to start is by checking for a manufacturer brand name stamped on the chair somewhere. A common place to look is under the arm rests; there might instead be a metal plate attached to the legs or seat rail. If you are able to find this, then you can do a search for the manufacturer and see if they sell replacements. This is the quickest and most sure way to get the right dimensions for your chair's new covers, saving time and expense. The dimensions are usually found on the website; if not call customer service. If the dimensions you have measured are not exactly what they have, don't worry. It only has to be close, say +/- one inch. That applies mainly to the seat canvas width, which determines if you will be able to open the chair (too narrow) or the fabric will sag too much and possibly come out when sat in (too wide).
Next, do you have a Flat Stick, or a Round stick Director's Chair? How do you know? The flat stick seat fabric is normally wider than the round stick, because the sticks set into the outside edge of the seat rail.
Please refer to the illustration below showing how the canvas attaches into the seat rail.
Round Stick Directors Chair Frame
A standard Round Stick insert type, where the the canvas slides into a round slot in the frame. As shown below:
Flat Stick Directors Chair Frame
A typical Flat Stick insert type, will usually rest in a groove on the outer edges of the frame. As show below:
Remember the golden rule of director’s chairs? "There is NO STANDARD"
If the representative tells you they have a "One size fits all" then reconsider, or be sure to ask about the return policy in case you have to send it back.
If you are unsure of the manufacturer, or the manufacturer does not offer replacement covers, you will need to know the dimensions of the canvas your chair requires. If you have the old fabric, then it is easy to measure the seat and back canvas. Lay them out flat, pressing down flat the loops on the back canvas. Just measure from edge to edge, including the area for the sticks.
- Open the chair frame and lock the brace on the legs.
- Have one person push the two seat rails together with medium force
- Measure to the outside of the slots.
REMEMBER, that well-worn fabric has probably stretched over time. If you don't have the fabric, then it will take two people to do the measurement:
- If you have determined that you have a Telescope chair, we can help with that too. We can make your replacement cover to measurements specific to Telescope Casual, no sweat!
For round stick canvas, you will add about an inch to account for the two stick loops.
The hardest part is done - you have your measurements! All that is left to do now is select your fabric and color, and that's where EverywhereChair shines. We only use high quality 15 oz. cotton canvas, available in 12 different colors and patterns. We also offer Sunbrella, a marine grade acrylic fabric guaranteed not to stretch or fade, in over 15 stock colors. Special order colors can be accommodated for a small fee. Another popular fabric available to you is Phifertex Mesh. This vinyl fabric is a good choice for chairs that will be in a humid environment, or will receive heavy use. Phifertex stock colors are attractive and blend well.
You should now be able to confidently order your director’s chair replacement set (it will include the seat and back canvas and the sticks) and start thinking about where you are going to put your handsome new director’s chairs. This might also be a good time to refinish the chair frame. If you do, be careful not to put finish in the slots where the canvas will go. When your package arrives, check your order for accuracy and then get the chairs ready for new canvas.
Here's how to install them:
- Insert the sticks in the seat loops
- Open the chair frame about half way so you have slack to put the canvas on
- Slide the seat evenly on both sides into the seat rail slot. Even up the front of the canvas with the chair front.
- Slide the back canvas over the posts and leave about a half inch of post at the top
- open the chair all the way, pushing apart the seat rails
- STEP ON THE BRACES TO PUSH THEM DOWN AND LOCK THEM INTO PLACE
- This is so important because if not fully opened and locked, the seat may appear too small.
In reality, the chair is made so that the seat fabric locks the braces into place and everything is in tension. That is how you want the chair to be. The back will pull the armrests in so that they push down hard on the seat rails, keeping the canvas from coming out of the slots. It also will most likely rip at the seams if the seat is not taut.
Replacing the canvas on your director’s chairs is a great way to be eco-friendly; Vintage is In! Retro and upcycling has become a mainstay in today’s world of design. Old chair frames can be found on Ebay, yard sales, estate sales, etc. When you find a frame, be sure that the joints are solid - that is the first place where a director chair will show wear. It won't be long before you are swaying back and forth, not good when you are in a tall director’s chair, 30" off the ground!
Good luck on refurbishing those old chairs and call us any time if you have questions.