Revamp your workstation with a cheery fabric-covered desk.

How to Cover a Desk With Fabric

by Anne Goetz

There's a bright and cozy way to bring that old battle-scarred desk back to life using a yard or two of your favorite fabric and a piece of acrylic. If you've coveted that ultramodern trend toward all-acrylic office furniture, but just can't quite commit, try creating your own combined design that mixes a chic acrylic top with decorative hardware and soft, pretty fabric. Use a temporary spray adhesive to make the whole thing interchangeable.

Sand the top of your desk well with sandpaper. Use a soft, damp cloth to remove the dust and allow the surface to dry.

Measure and cut your fabric to fit the desk top. Add about 1 inch all around. Press it gently with an iron set to the temperature recommended by the fabric manufacturer.

Using the instructions on the packaging, carefully coat the desktop with spray fabric adhesive. Buy a fabric adhesive that allows you to reposition your fabric once or twice.

Beginning in a corner, apply the fabric to the desktop, leaving about an inch of overhang. Work it with a wallpaper smoother as you go to remove wrinkles and air bubbles. At the end, you should have a slight fabric overlap on all sides. Once the desk is completely covered, allow it to dry overnight.

Polish your acrylic sheet to remove fingerprints and, handling it only by the edges, center it on the desktop, shiny side up. If possible, hold the sheeting in place with a clamp attached along each side. Apply small pieces of masking tape in each corner over the areas you intend to drill. Use a ruler to measure in from each corner. Mark the spot with a pencil on top of the tape.

Use a drill with a small bit to drill a pilot hole through the masking tape, acrylic and desktop. Drill again using larger and larger bits until you have a hole large enough to insert the screw tightly. Repeat the process at each corner. Remove the masking tape before putting the screws in.

Position the rubber cup of the decorative screw cap cover set over the hole and insert the screw through the middle, down through the acrylic and into the desktop. Repeat for all four corners. Afer you have secured the screws, snap the decorative covers into place over the cups.

Pull the overhanging fabric out straight and carefully run a utility knife with a new blade along it, using the acrylic as a straightedge. Trim the fabric on all four sides in this manner.

Carefully sand the edges of the acrylic sheet to remove any sharp edges. Wipe with a dry cloth.

Items you will need

  • Medium-grit sandpaper, #60
  • Damp cloth
  • Fabric
  • Iron
  • Spray fabric adhesive
  • Wallpaper smoother
  • Hard acrylic sheet, 1/4 inch thick, cut to size of desktop
  • 2 to 4 clamps
  • Masking tape
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Drill with various size bits for drilling into acrylic
  • 4 wood screws, size 9
  • 4 decorative screw cover sets
  • Utility knife with new blade


  • When you tire of your patterned desktop, simply remove the decorative screw covers, take out the screws and lay the acrylic top aside. Gently pull the old fabric off, glue a new one in its place and reassemble.


  • Take care when drilling through acrylic. Wear protective eyewear and a dust mask and handle the shavings with gloves.

About the Author

Anne Goetz shares her parenting and career experience with North American Parent, Hagerstown Magazine,, and a variety of other online and print publications. A mother of two with a degree in communications and a long history in management, Goetz spends her spare time hiking, camping and blogging. She is the author of the site, An Unedited Life: The Ultimate Blog for Freelance Writers.

Photo Credits

  • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images