Lawn mower seats are designed to handle all kinds of abuse, but many seasons of exposure to sun and moisture will take their toll. Lumpy padding is one sign of a lawn mower seat in need of repair. Tears and holes in the cover are even worse: they allow moisture to enter the foam cushion, causing mildew and soaking the seat of your pants. Fortunately, you can easily reupholster your lawnmower seat if you follow the steps below.
Step 1: Take Apart the Seat Assembly
Most lawn mower seats consist of foam glued to a fiberglass base, known as a “pan,” attached to an adjustable metal mount. The details differ according to manufacturer and model. Make note of the latches, screws, and bolt locations on the pan. If your mower has a backrest, you’ll find one pan for the seat and another for the backrest.
After you free the pan from the mount, you’ll see where the vinyl cover has been stretched over the foam and stapled to the bottom of the pan. Loosen the staples with a flathead screwdriver or pliers and pull them out. Should you find rivets instead of staples, simply cut away the cover around the rivets, and leave them in place. Peel away the cover to reveal the shaped foam cushion.
Step 2: Repair or Replace the Foam
At the very least, your foam will be in need of patching. Pack chunks of rebond foam into dents and divots in the seat padding. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly even. When you replace the seat cover, any small bumps will get evened out. If the foam is badly worn, make note of the height and width at several points, tear it off the pan and attach a new block of foam with spray adhesive. Open-cell rebond foam is fine for most applications, but if you expect to store the mower under damp conditions, use a closed-cell foam product.
Cut the foam with sharp utility blades, or saw away with an old steak knife. Use a bandsaw to make large cuts. The seat cover will lose support over any concave areas in the foam, so keep the shape as convex as possible.
Step 3: Stretch a New Seat Cover
You’ll need to use a weather-resistant material for your new seat cushion upholstery. You can use marine-grade vinyl with a slip-resistant leather-like texture. Synthetic canvas is another possibility-you can even use pieces from old outdoor furniture upholstery. Cut a piece of cover material for your seat, leaving plenty of overlap. Lay the cover face down on your worktable, and position the seat in the center, pan side up. Fold over the cover and put in a staple. (If the fiberglass pan resists the staples, switch to carpet tacks or pop rivets.) On the side opposite your first staple, firmly stretch the cover until you feel the foam compress, using pliers if necessary, and staple down the cover at this end. Work around the pan, pulling the cover tight and stapling it down. Your staples should be no more than ½-inch apart from one another. When you’re satisfied that the cover is evenly stretched, trim away any excess material.
Re-attach the seat to your mower’s mount, and you’re done!