Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to Reupholster a Couch

Reupholstering furniture can be a great way to personalize mass-produced furniture. The process can be difficult, but if you are a do-it-yourselfer it can be done. Get some help from this article and get started on that couch today!
  1. Find the right couch. Believe it or not, most furniture is designed to be re-upholstered, just as cars are designed to be worked on.
  2. Select a couch that fits your taste, or is of a style that can be molded to something enjoyable by the time it is completed.
  3. Take a few pictures of how the couch looked before you tear it apart, and especially during the process of "destroying it." Couches are not complex pieces of machinery, but this sort a project can last a long time, so it's good to have a nice "photographic memory" for referencing.
  4. Carefully take the couch apart, being cautious not to damage parts that will be needed later, such as stuffing. It may be beneficial to keep the material that is removed from your couch to use as a template for the new material.
  5. Inspect the cushions to see if any filling material will need to be replaced once the couch has been stripped down. This can get very expensive, very quickly, but don't skimp out, or the couch will be great looking, but also saggy and uncomfortable couch.
  6. Use the same materials to attach the new fabric to the couch as the old fabric. If it is staples, purchase a good-quality staple gun, and "go to town." No matter which way you are attaching the fabric, be sure to stretch the fabric as you attach it, or it will stretch over time.The fabric on the couch was most likely attached to it using either upholstery nails, or staples. Even if the couch has upholstery nails, they are most likely mostly aesthetic, and the majority of the fabric would still be attached using staples. While upholstery nails look nice, they are tedious to put into place.
  7. Rely on your intuition to figure out the best place to start attaching the new fabric. If the couch is designed so that a layer of fabric will lay over another part, it is a good idea to upholster the underlying part first. This may be a good time to consult the "photographic memory" compiled from before the couch was taken apart, or to ask for advice from a more experienced person.
  8. Take pride in your achievements once the couch is finished. Perhaps the most important thing to do is show it off.


  • Often, part of re-upholstering is making new cushions. If you are purchasing furniture to re-upholster, a good rule of thumb is find furniture that should not require new filling material. Foam, and other cushion materials can be very spendy, and may make your project not cost effective.
  • If there is sewing that needs to be done, it may be best to wait until the last minute to do it, in case any of the following are changed: fabrics, cushion thickness, colors, wood stains, etc. If the sewing is to be done yourself, use the old cushions as templates--they were designed to fit the couch.
  • Do it right--do it once. It is worth spending a little more money for good material.
  • Find fabric on sale.
  • Use thick fabric. Couches are sat on, jumped on, spilled on, scrubbed, moved, slept on, etc. Purchase thick, durable fabric.
  • Furniture is unique. Even professional upholsters have to learn by hard knocks. Some things you can only learn and get right by doing them wrong a couple times--couches, unfortunately, often fit into that that category.
  • Try to find furniture that will not require a lot of sewing on your part.
  • For wood trimming: Solid woods can be re-stained for a lighter, darker, or different color finish. If you are going to re-finish the wood, remove the upholstery and as much other material as possible before staining.


  • Older and antique furniture may have foam that is extremely flammable, or that burns at an extremely high temperature.
Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Reupholster a Couch. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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