How to Reupholster a Couch or Sofa

Written by nikki cash
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How to Reupholster a Couch or Sofa
Reupholster a sofa or couch to salvage a handcrafted wooden frame. (Abandoned couch image by MAXFX from

Reupholstering an old sofa or couch can preserve an antique frame and salvage a handcrafted frame that is hard to come by today. Furniture is mass-produced and can quickly deteriorate over time and usage. The frame of a sofa or couch is often the most important part of the furniture because it determines the value, comfort, quality and lifespan. Reupholstering can also renew an old piece of furniture and brighten up a drab room, while saving on the cost of buying a new sofa or couch.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Batting
  • Rubber mallet
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Welting/trim (optional)
  • Glue gun (optional)
  • Glue sticks (optional)
  • Camera (recommended)

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  1. 1

    Remove the staples and upholstery tacks from the couch/sofa using needle-nose pliers.

  2. 2

    Gently pull off the fabric from the couch/sofa to avoid tearing the upholstery because it will be used as a template for the new upholstery fabric.

  3. 3

    Remove the batting from the couch/sofa's arms, backing, and seats.

  4. 4

    Insert new batting into the couch/sofa's arms, backing, and cushions. Tack it down with upholstery tacks and hammer it into place with a rubber mallet.

  5. 5

    Lay the old fabric on top of new fabric. Then cut around the old fabric, leaving 2 to 3 inches of overhang on all sides.

  6. 6

    Place the fabric over the back of the couch/sofa and pull the sides tautly against the frame. Staple the fabric into the frame with a staple gun.

  7. 7

    Drape the fabric over the seats of the couch/sofa and tuck the fabric under the frame, until tight. Pleat the seats and staples into place.

  8. 8

    Lay the fabric over the arms of the chair. Fold the back of the fabric, the section closest to the chair's back, one-third of the way forward. Cut a slit in the middle of the fold and wrap the cut ends and around the arms, where the wood is exposed. Tuck any loose ends in between the frames and staple it securely in the same manner the previous fabric was attached.

  9. 9

    Apply welting to the seams of the couch/sofa to add a decorative trim if desired. Purchase desired trim at a fabric store and fix it into the seams by applying small amounts of hot glue. Work slowly and in small sections to avoid staining the fabric. Work with a high temperature glue gun with heavy duty glue sticks for maximum adhesion.

Tips and warnings

  • Take pictures of the chair as it is being pulled apart to used as a reference for the placement of the tacks, staples, and position of the fabrics.

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