When dining or living room chairs begin to look dingy and outdated, many do-it-yourselfers start to think about reupholstering them. Unfortunately, they often make one or more of these common upholstery mistakes to avoid.
Getting in Over Your Head
If you’ve never taken on a reupholstery job before, it’s probably not a good idea to start with Grandma’s tufted sofa or wingback chair. Start simple, with something like the removable seat of a dining room chair, to see if reupholstery is really something you want to take on. Otherwise, hire a professional.
Covering the Old With the New
Reupholstery involves more than fabric. A thorough reupholstery job will strip the furniture down to its frame and repair or reinforce it, if necessary, then replace worn springs and crumbling padding before covering it with new fabric. Just slapping a new layer of fabric over an old one risks uncomfortable bunching under the new layer and may create more wear on the new fabric from friction with the old.
Choosing the Wrong Kind of Fabric
You should select a fabric with the purpose of a piece in mind. A sofa or chair that kids and pets adore will need a tough, stain-resistant, and easy-to-clean fabric. Think about where the piece sits in your house. A chair that spends most of its time in direct sunlight needs a fabric that won’t fade.
Using the Wrong Tools
Getting the fabric and foam off a chair and replacing it all may take more types of tools than you anticipated. First, you’ll have to remove old nails and staples, measure and cut new foam and fabric, and apply the new fabric with an upholstery nail gun or stapler that uses the right kind of staples for upholstery. The staples must be strong enough to penetrate wood yet thin enough to lie flush with the surface. An ordinary office stapler isn’t up to the task. You’ll probably also need a hammer, needle-nose pliers, a screwdriver, and a glue gun to take everything apart and put it back together again.
Trying To Resurrect a Piece That’s Too Far Gone
That chair or sofa you discovered at the thrift store or garage sale is there for a reason—it may have reached the end of its useful life. Avoid the upholstery mistake of buying a used piece of furniture without thoroughly inspecting the piece first, thinking you can revitalize it. Take a long, hard look at its underside. Test the strength of the frame, and look carefully at how well the piece holds together. If the arms are separating from the back, the legs are loose and wobbly, and the frame is cracked or broken, there’s no point in buying the piece. You’d be better off investing in a new, well-built chair or sofa that you can use for years and then reupholstering it when the time comes.