How to upholster your furniture
How to upholster – re-upholstering your furniture can be quite good fun. Even though the process can be tricky, with a bit of time and patience you can learn how to upholster.
Take your old piece of furniture whether it is an old sofa or coach, chair, chaise lounge, etc. You’ll find that most antique furniture you can reupholster. That’s because in the old days they used to make furniture to last. Modern day furniture isn’t made the same way and the majority of the sofa’s you will not be able to reupholster.
Before you start, take photos of the sofa or couch. This is as a guide so you know what the piece of furniture looked like before you start your work on it.
I also recommend taking photos as you are taking the sofa/coach apart. Take photos at various different stages as these can be very helpful and give you a guideline. Also take close-up photos of any area that looks like it could be difficult.
Even though a sofa/couch aren’t complex pieces of furniture, taking the photo helps as this type of project can take a while and you just forget how something fitted. The photos are to help memorise the project for referencing.
Now you can start taking the sofa/couch apart. It’s easiest to do it in order. Turn the sofa/coach upside down or turn it on its back. Take off the dust-cloth on the bottom and any other fabric that is around the bottom of the sofa.
Turn the sofa/coach back upright and now start to take off the fabric of the back, then the outside arms.
That care of the bits that could be re-used such as any horsehair, stuffing, springs. It’s advisable to wash the horse hair – to get it back to life. If you were lucky enough to get the old fabric off in one piece you could use that to cut out your new fabric.
Tip: Keep the old fabric cover until you have finished the sofa – just so that you can refer to it as and when needed.
If your sofa or coach has cushions then you will need to inspect theses to see if the filling will need to be replaced, if it does only use high quality foam as this will last for many years.
It’s best to use better and often more expensive material because other wise the sofa will start looking saggy and uncomfortable before it should and you will have to do it all again.
As you start to reupholster your sofa you can use your photographs as a guide to remember where everything goes – but I would also recommend using a how to upholster program to help you even further. Especially if you have never done anything like this before.
Start fastening the new interior material on the inside. Start first with the sofa seating area, then the inside arms, then the inside back. Make sure to always pull the material tight as you fasten it, or it will loosen over time.
Now you have to cover the sofa with your chosen material and fasten this with tacks or with a staple gun. Finish all the edging and now pride yourself on your achievements. And show it off to your friends and family.
Click here to get more detailed instructions on how to upholster.
Reupholstering of Antique Furniture
Reupholstering is when you still love an old piece of furniture, maybe it’s an heirloom or just a beautiful piece of antique furniture that you have had for years and now needs an overall.
The older styled furniture all have one thing in common they were made using a better technique and often are made out of a stronger construction – this lends them to reupholstering.
Antique furniture has hourglass type springs, as these give a nice comfort when you sit. When you are reupholstering these springs need to be tied-in carefully as they need to stay in the right position.
Also with reupholstering you use padding and this is either horse hair and/or thick cotton felt. In modern day sofa or similar furniture they only use foam which doesn’t often look right after a short time and is one of the reasons that modern furniture has become so easy to throw away.
Even though reupholstering can be specialist skill, it is possible to learn how to reupholster your own furniture – you might need some time and a bit of patience. It’s important that when you start your reupholstering that you reupholster the furniture in a sympathetic style suitable to the piece of furniture you have.
If you have decided to let a qualified upholsterer do the reupholstering job for you, then ask to see some previous work they have upholstered. Because you’ll find that some upholsterers are out of their depth with some pieces of furniture. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can speak to previous customers to find out how happy they are with the job they did for them.
When you decide to start reupholstering take your time because if you rush it will become obvious as the seating area will become bumpy and start to sink.
When you are reupholstering you need to decide if you are going to use the dreaded but very useful staple gun or the proper traditional tacks.
Many upholsterers think that the staple gun can still be used in the traditional style of reupholstering, that’s because the staples are quick and easy to use. Also traditional tacks make a bigger hole in the wood frame than staples. Personally I would use the staple gun for the lining but use the traditional tacks to hold the main cover in place. The choice is yours though.
You really can start reupholstering your own furniture sympathetically so that it can stay as a family heirloom and even pass it down the next generation.
Cleaning Old Horsehair for Upholstery
Horsehair was commonly used during the 19th century when upholstering. Horsehair as the name implies is taken from the mane and tail of the horse. Horsehair was always used because it’s known for being durable when used in upholstering.
So if you are upholstering an item, you will most probably find horsehair when taken your piece of furniture apart. You can re-use horsehair for your re-upholstering project but before you do you need to wash it.
Horsehair washing Instructions
Before you take you piece of furniture apart it’s recommended to vacuum the outside of the sofa/coach using the brush attachment.
