Do It Yourself: Reupholster

Written by catherine scruggs, m.a.
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Do It Yourself: Reupholster
There are rules of thumb for buying the right amount of fabric. (Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

When learning to reupholster, choose a simple piece of furniture without complex folds, buttons and piping. Select upholstery fabric that is thick in fibres and durable for wear and tear. Remove the old upholstery, but remember where and how it is attached to the furniture's frame. Doing so is key to successfully reupholstering furniture. Beginners should start with reupholstering footstools, benches, bar stools and chairs with cushioned bottoms, since they are the easiest projects.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Staple gun staple remover
  • Hammer
  • Fabric scissors
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Staple gun

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    Preparation Phase

  1. 1

    Choose a piece of furniture. The most simple pieces of furniture to reupholster are bar stools, benches, footstools and chairs with cushioned bottoms.

    Do It Yourself: Reupholster
    Simple pieces of furniture, like footstools, make reupholstering easy. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  2. 2

    Select upholstery fabric that matches the colour scheme of the room. Upholstery fabric is thick and durable.

    Do It Yourself: Reupholster
    Choose upholstery fabric that matches your decor. (Gary Houlder/Lifesize/Getty Images)
  3. 3

    Detach the cushion from the frame if working with footstools, bar stools, benches and seats of chairs. Use a flat head screwdriver to pry it off.

    Do It Yourself: Reupholster
    Detach the seat from the frame with a screwdriver. (Jupiterimages/ Images)
  4. 4

    Extract all staples from the back and underneath of the furniture using a staple gun staple remover or a flat head screwdriver. Remove all nails with a hammer.

    Do It Yourself: Reupholster
    Remove all original nails and staples. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

    Installation Phase

  1. 1

    Remove the old upholstery slowly, keeping the pattern and shape of the fabric intact. Note how and where the old upholstery is fastened to the furniture's frame.

    Do It Yourself: Reupholster
    Remember how the original upholstery is attached. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Cut the new upholstery fabric using the original upholstery as a pattern. Cut the fabric about 1 inch larger than the original.

    Do It Yourself: Reupholster
    Cut upholstery fabric using the original fabric as a pattern. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)
  3. 3

    Wrap the fabric around the furniture, covering the cushions. The ends of the fabric should be in back of, or underneath, the furniture's frame. In the case of footstools, bar stools, benches and chair seats, the ends of the fabric should be under the piece of wood -- the foundation of the cushion that was removed from the frame.

    Do It Yourself: Reupholster
    The ends of the fabric should be in the back or bottom of the frame. (Jupiterimages/ Images)
  4. 4

    Staple the ends of fabric onto the furniture's frame with a staple gun. In the case of footstools, bar stools, benches and chair seats, staple the fabric to the underside of the wooden foundation.

    Do It Yourself: Reupholster
    Attach the upholstery with a staple gun. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  5. 5

    Place the reupholstered cushion back on the furniture's frame when working with footstools, bar stools, benches and chair seats. Turn the furniture upside down. With a hammer, nail the wooden foundation to the frame of the furniture.

    Do It Yourself: Reupholster
    Nail the cushion's wooden foundation to the furniture's frame. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)
  6. 6
    Do It Yourself: Reupholster
    (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Tips and warnings

  • A rule of thumb for purchasing fabric: For sofas, buy 1 yard for every foot in length of the sofa, and for foot stools, benches, bar stools and chair seats, buy 2 feet for every foot in length.
  • .
  • Be sure to sweep the area after removing all the nails and staples from the original upholstery job.

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