Reupholstering Furniture: Before You Begin


In today’s tough economy, more and more people are looking for less expensive ways to improve their lives and living conditions. Instead of hiring someone to fix the plumbing, they are doing it themselves. Instead of taking an exotic vacation, people are enjoying a few days off and rediscovering their back yards. And, instead of purchasing new furniture, more and more people are refurbishing their existing ensemble. It’s not as hard as you think and in fact, you’ll be doing the environment a favor by keeping your furniture out of the landfill. But, before you begin ripping off your sofa’s fabric, here are a few tips to help your reupholstering adventure end in favorable results.

  • Take a few moments, a few hours or a few days to study the existing fabric that is on your furniture and how that fabric was originally secured to the frame. Turn it over, look at the bottom. Remove the pillows and look under the seat pillow.
  • Use a camera to take a few pictures of the piece before you begin de-constructing it. This will help you have an image of how the piece should look while you are working on it.
  • Take notes or commit to memory the subtle details on how the piece is put together. Look at the skirt, the buttons, the welting, the seams, etc.
  • Use care when removing the existing fabric. Your reupholstering job will be much easier if you have the older fabric in one piece to use as a template for the new fabric.
  • Before removing the fabric, find the section that should come off first. In most cases, this is the fabric over the back or along the bottom of the frame. Take pieces of paper, number them and pin them to each section so you know in what direction you will be proceeding next. Along with the number, write the section that it pertains to, such as “left arm side.”
  • Do the best you can to not disturb the padding, stuffing or batting. Of course, if the piece is old or has had a lot of use, you may have to replace some or all of it, but if it is in decent shape, just smooth it out some to remove any lumps or bunches.
  • Choose the right fabric for the job. While heavy-duty tapestry may last a little longer, it can be cumbersome and difficult to work with. For your first upholstery job, a medium-weight fabric will be easier to use, it will cost less and it will last longer than you can imagine.

The important thing is to remember to have fun when reupholstering your furniture. After all, the process is a journey, one filled with laughs, a few tears and eventually pride in knowing you did it all yourself.


Dave Donovan is a freelance copywriter living in Atco, N.J. An electrician for 15 years, an injury forced him to pursue his true passion - writing.