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An Easy Step-by-step Guide on How to Reupholster a Couch

How to Reupholster a Couch
Instead of disposing off that old couch, reupholstering is a good way of giving it a new lease of life. Here, we provide you with an overview of the technique.
Omkar Phatak
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
My couch is the place where I find peace and solace on Earth. After a hard day's work, nothing can be compared with the comfort you can have, sitting on that soft, cushioned thing, with a glass of wine in your hand. You can really appreciate a couch then, as one of the few creature comforts that really matter. So, if this place of solace has sagged lately or needs an upgrade, you need to fix it with a reupholstering project.
Reupholstering a couch or sofa is reincarnating it. It will give the couch a new look, that is more in sync with your current living room ambiance, besides restoring the couch to its old soft and comfortable self. That way, you can also give it a personal touch and make it a unique piece of home furniture.

What makes the reupholstering easier is the fact that the fabric covering the sofa is usually stapled in sections. It isn't a single fabric that needs to fit over the sofa framework like a glove on a hand. Ergo, the job involves removing each section of the covering and replacing each section in the reverse order. Besides that, you need to cut the new fabric, according to the sections of the old one. In a nutshell, you are going to surgically strip the sofa and put a new covering in place. Let us look at the procedure in more detail.
Reupholstering Procedure
Restoring your old couch to its previous glory or giving it a new look is not an easy job. It is a labor of love and requires a lot of patience and hard work. However, if you think about the end product and the comfort it will offer, it is all definitely worth it. Here are general guidelines about the same.

Before beginning, make sure that the underlying framework of the couch is strong and intact. If it isn't, you may need to engage in some woodworking before beginning. If the couch is structurally weakened, there is no point in going ahead with the reupholstering. Go ahead, only if the structure is worth retaining for the future. The tools and supplies you will need, besides the brand new covering fabric, are a staple remover, a staple gun, scissors, an iron, foam padding (if need be), and a hammer.
Measure Your Couch and Shop For a New Fabric
Color cards
Measure the dimensions of your couch. This will give you a precise idea about the length of the fabric, that you will need to buy. Decide what kind of look you want. Think about the kind of color and texture. Measure each section, including the skirt etc., for the exact length of the new fabric, which you will need.
Going for a thick cloth makes sense, since a couch is subjected to a lot of wear and tear, as well as spilling. These fabrics are available in a variety of colors and types. You have a range of choices to pick from, including cotton, leather, wool, cotton blend, and silk. Make sure that the high-quality fabric is stain-resistant. Choose one that suits your style and liking. Always buy a few extra yards of the fabric. It comes in handy to stitch matching pillow covers later. About 10% more fabric, should be enough.
Strip the Old Fabric and Preserve Stuffing
Once you are ready with the new cloth, it's time to strip the old covering off the couch. Do not rip it apart or tear it. Carefully remove it, piece by piece, in intact form. You will have to remove a number of staples to achieve this result. Use a staple remover for the purpose.

The old fabric is the template on which you can model your new upholstery. That's why, you also need to know the position of each section, that you strip away. One way of doing this is by marking the fabric with numbers and photographing each before removing. Also, mark the area of the couch, with the same number, for future reference.

This will help you know what the end product should look like. That way, while reverse engineering things back again, you can check whether the process is correctly executed. Otherwise, it may turn out to be a humpty dumpty story. Make sure to note the stapling position and its patterns. You can start stripping the old fabric from the bottom, by setting the couch on its back. Then, remove the covering from the outside back, inside back, inside arms, and finally the deck.

Check the stuffing. The reason for the sagging and hardening of the couch is bad stuffing. Remove it and subject it to some air and sunshine. If it's still not back to its fluffy self, you have to replace it with high quality foam, that lasts longer. Do not compromise with the stuffing. It is what makes your couch comfortable in the first place. Otherwise, you will have a beautiful, but uncomfortable new couch. If it is a leather couch, extra care needs to be taken while stripping it, as it tears very easily. After stripping, vacuum the couch and clean it with a disinfectant.
Cutting Sections
Cut your new upholstery fabric, by modeling it on the basis of the old one. To make optimum use of the new fabric, spread it on the floor and put every part or section of the old cover, over the new fabric, in a jigsaw puzzle fashion. Mark out the outlines of the fabric on the new cloth and cut accordingly. The section cutting need not be exactly to size. Leave a small margin, length, and width wise. Sew the sections using a heavy needle and a heavy duty thread to ensure longevity of the stitches. Leave a 1/2" seam allowance. Don't forget to iron the pieces before stapling them.
Stapling Time
Now it is time to refer to your earlier photographs or marking scheme, to determine the stapling order of the fabric pieces. Cover the back and seat cushions directly with the new fabric. You can even staple the new fabric over the old one, for the cushions. Carefully staple the fabric sections, back in the right places. Refer to your earlier photos or markings for the right stapling order. You will need to use a staple gun for the job. Make sure that it is fully loaded, as you will need to punch in quite a few.
Enjoy the Comfort of Your Reincarnated Couch
After all these efforts, seeing your new couch is a satisfying experience. Even more satisfying is lying down on the soft and fluffy new couch and enjoying that well-earned nap on it. After all the hard work, you will realize that it was all definitely worth it.

If you are going for cushion replacement too, you have a sewing project coming your way. Buy matching cloth for the cushions, that matches your couch upholstery. You can use the old couch cushion dimensions for sewing the new ones. In terms of the expenses expected to be incurred by the project, I cannot really give you a figure that presents a precise cost, as it all depends on the quality of cloth you buy and amount of new foam stuffing. Let me assure you, however, that it is definitely cheaper than buying a new one.