How to use tacking strips in upholstering

Written by rebekah smith
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How to use tacking strips in upholstering
Get clean lines and tight fabric using a tack strip on your upholstery projects. ( Images)

If your furniture fabric is worn and outdated, you can update it with new upholstery. Upholstery tacking strips make upholstery manageable for even inexperienced upholsterers. Upholstery tacking strips are made of flexible metal and have teeth on one side. They create neat, tight fabric folds and secure edges. Strips are invisible once the upholstering is complete, so no nails show through your newly upholstered chair or couch.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tacking strip
  • Screwdriver
  • Tin snips
  • Staple gun
  • Scissors
  • Rubber mallet
  • Batting
  • Tack hammer
  • Rubber mallet (optional)

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  1. 1

    Line the tack strip up against the edge cord. If you are not using an edge cord, place the strip just inside the edge of the chair. When it is folded over, the tack strip will protrude slightly beyond the hole side -- it should not protrude outside the chair. The strip should have the hole side of the strip down against the piece of furniture directly above the wood framing. The teeth, the sharp small areas that stick out of the strip on the other side, should face the outside of the piece of furniture so that it folds over toward the outside of the chair.

  2. 2

    Bend the strip around curves as you keep the strip against the edge of the furniture. Cut the strip with tin snips when you reach the end of the piece of furniture.

  3. 3

    Staple the strip into the wood framing of the chair. Position the staples so that one side goes through the hole and the other goes into the space between the holes on the strip. Staple the edges on both sides of the hole, so that there is a staple from the centre of the hole to each side of the open spaces beside the hole. Staple both sides of any hole near a sharp curve and any location where the strip can come loose easily.

  4. 4

    Test the strip by gently pulling on it. The strip should be stapled securely into the wood framing. Staple any areas where the strip is loose again, but make sure the staple goes into the framing. Remove and replace any staples that are damaged, crimped or bent improperly.

  5. 5

    Bend the tack strip toward the hole side of the strip and the edge of the piece of furniture, but fold it only halfway down. Do not fold it all the way down.

  6. 6

    Insert batting to the edge of the tack strip so that no batting is on the tack strip at all. Do not let batting get into the strip.

  7. 7

    Place several small sections of fabric in the teeth and hand-close them. Adjust the fabric so that it is in its final place and there won't be any wrinkles or creases.

  8. 8

    Trim your fabric. Place the remaining fabric over the teeth to the edge cord and cut ½ inch longer than the cord.

  9. 9

    Wrap the fabric around the teeth tab and push the teeth toward the edge of the furniture slightly. Wedge the fabric into the teeth tabs tightly using a screwdriver as you push the teeth the rest of the way down with your finger. Start at one end and work three to four inches at a time.

  10. 10

    Adjust the fabric, if needed, by loosening the tabs individually. They can still be pulled up at this point. Finish all adjustments and push the tabs down with your finger until the fabric is exactly how you want it.

  11. 11

    Close the tack strip completely and hit it at an angle using a tack hammer or rubber mallet. Check the strip by running your fingernail under the edge. If your fingernail does not fit, the tack strip is closed.

Tips and warnings

  • Put a piece of fabric over the tack strip as you are hammering it in for the final time so that you don't damage the fabric underneath. Open the tack strip with a screwdriver if you need it open after you have hammered it in.

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