When you have taking the piece of furniture apart then take the horsehair out and place it in a big container it’s most probably smelly and dusty!
When it’s a nice day outside go out in your back garden and fill up two big buckets with hot soapy water, immerse the horsehair and start to wash it. You can wash in the first then wash it again in the second bucket. Then rinse in clean water. Then allow the horsehair to drain.
You’ll find that after its wash the horsehair is very soft. Now you will still need to go through it and pull out any dirty old bits that are stuck in it.
After this wash the horsehair again in hot soapy water. You’ll find that the water is really dirty but that’s no wonder when it most probably has been inside the sofa/coach for 50 years or more.
After rinsing you now need to place it somewhere where it will dry. You can leave it outside on a garden table or on a clothes-drier and let the sun dry it naturally.
If it’s drying on the table you will turn the horsehair a few times so that the underside will also dry.
Once it’s dry put it in clean bags somewhere safely so you can use it in your upholstery project when you need it.
What is furniture reupholstery
Furniture reupholstery means you restore furniture back to its original ways, whether this is reupholstering seats, redoing springs, replacing the webbing, fabric or reupholstering your whole piece of furniture.
Furniture reupholstery is used for domestic furniture such as: dining room chairs, chaise longue, chairs, sofas or anything that needs upholstering. Upholstery can also be used on automobiles, planes and boats.
A person who does upholstery is known as an upholsterer. Proper traditional upholstery uses methods and materials such as: coil springs, animal hair (this can be horse or cow), hessians and wadding. The piece of furniture will be then completely reupholstered by hand.
Furniture reupholstery is done all by hand the furniture piece is first completely stripped, then if any work needs to be done on the frame it’s done now. Then the piece of furniture is put back together again.
It’s also possible to have furniture reupholstery done on bespoke furniture – there are companies out there that can do this for you. They can make you an original and stylish piece of furniture to any design you want – you’ll get a piece of furniture that meets your exact requirements and that is completely upholstered to you specifications.
Two ways to do furniture reupholstery
There are 2 ways to do furniture reupholstery. You can either have an upholsterer do the job for you. This is an easy way to do it – you send your piece of furniture to an upholsterer wait a few weeks and when it comes back your furniture is totally reupholstered. This way can cost you thousands of dollars depending on the piece and size of the furniture you want to have upholstered.
Another way would be to do it yourself. A growing number of people are deciding to reupholster their own piece of furniture. The buying a furniture reupholstery program and start there project.
Many people choice this solution because it saves you a lot of money and the satisfaction of doing the project yourself. It’s a great way do to it if you have a nice piece of furniture, a family heirloom and you want it looking fresh and like new again.
Some furniture reupholstery services only needs the fabric replaced this can be done by a local upholsterer or again by yourself.
How to reupholster
When you know how to reupholster you’ll be able to strip down a chair or sofa to its wooden frame and replace all the materials with new items. So you end up with the existing frame with new materials on it.
This is a great way of restoring your favourite chair or sofa to pristine condition. And can enable you to keep a piece of furniture that’s been hand down through the generations going for many years.
How to reupholster – What tools will you need?
You’ll need an upholsterer’s hammer. This should have a plain face of about 12mm in diameter. It doesn’t matter if the other end is a claw or is magnetic.
A ripping chisel – this looks like a screwdriver.
A web strainer. This tool enables you to get the webbing far tighter than you would otherwise.
Various specialist needles you need for doing different types of stitching.
A regulator is used for moving the stuffing about the scrim.
These specialist tools shouldn’t cost you more than $30. And they’re available to buy online.
You also need different materials that are used in upholstery. These materials include: Hessian and scrim for stuffing. Webbing to support your new springs. Bottoming that covers the base of the chair. And of course the material that will be the final covering for your chair or sofa.
Traditional upholstery consists of layers of varying thicknesses of woven and loose materials. The number of layers varies but they are always built up the same way. Webbing tacked to the frame takes most of the strain and supports the springs. A covering of strong Hessian is placed over the springs and the springs are attached to this, the same way they’re attached to the webbing. This forms a base for the first layer of stuffing. Scrim then encloses the first layer of stuffing.
A second layer of stuffing covers the scrim. This stuffing should be hair and is held in place by muslin. This also helps to create the final shape of the piece. And it stops the hair from sticking out through the top cover.
Many different fabrics can be used for the top cover. These fabrics can be man made or natural or even a combination of both. Nowadays many fabrics have to comply with the laws regarding the fire retardancy code.
Your first job will be to strip the chair back to its wooden frame. It’s agood idea to take photos of the chair as you strip it back. This way you remember what you have to do at each stage of the upholstery.
