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How to reupholster piano benches

A piano is a timeless instrument that many people commonly pass down from one generation of the family to the next. Pianos are quite sturdy and built to last. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about piano benches, whose cushioning and fabric covering can easily wear down, rip and fade after years of constant use. If you have an older piano bench in desperate need of a makeover, you can easily add decades to it by reupholstering the seat.

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  1. Turn the bench upside down, seat side facing down, and remove the seat from the bench legs. Typically, the seat platform is attached by four to eight Phillips-head screws from underneath. Unscrew the screws, setting them aside all together in a safe place, such as a cup or saucer.

  2. Set aside the bench legs. You won't need them until you've finished reupholstering.

  3. Remove the current upholstery. This is usually stapled to the bottom of the seat platform. Pry the staples off using a flathead screwdriver all the way around the perimeter of the bench. Discard the fabric.

  4. Remove the cushion and batting underneath the original upholstery. Usually this is only spray-glued onto the bottom of the platform, or free-standing and unattached, so removal is easy. You may have to remove a few staples with the flathead screwdriver if the batting and cushion are stapled to the seat platform. Of course, if the cushioning is in good shape, leave it on as extra padding; you don't have to replace it.

  5. Trace an exact outline of the bench seat onto the firm foam using permanent marker. Cut out the foam so that it fits exactly on top of the bench. Place the foam onto the bench on the seating side. Do not secure or staple the foam to the seat; this can damage the foam and make it uneven.

  6. Trace around the bench again on the polyester batting material, using chalk and leaving at least 2 to 2 1/2 inches all the way around the perimeter of the bench. Cut out the batting.

  7. Center the batting over the foam and the seat platform and cover the seat with the batting. Carefully turn it over, foam side down, and loosely staple the batting down in eight to 12 even spaces places around the bench. Don't pull the fabric completely taut. Leave a little tension, or you may flatten the foam and diminish some of the comfort of the restuffed bench. Ensure, however, that it is smoothly stretched over the seating as uneven or lumpy padding will cause anyone who sits at your piano some degree of discomfort and distraction.

  8. Select a fabric that will not only match your bench, but your piano as well. Darker fabric colours look best with darker wood finishes and blacks, while walnut and oak finish pianos look best with more casual or country chic patterns.

  9. Center the bench, batting side down, on the wrong side of the fabric. This means that if your fabric has a pattern, centre the bench on the side that doesn't show the pattern.

  10. Trace around the perimeter of the bench with chalk, leaving five extra inches of space all the way around. Cut out the outline neatly.

  11. Pull the fabric tight around the bench, and staple it once on each side in the middle, about an inch past the edge of the seat. This secures the fabric and pulls it taut all the way around the seat bench.

  12. Fold each corner of the fabric neatly, as though you were wrapping a present with wrapping paper. Gently pull the fabric taut as you go. Staple each corner two or three times to secure the folds in place, then staple twice more per side around the bench.

  13. Cut off any excess fabric around the underside of the seat. Leave an inch from the staples, in case you need to adjust it in the future.

  14. Re-attach the seat to the bench legs. Retrieve the screws from earlier. Center the bench legs on the bottom side of the bench seat platform. Re-screw the bench legs onto the seat platform. Drive the screws through the new fabric and batting, if necessary; it won't unravel the fabric and just secure the bench even more. Turn the bench over, right-side up.

  15. Tip

    If the original cushion material under the fabric is in decent condition and the fabric itself isn't torn or uneven in any way, leave the fabric on instead of removing and replacing all of it. Simply staple the new fabric over the old cushion and upholstery. This will add a little extra padding to the seat. Upholstery fabric is a sturdy choice for a piano bench, since this type of fabric can withstand a lot of wear and tear. For a more timeless, elegant look for your piano bench, use a classic richly coloured velvet or thick velveteen instead. While the bench legs are off the seat, you may want to sand and refinish them, as well, to give your piano bench a complete makeover.

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Things You'll Need

  • Staple gun
  • 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch staples
  • Pliers
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • 1 yard or more of upholstery fabric, velvet or velveteen
  • 1 yard 1-inch firm foam
  • 1 yard polyester batting
  • Seamstress chalk
  • Sharp scissors

About the Author

Andrea Ruiz has written professionally for blogs, online entertainment magazines and television network websites for more than a decade. Ruiz has also been a web and social media developer, Internet business consultant and computer programmer since 1999, and worked for four years as a professional community manager. Ruiz holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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