How to use upholstery tacks & trim

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether re-covering your grandmother's rocking chair or updating a piece of furniture that you found at a garage sale, an upholstering project can be a satisfying do-it-yourself undertaking. In addition, while some upholsterers may charge hundreds or thousands of dollars to upholster a piece of furniture, you can save money by covering the furniture yourself. Although upholstering a chair can seem daunting, it is actually fairly simple. In addition to sewing and stapling, you will also need to learn how to use upholstery tacks and trim.

Pull covering fabric taut over the wooden base to which you plan to tack your upholstery.

Place the upholstery tack through the fabric and onto the point to which the tack will attach.

Seat the tack with a few taps of the mallet.

Drive the tack in place with two or three firmer taps with the mallet. If you are using decorative upholstery tacks, take care not to damage the appearance of the tack.

Measure the length of the seams that the trim will cover with a measuring tape. Measure your trim to the same length. Add about 8 cm (a few inches) to account for waste.

Apply trim with glue to wooden surfaces or the heads of non-decorative tacks and staples to secure it in place.


When using trim to cover stapled surfaces, nuy piping instead of flat trim. Piping has a selvedge edge that can be tucked into the seam of the project and stapled in place as the project is stapled. The piping will then fold over to cover the staples.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber mallet
  • Upholstery tacks
  • Upholstery staples
  • Upholstery staple gun
  • Trim
  • Measuring tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
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About the Author

Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.