Upholstering projects are a gratifying and rewarding way to spend your time. After all, there are few things more enjoyable than having people compliment a couch, cushion, or chair that you designed yourself. That said, when done improperly, your upholstery might show onlookers unsightly staples rather than gorgeous fabrics. Fortunately, we're here to help with this comprehensive guide to hiding staples when upholstering.
Pay Attention in Disassembly
One of the most straightforward strategies for learning to hide your upholstery staples effectively is paying close attention to the disassembly stages of your project. As you tear the fabric away from the frame of your piece, certain features and design layouts will pop out at you.
When they do, take notes, and follow the steps below. Doing so will help you understand how the staples were initially concealed. As a result, you'll start to get a feel for how to go about covering any unsightly staples on your own.
The first step to any upholstering project is creating a perfect canvas to work with. The only way to do this is by tearing the old material away from its frame. When you start, carefully observe the order in which the pieces of fabric are layered and how they unravel as you remove them. To illustrate, perhaps you're reupholstering your vintage sofa.
You start removing fabric and find that the original designer stapled down the side and top areas of the couch before the back panel. From this, you can glean that the fabric is layered in a way that uses the rear panel as a sort of shield that hides everything else from view. Although this might be a simple tactic, understanding it helps you get a firm grasp on how to hide your staples once you start securing new fabric.
Once you note where the fabric was layered initially, you'll want to take some time to observe a few other things, too. Start by taking note of specific folds in the fabric. You can do this by retracing the fold after you staple them. Just be sure to do this with extra care, so you don't damage any of the fabric in the process. After figuring out how to fold it correctly, examine the piece to see where piping or cording may exist.
Double-check if there are any concealed tack strips present. Once you've noted all these different things, save each piece of the original fabric as you remove it. Then, mark on the frame where it belongs and the method used to secure it there. As you lay over the new material, use your upholstery staple gun and staples to mimic the noted techniques as you put the piece back together.
Take Advantage of Welting
Of course, there's more than one right way to get something done. So, if you're looking for another way to hide upholstery staples, consider using welting. This method is beneficial for those looking to hide staples by adding a bit of decorative flair.
If you're unaware, welting is the decorative cording that's often found along the perimeter of couches, cushions, and chairs. When appropriately applied, it can provide a smooth cover for upholstery staples. Plus, it's sure to give your piece a dynamic, finished look. Welting is typically available in pre-made packages at most upholstery shops, so it'll be relatively easy to find what you're looking for if you go with this strategy.
The first step in using welting on your upholstery is picking out which cording fits well with the vision you have for your project. It's likely that you won't find a pre-packaged welting that matches the color of your piece. Thus, it's always best to go with a complementary color that accentuates the best features of the furniture you're working with. For instance, white welting on a black chair can bring the chair's structure to the forefront.
Plus, using these colors in tandem will create a striking and dynamic effect that makes the project unique. If you prefer, you can also create your welting by sewing white cording into strips of materials that match the color of your piece. In any case, the first step in using welting effectively is selecting a beautiful trim that excites you.
Once you've selected the right welting for your project, the work can begin. Luckily, this technique is relatively simple and only really requires some heavy-duty fabric glue and, of course, your welting of choice. Start by attaching the cording to the border of your piece by gluing it with your adhesive. Then, pull it until it's taut and press the welting into place as you work. Make sure you do this over all the staples areas of your fabric so that they're adequately covered.
If you feel that you need a bit more coverage, you can choose to go with a double-corded strip of welting. Typically, this is the more forgiving option, as it provides a larger coverage area for you to work with. From there, it's just a matter of ensuring your welting seams are adequately aligned, waiting for them to set, and enjoying the finished look of your decorative, staple-hiding trim.
Use an Upholstery Tack-Strip
This guide to hiding staples when upholstering wouldn't be complete without mentioning tack-strips. Essentially, tack-strips are flexible tools with teeth and holes built-in. The holes serve the purpose of tacking on the frame of a couch, cushion, or chair.
The teeth secure fabrics in place, which results in no visible staples on your project. These tools are incredibly helpful for those with minimal knowledge of more advanced upholstering tools, and they make it easy to achieve stunning results for all your projects. Tack-strips are even effective on curvy areas of a couch or chair. Plus, they're pretty easy to use.
The Tack-Stripping Process
To get the best results, use tack-strips when there is still a bit of upholstering work to do. For example, suppose a corner of your piece has already been stapled down, but another in the same area still needs attention. If so, this is the perfect time to pull out a tack strip. Be sure to work carefully to position the strip tightly over the border of your fabric.
Once the holes are in place, push the teeth of the tack-strip into the holes at a 45-degree angle. After that, tack them down gently with a mallet to secure the fabric to your piece. Continue this process until all the material is tightly tied to your project, and enjoy your new and improved staple-free upholstery.