Building and Upholstering the Simple Barstool

A few days ago, I posted plans to build a Simple Barstool. I really needed one for my new sewing desk, so I designed plans to build one. The best part about these plans is the cost – I used ONE 8′ 2×4 (plus an 8″ scrap)  and a scrap piece of plywood to build this stool. That’s it. Seriously! I built this stool for less than $5.00!

building upholstering simple barstool

I like to buy 2x4s and rip them on my table saw. I have the hardest time finding 2x2s that are straight and not looking like a mini roller coaster. Plus, it is far more economical to buy a 2×4 for less than $3.00 and create two 2x2s! If you are interested, I created a post awhile ago about How to Cut a 2×4 in Half.

building upholstering simple barstool unfinished

Upholstering the barstool is a different story. Foam can be expensive so my excitement about my “cheap” barstool went out the window when I bought more foam for the seat. Still, a custom barstool in a color I like, with an upholstered seat that I like for less than $20.00 isn’t a bad deal!

So today, I’ll share the steps I used to upholster the seat but first, let’s take a minute to talk about the finish on my stool. I started out by using Minwax Express Color in Indigo. This is a pretty neat product but staining pine never looks right, and this color was no exception. It may look better over another species of wood but that is a project for a different day! Anyway, I wasn’t feeling this blue… It looked like it was involved in an accident with a Smurf.

building upholstering simple barstool blue stain

I am a HUGE fan of Rustoleum Wood Care Products. Rustoleum was kind enough to send a “care” package to me with stain and sealer to use. I decided to put a coat of Ultimate Wood Stain in Sunbleached over the blue…

building upholstering simple barstool grey stain on top  building upholstering simple barstool close up of stain

Wow! I love the results!! It looks like a worn pair of jeans!! Although regular stain on pine never works out, layering stain on pine produces some really beautiful results and Rustoleum stain really does a nice job. The pigments are so beautiful and my projects finished with the Wood Care products look so professional! I finished it off with a coat of Ultimate Polyurethane in Matte. It is easy to apply and dries very quickly, plus it is low odor. There is no sheen visible on the wood, and it makes it feel so smooth! This truly is the best stuff around!!

Ok, let’s get to the upholstery…


  • 4″ foam (or two 2″ pieces) measuring 11-1/2″ x 18-1/2″
  • Fabric for the seat
  • Staple gun & staples
  • Upholstery nails or trim (<– affiliate link!)

I bought two pieces of 2″ Nufoam. I’ve never used this particular product before so I thought I’d give it a try. Unfortunately, after I purchased it, I realized the foam was not long enough for my seat. The foam actually measures 15″ x 17″. Since I had to cut the foam down to 11-1/2″ (a bread knife makes foam cutting so much easier), I used the scrap to make the pieces longer. I made sure the “seams” of each piece did not line up with each other!

Position the foam on the seat, then lay the fabric over it. Starting at one end, staple the fabric in place – first in the middle, then at each end. Fill in between the gaps with staples.

building upholstering simple barstool fabric on seat  building upholstering simple barstool stapled fabric

Pull the fabric taut to the opposite side of the seat. Staple it down in the same manner.

Repeat the process for the sides. Before the gaps are filled in with staples, fold the corners  over and staple them down, then fill in the gaps.

building upholstering simple barstool corners of fabric on seat

building upholstering simple barstool stapling corners

Nailhead trim or upholstery trim can be used to cover the staples. I decided to use galvanized strap hanging tape for a cool look! I fastened it in place with upholstery nails.

building upholstering simple barstool using plumbers hanging tape as trim

Fasten the seat to the frame using countersunk 2″ screws.

Woo hoo! Perfect, if I say so myself!!

Have a plan request? Let me know at designsbystudioc [at] gmail [dot] com!

Until next time,

Happy Creating!

** I was not compensated in any way to mention the products I used in this project. The opinions are strictly my own. With the exception of the products I received from Rustoleum, the products used were purchased by me. Please don’t tell the kids I have money! ; ) **

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