Fabric needed to reupholster a couch

Written by jessica kolifrath
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Fabric needed to reupholster a couch
Adding new upholstery fabric to a couch can help it blend into a room's decor. (Dougal Waters/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Reupholstering a couch involves removing the existing upholstery fabric and replacing it with new material. Update the style of your couch with reupholstery, or use it to extend the life of a worn-out piece of furniture. You must choose the right fabric to upholster a couch or it will not hold up to regular use.

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Basic cotton muslin, also known as calico, is a plain fabric that is smooth and durable, but relatively thin. Grandma's Penny Pinching website says that an unbleached form of this fabric is often used as a dust cover on the bottom of a couch or other upholstered furniture. Muslin is a perfect choice for this area of the furniture because it is rarely seen, and muslin is inexpensive and holds up to many years of use. The platform part of the couch, where the seat cushions rest, is often covered in muslin for durability as well. Plain cotton covers can also be made for the cushions or arms of a couch to add strength under the decorative upholstery fabric.

Cotton Tapestry

Tapestry fabrics made from cotton last a long time, even under heavy use, and come in a wide variety of patterns and colours. Also known as upholstery fabric, these materials are thicker than other cotton fabrics, like jersey or muslin, and very tightly woven. Fabrics with a loose weave or weak threads will fray and show the cushion underneath the material, according to the Colorado University Extension Office. If the fabric is too stiff or thick, it won't stretch enough to properly fit the couch. Damask is a very popular and formal tapestry pattern that may suit a couch, or choose a woven-in floral pattern that will resist abrasion and fading better than a printed pattern.

Leather and Suede

Leather in its various forms is a great choice for reupholstering a couch, but it may be too challenging for a beginner to use, says the Repair-Home.com website. Suede is a form of leather that has been cut to expose a soft side instead of the slick finish of uncut leather. Neither stretches easily, making a smooth and professional-looking upholstery job difficult to complete at home. Vinyl and other forms of imitation leather may offer the same style and durability but with an easier upholstery process.

Stain-Resistant Fabrics

New developments in fabric treatments have created a wide range of stain-resistant fabrics designed for upholstery use. The experts at Fabrics.net say that these materials are treated with invisible, hypoallergenic sprays that prevent water and other spills from soaking into the fabric. Liquids pool on top of the fabric, making it easy to wipe them up, preventing stains on the upholstery and the cushion underneath. Some fabrics are also backed with a thin layer of latex for the same purpose. Colour and pattern selection may be limited, but this may be the best choice for a couch that will be used by children or pets.

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