How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (2024)

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1Removing the Old Upholstery

2Assembling the New Upholstery

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Last Updated: November 5, 2020References

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Re-upholstering furniture is a great way to personalize mass-produced furniture or furniture whose upholstery has seen better days. The process can be difficult, but it's definitely worth it, especially if you like DIY projects. With a little help and a little know-how, this project and be fun and constructive.

Method 1

Method 1 of 2:

Removing the Old Upholstery

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  1. How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (4)

    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. Just because the fabric on an old couch has seen better days doesn't mean the couch needs to be consigned to the junk heap. There are riches to be found here.[1]

  2. How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (5)

    2

    Select a couch that fits your taste. At the very least, find a couch that is of a style that can be molded to something enjoyable by the time it is completed.[2]

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  3. How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (6)

    3

    Take pictures of the couch pre-upholstery. Take pictures of how the couch looks before you tear it apart, and especially all through the process of "destroying it." Take pictures inside and out, front and back. Take closeup pictures of any area that might be difficult.

    • Couches are not complex pieces of machinery, but this sort of project can take a long time, so it's good to have a nice "photographic memory" for referencing. You never know when you'll need to go back and piece something together about what the couch was like before you ripped its fabric off.
  4. How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (7)

    4

    Carefully take the couch apart in the following order. While taking the couch's fabric off, take care not to damage the old cover or other parts that will be needed later, such as stuffing. Otherwise, remove the fabric in the following order:

    • With the sofa upside down or on its back, take off the dust-clothes and all the fabric around the bottom.
    • Turn the sofa upright and take off the outside back, the outside arms, the inside back, the inside arms and the deck.
    • If the old cover fits well, you can use it as a pattern to cut your new fabric. Keep the old cover around until you finish the sofa so that you can refer to it as needed.
  5. 5

    Inspect the cushions for compromised filling material. See if any filling material will need to be replaced once the couch has been stripped down. If the sofa needs new cushion filling, purchase high-quality foam (2.5 lb to 3 lb.), which will last for many years. Cheap foam quickly breaks down.

    • High-quality foam can get very expensive, very quickly — its cost is tied to the cost of petroleum, out of which its made — but don't skimp out, or else the couch will be great looking, but also saggy and uncomfortable couch.
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Method 2

Method 2 of 2:

Assembling the New Upholstery

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  1. How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (10)

    1

    Use your pictures as a guide. As you create and put the new cover on you may want to to consult the "photographic memory" compiled from before the couch was taken apart, or to ask for advice from a more experienced person.

  2. How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (11)

    2

    Cut your Fabric. Find a large flat area (a large table or the floor) to roll out and cut your fabric. Use the old cover as a pattern to cut the fabric. Lay the old cover pieces on the new fabric, rearranging the pieces on top of the fabric as necessary to save fabric.

    • On seamed edges cut 1/2" from the old seam.
    • On stapled edges add 2-3" more, which will be used to pull the fabric cover onto the sofa.
  3. How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (12)

    3

    Sew your fabric. Older heavy duty metal sewing machines work better and hold up longer than the new lightweight plastic machines. Use the zipper foot to sew along the welting edges. Use heavy duty thread and a heavy needle to sew the fabric. Use a 1/2" seam allowance.

  4. How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (13)

    4

    Get a heavy-duty staple gun to attach the new fabric to the couch. If you don't have one, purchase a good-quality staple gun, and go to town.[3]

  5. How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (14)

    5

    Start attaching the new material from the inside out. First attach the sofa deck, then the inside arms, and the inside back, in that order. No matter which way you are attaching the fabric, be sure to pull the fabric snug as you attach it, or it will stretch over time.[4]

    • When the inside is attached, fit and sew the cushion(s). If the cushions are a little too big or too small, you can adjust the size of the cushion area by loosening or tightening the bottom of the inside arms and inside back. Then attach the outside arms and the outside back.
  6. How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (15)

    6

    Take pride in your achievements once the couch is finished. Perhaps the most important thing to do is show it off.

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  • Question

    My cushions are very firm, with rigid foam. How can I create a softer, more comfy feel/look?

    How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (16)

    Community Answer

    You can remove the fabric and wrap the foam with polyester quilting batting from a sewing store. It comes in rolls and in differing thicknesses, but the thicker it is, the larger it will make the cushion, with a tighter fit back into the fabric cover.

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  • Question

    Do I have to remove the old upholstery before I can begin with the reupholstery?

    How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (17)

    Community Answer

    No, if you are able to measure and sew new covers without removing the old, you can cover right over the old if you want to. I've done it, but I recommend making sure that your outer fabric is thick enough so that the fabric below doesn't show through.

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  • Question

    How do I attach decorative buttons on the cushions?

    How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (18)

    Community Answer

    Buttons are attached using a long, thick needle that can penetrate through the entire piece (particularly finished cushions comprised of fabric and foam). You can also just attach it firmly to the outside fabric using a normal method. The method whereby you go right through the foam makes a nice indent and ensures the button doesn't get caught on things.

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      Tips

      • Use thick fabric. Couches are sat on, jumped on, spilled on, scrubbed, moved, slept on, etc. Purchase thick, durable fabric.[5]

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      • 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 expensive and may make your project cost-ineffective.

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      • Do it right -- do it once. It is worth spending a little more money for good material.

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      Warnings

      • Older and antique furniture may have foam that is extremely flammable, or that burns at an extremely high temperature.

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      About This Article

      wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 18 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 939,473 times.

      100 votes - 85%

      Co-authors: 18

      Updated: November 5, 2020

      Views:939,473

      Categories: Couches and Sofas | Upholstery

      Article SummaryX

      To reupholster a couch, start by removing the old fabric, starting at the bottom of the sofa and working your way up. Next, cut out pieces of fabric that correspond with each section of the couch using the old fabric as a guide. Then, sew the seams together with a sewing machine and heavy duty thread. Finally, attach the fabric to the couch with a staple gun, working from the innermost parts of the couch outward. For tips on replacing the cushions on your couch when you reupholster it, read on!

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      How to Reupholster a Couch: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (2024)

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