Once your chair is stripped check the wooden joints for looseness and re-glue where necessary. If the joints are very loose one, insider’s secret is to mix some sawdust with the wood glue. Also check for any woodworm damage and treat where necessary.
If you follow step by step instructions you will know how to reupholster a chair so you can restore it to new.
Need more information?
Then click here to discover more free information on how to reupholster.
Want to know more about reupholstery?
What is Reupholstery
Reupholstery is when you strip down an antique chair or sofa down to its wooden frame and replace everything with new springs and materials. So you end up with a chair or sofa that is in pristine condition.
This is an excellent way of prolonging the life of your favourite chair or sofa. So it continues to give you many years of service. In fact, your furniture can last several generations by using reupholstery.
So what’s the best reupholstery method?
Well, if you have the budget then you can have a professional upholsterer do your reupholstery. They will have all the tools and experience to do a first class reupholstery job for you. It’s matter of you finding a good upholsterer who can take your furniture away and return it in the finished condition.
How much will you have to pay for reupholstery?
This will vary on the cost of the new material you’re going to be using and the labor charges of the upholsterer. As a general guide a chair will cost you around $700 to be reupholstered. And a sofa will cost you around $1,500. Again these are general figures. And you should take time to research for yourself. One thing you should do is ask the upholsterer to see some samples of work. Or ask for some references. This way you can check up on the quality of craftsmanship.
However you can consider doing the upholstery yourself.
What’s involved in reupholstery?
Well, you’re going to know what to do. You could go to evening classes and learn reupholstery skills yourself. This is a great way of getting hands on experience and meeting others who have the same interests as you. You could even take your chair along that you want to upholster and work on it during the classes.
One drawback is you’re going to need to allocate time to attend your classes. This could be a week night or time at the weekend. This isn’t so good if you lead a very busy life.
What about doing the reupholstery yourself?
Sure you can do the reupholstery yourself. You can learn from a book or DVD. And you can discover the techniques and what you need to do at your own pace. You won’t have to set aside a few hours every week for several months. You can dip in and out of your reupholstery task as you go along.
What tools would you need if you do the reupholstery yourself?
You’d need some special tools. These won’t cost more than $20. And once you’ve got the tools, you’ve obviously got them for life. Try specialist online shops or even look on eBay. It’s amazing what bargains you can find.
The other things you’ll need are new springs and tieing cord. Plus special tacks. Again these are all available online. And will not cost you a small fortune.
To sum up, mastering reupholstery is a great skill and will give you many hours of enjoyment and satisfaction of making your antique furniture look like new.
Want to know more about reupholstery?
Donating furniture is a great way of getting rid of old furniture you no longer want. It’s much better than burning or throwing away your old furniture. After all donating furniture which you no longer want or need means your furniture is going to be still be used.
So you could say donating furniture is a green option.
Then there’s the altruistic side of things: You’re helping someone less fortunate than yourself. Perhaps a poorer family. Or someone who is a first time house buyer. Wouldn’t you have liked some extra help when you were starting your first home? Or help someone as you were perhaps once helped? Of course you would, wouldn’t you?
But here’s the thing.
A lot of furniture could still be used for years (even generations) to come. I’m talking about old chairs, settees, chaise lounges. These types of furniture. You see many of these old – perhaps antique furniture – can be restored without a great deal of work. In fact all these chairs and settees need is re-upholstering. Do that, and in many cases, these pieces are like new.
You see upholstery isn’t particularly difficult.
Anyone can become good at upholstery. You don’t need any special skills. You don’t have to be particularly ‘handy’ with your hands or tools. You only need to be able to follow some simple instructions.
And if you’ve got an old chair or settee then you’re faced with a wonderful opportunity to re-upholster a piece. Even if you’ve never upholstered before.
DIY upholstery for fun and profits
DIY upholstery is very rewarding. You’ll get a huge amount of pleasure by
upholstering your own furniture. You’ll also have developed a skill you can use over and over again to reupholster your furniture throughout your lifetime. And in the process extend the useful life of your favourite chairs, sofa or chaise lounge. This is especially good when you have lots of old antique items in your house.
Of course the advantage of doing your own diy upholstery is that you save the cost of using a professional upholsterer. This can be hundreds of dollars.
Your only outgoings are the cost of the materials. You’re going to need a new covering material. And by the way reupholstering provides you with a great opportunity to match a chair with the particular decoration of a room you want to put the chair in.
You’ll also need new springs, webbing for the springs to rest on. Twine to tie the springs, tacks, Hessian, a mixture of horse hair and fibre to stuff the chair and piping cord. Most of these items can be bought from specialist shops or from an internet shop.
