Reupholstering a Piece of Furniture

Reupholstering a Piece of Furniture thumbnail
Measure the piece of furniture accurately so you purchase enough fabric.

When the time comes to reupholster a piece of furniture, knowing the technique allows you to complete the task yourself instead of seeking professional assistance. Exposed to rough usage and wear and tear, furniture fabric wears out sooner than the frame and padding. Replacing outdated, torn, soiled or stained fabric allows you to salvage the piece of furniture -- especially if it's an antique -- to personalize it and to save on professional costs.

Things You'll Need

  • Staple remover
  • Zipper bag
  • Wood adhesive
  • Wood putty
  • Staining or painting supplies
  • 2-inch-thick foam
  • Utility knife
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Muslin
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Colored chalk
  • Staple gun
  • Upholstery staples
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    • 1

      Remove the staples or tacks that secure the fabric sections to the frame with a staple remover. Pry the staples loose and collect them in a zipper bag as you work around each section. Try not to damage the fabric you remove, since it will form the pattern for the new fabric.

    • 2

      Repair any damage to the wood frame or the padding before covering the piece of furniture with new fabric. Join cracked frame sections with wood adhesive and insert wood putty between screw holes. Touch up sections of wood on the arms or legs where the stain or paint is fading with a fresh coat.

    • 3

      Remove worn out padding on the seat and replace it with high-density padding. Trace the shape of the seat’s baseboard on 2-inch-thick foam and cut around it with a utility knife. Glue the foam to the board and let it set for the time recommended on the label instructions.

    • 4

      Spread the new fabric right-side-down on a clean surface and center the old fabric patterns over it. If you accidentally tear a fabric pattern during its removal, drape muslin on the matching section of the furniture piece and trace its pattern. Add 2 inches around the pattern and cut it with scissors. Set this muslin pattern on the new fabric.

    • 5

      Pin the fabric patterns on the new fabric and outline their shapes with colored chalk. Remove the pins and fabric before cutting along the chalk marks with scissors.

    • 6

      Lay each fabric cutout on the corresponding part on the piece of furniture. Tuck the fabric in the edges of the frame and brush away wrinkles with your hand. Insert a row of staples to attach one edge of the fabric to the frame. Insert staples into the opposite edge of the fabric after pulling it taut. Repeat the process on the remaining sides to attach the fabric to this part of the furniture. Follow the same procedure to cover the inner back, seat, outer back, sides and arms of the furniture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Glue decorating piping over the seams to conceal them.

  • When covering a round edge, form a series of tiny pleats to give the piece of furniture a smooth look. Pull the fabric taut and form 1- to 2-inch pleats with your hand, from one end of the rounded edge to its middle. Insert a staple to the lower end of the furniture to secure the fabric in place. Start from the opposite end of the same edge and repeat the process of forming identical pleats.

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  • Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

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