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If your RV has a dining booth, you may at some point need or want to reupholster the bench seats, possibly because the old covers have become stained or worn, or because you think the original fabric is ugly and want to update and personalize your camper with a style makeover.
In this article, I'll share options for easily replacing or covering the cushion covers. On a budget? Don't worry, I've got you “covered”! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)
Where to Buy New Foam for RV Cushions
If you remove the old covers and find that the foam needs to be replaced, maybe because it is falling apart or has an old musty smell, you can purchase new foam. Here are some places to buy foam, either custom sized or a larger piece that you cut to the size you need:
Types of Fabric to Use for Making DIY RV Cushion Covers
As you're choosing fabric to use for recovering your dining booth cushions, here are some options to consider:
- Canvas drop cloths – Canvas painter's drop cloths are a popular choice with a lot of RV owners because they are very cheap for the amount of fabric you get. You can even dye them to be whatever color you want if you're not a fan of the beige color. However, they are a very loose weave, and not designed to hold up to a lot of wear and tear, so if you will be living in your RV full time, you might want to consider a more durable type of fabric. See the photo below for a picture of some super cute dining booth benches recovered with drop cloth fabric. 🙂
- Decorator's Upholstery Fabric – You can find heavy duty upholstery fabric at a fabric shop such as Jo-Ann or a craft shop such as Michael's or Hobby Lobby. It is designed to withstand a lot of wear. However, it may also show dirt easily, so unless you're making cushion covers that can be removed and laundered, you might want to choose a more stain-resistant fabric.
- Blackout Curtains – I like purchasing blackout curtains for use in small upholostery projects because you get a lot of fabric for the price (two full length panels usually cost around $15) and they are made from a heavy-duty, synthetic fabric with a rubber backing, making them easier to wipe clean and a little more resistant to spills.
- Outdoor Fabric – If you have kids or pets and end up making no-sew covers that can't easily be removed and laundered, you might want to consider using waterproof outdoor fabric as it is designed to be water resistant. You can also spray it with Scotch Guard as extra reinforcement.
- Anti-Slip / Non-Skid Fabric – A professional RV renovator once shared with me this clever tip: Use “grippy” non-skid fabric (the kind with tiny rubber dots like what's used for the soles of footed pajama feet) for the bottoms of seat cushions to help them stay in place and prevent them from sliding off the benches.
Option #1: Sew New RV Cushion Covers
If you're handy with a sewing machine, making new covers for the cushions in your camper might be a fun project for you. Here are a few tutorials you can compare:
- How to Sew RV Bench Cushions
- How to Refinish an Ugly Booth Dinette
- How to Reupholster RV Cushions
- Cushion Reupholstery Using Drop Cloths (Instagram Stories)
I would recommend choosing a pattern that includes adding a zipper, Velcro, or some other way to remove the covers so they can be washed if needed.
- Easy to remove and wash if you add a zipper or Velcro
- Look very professional if you are good at sewing 🙂
- You can use any type of fabric you want
- More work to make
- You have to know how to sew (or know someone else who does)
Option #2: Make New Covers Using Glue Instead of Sewing
If you don't know how to sew (or don't want to sew) but still want the look of custom sewn covers, you could try following one of the sewing tutorials above but instead of sewing, using fabric glue or hot glue to close the seams. I don't think I would try to install a zipper this way, but you could probably add a Velcro closure using hot glue. Professional RV renovator Sarah Lemp shares on her blog how she recovered camper cushions using a hot glue gun, and hers turned out really cute.
- Fast, cheap, and easy
- Look really cute
- Glue is usually permanent, so you'll want to be careful not to make mistakes while gluing
- Glued covers might not be easy to remove and wash
Option #3: Pin New Fabric to Old Cushions
Instead of making removable covers or gluing fabric directly to the cushions, some RV owners have used safety pins to attach fabric to the old cushion covers. You can see a couple examples of this technique through the links below:
One concern I have with using just safety pins is that repeatedly sitting on the cushions may pull on the fabric and cause the safety pins to bend or come unfastened, but I haven't heard whether the people who used them experienced this or not.
I love this clever idea RVer Erin Olsen came up with, which was to use mattress clips to hold the fabric in place and then tuck in the ends and pin them in place. That way there's a little more give in the fabric due to the elastic, and there aren't quite so many safety pins to undo if you need to take off the covers and wash them.
- Cheap and easy
- Fabric can be removed and laundered if needed
- Easily to change back to the original factory look if you later sell your RV to someone who doesn't like your style
- The fabric is a bit looser on the cushions
- Doesn't look as good on the bottom (which won't show, but I know some people would be bothered by this!)
- Could be a safety hazard if you have small kids
Option #4: Staple Fabric to a Plywood Base
One very popular technique for recovering dining booth cushions is to cut a piece of plywood the same size as the cushion (or a little smaller) and then wrap fabric around the whole thing and staple the fabric to the plywood.
Here are some tutorials for this method:
- Reupholster RV Cushions…Without Sewing!
- How to Reupholster Camper Cushions: A No-Sew Method
- How to Cover Camper Cushion With a Dropcloth (video)
The biggest drawback to this method is that the fabric can't be easily removed and washed if it gets dirty, so if you have kids or pets you might want to consider another option, or use a type of fabric that is easy to clean and stain resistant (such as waterproof outdoor fabric designed for patio cushions).
- Very easy
- No sewing required
- You can pull the fabric nice and tight, giving a neat, finished appearance
- You have to purchase the plywood (so possibly more expensive)
- You have to be able to cut the plywood (requires the use of power tools)
- Fabric is not easy to remove and wash if it gets dirty
Option #5: Use Crib Sheets Fastened with Mattress Clips
Some RV owners have found that bassinet sheets are the perfect size to fit their camper cushions. Sheets that are slightly too large can be made to fit using mattress clips to hold them in place. You can also find crib sheets in lots of colors some really cute patterns.
- Easy to remove and wash if needed
- No DIY skills required
- May not fit your dining booth cushions if your dinette is an unusual size
- The corners and ends might not look as neat unless the sheets happen to be a perfect fit
Option #6: Tuck Fabric Without Attaching it to the Cushions
A friend of mine who wanted to update the look of the dinette cushions in her RV didn't even bother to reupholster the cushions. Instead she just draped a large painter's drop cloth over her U-shaped dinette and tucked the excess fabric into the cracks. She says she likes how easy it is to pull the whole thing off and launder it.
- Quick and cheap
- No sewing, gluing, or stapling required
- Easy to launder
- You might be constantly re-tucking the fabric to keep it looking nice, especially if you have kids or pets constantly climbing all over them. 🙂
Option #7: Purchase New Covers for Your Dinette Cushions
Last but not least, another reupholstery option instead of making new cushion covers yourself is to simply buy new covers for your RV cushions.
Here's a stretch-to-fit cushion cover that's fairly affordable and comes in lots of colors if it happens to be the right size.
There are also lots of Etsy sellers who make custom RV cushion covers in your choice of fabric. Of course you'll pay more than if you were to make them yourself, but you'll also (hopefully) end up with exactly what you want without having to worry about them looking like a “Pinterest Fail” if DIY projects are not your forte!
- Easier to buy than DIY
- Might result in a more professional looking result (depending on your skill level)
- More expensive
- Fewer fabric options
Have you reupholstered RV dining booth cushions? If so, which technique did you use? Leave a comment below to let me know!
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