If you’ve never done any upholstery before then you’re going to need to learn the skills. You can do this through reading books, watching DVD’s or attending courses or evening classes.
If you have already have upholstery experience then you’re ready to start.
You should start by stripping your item down to the bare woodwork. Before you do make sure you have a camera handy. That’s because you should take photographs of every stage you uncover. This way you’ll have a permanent reminder of what goes where. It’ll be too late trying to remember what you had in place afterwards.
With the wooden frame inspect it for woodworm and treat if necessary. Also inspect each wooden joint. If any joints are wobbly then you’ll have to re-glue them. Another place to check is where the tacks go. Fill any holes up with a mixture of sawdust and glue. This will ensure your new tacks stay firmly in place.
Traditional upholstery consists of varying thicknesses of woven and loose materials. The number of layers varies but they are always built up the same way. The webbing is tacked to the frame. Over the webbing goes strong Hessian. This forms a base for the first layer of stuffing. A second layer then goes on top. This stuffing should be hair. And it helps to shape the final look. Next a layer of wadding is placed. Finally the top fabric goes on.
DIY upholstery is a great and interesting skill to have. And this will give you hours of delight.
Simple Cleaning Solution:
Here are the some simple cleaning techniques you can use to keep your couch, chair or settee clean and remove stains:
Making the formula foamy by whisking it – is a brilliant way of getting the detergent mixed up - so that no part of the upholstery gets the foam too thickly. Dip a brush (with soft bristle) into the formula, scrub the upholstery, and then rinse using brush.
Equal amounts of water and liquid detergent (note to never use laundry detergent)Mix with a hand mixer until frothy. Scoop the froth onto a sponge, brush, or rag, and scrub into the stains. Don’t forget to rinse.
Vacuum and Softly Brush Weekly
Try and vacuum the cushions and backs of your couch, settee and chairs every week. Use a soft vacuum brush to remove any dirt.
Mix with water and agitate. Dab onto a sponge or brush, and use on greasy stains.
Dab on stain, don’t rinse. Repeat until the stain is gone. (Always do a spot test.)
Removal of Stains From Furniture
Carefully apply a little vinegar to the stain and not the surrounding wood with a small brush.
Repeat the process using a 10% sodium hypochlorite solution with a swab of cotton wool. The stain will gradually bleach so be prepared to stop before it goes too far. The stain will probably not be completely removed.
However when you’re satisfied rinse the area with cotton wool and water. When dry use a micro crystalline polish with some colour to restore to its normal colour.
These can be removed depending on how deep the moisture has penetrated the wood.
Sometimes you’ll remove the mark simply by rubbing linseed oil around the mark with your fingers. The excess is then
Failing this heat four parts turpentine for 15 minutes. Then allow it to cool and add one part turpentine. Shake the mixture and apply to the stain. Again remove the excess and polish.
Caused by moisture. Carefully remove the last layer of polish and bloom with white spirit. Allow to dry. Then re-polish.
If you’ve got old (even antique) furniture in your home the chances are sooner or later you’re going to have to re-upholster your chairs or settees. Simply because the fabric becomes worn. In fact furniture can get upholstered several times during its lifetime.
So you can either have a local upholsterer do the work for you. Or you can do the re-upholstery yourself.
The first job is to remove the old fabric, the stuffing, the springs and webbing. You’re then left with just the frame.
Webbing is then cut and tacked onto the back of the chair stretched towards the front. And then from side to side. Onto the webbing new (or the existing) springs are sown. The springs must be carefully aligned otherwise the piece may end up looking unsightly. Also the springs are tied together.
Next the webbing and springs are covered with a canvas which is then tacked along the sides. Then a series of large stuffing loops are attached. Under these horse hair is stuffed.
Now here’s a tip for you. Before stuffing the horse hair make sure you tease it out so you increase its volume This emphases the spring. When you start stuffing the horse hair do it a little at a time making sure you get an even stuffing.
Then the horse hair stuffing is covered with scrim and tacked down, making sure all bumps are removed. The scrim must have stuffed overlaps on all four sides of the chair.
Stitching in is next whereby the stuffing is sown in. The needle is inserted through the rolls at an angle of 45 degrees. The needle is not pulled out but just as the end reaches the top of the seat, the angle is shifted 45degrees. And is then pushed out the side of the chair. A series of stitches is then made around the chair. Another series of stitches can be repeated around the chair.
After stitching some more stuffed loops are applied along with a thin layer of horse hair and unbleached wadding. The seat should then be covered with unbleached calico. This cloth needs to be smooth with no folds showing.
Finally the fabric is put on by tacking around the outside of the chair. One thing. Make sure your fabric is 5cm longer than it needs to be.
And there you have your chair. Ready to take pride of place in your home.