How To Reupholster Your Old Sofa at Home


Your old sofa could use a new look and unfortunately it isn’t an easy thing to do. That’s why people prefer to get their sofa reupholstered by professionals as it saves time and is very convenient. You can do the same by searching for “furniture repair near me”. However, if you want to take the challenging task of reupholstering your sofa, here’s what you can do:

The Details

  1. Choose the fabric – Whether you have an old sofa that has been through a lot of surface damage or got a stellar deal on a yard sale, you need some good fabric to upholster it. However, it’s important to note that upholstery fabric can be very expensive, unlike regular cotton or polyester fabric used in clothing. Depending on the size of your sofa, you would need anywhere from 10 to 30 yards of fabric and the yardage cost can easily climb over $20 for every yard. That means you need to spend at least $200, even if you want to upholster a small sofa. That wouldn’t be a lucrative option if you want to save money. A couple of hundred dollars more can get you a brand-new sofa.

Instead, look for alternative fabrics. Something like polyester, natural burlap, or drop cloth. A drop cloth can be heavy-duty and affordable at the same time. Moreover, it looks as elegant as linen and has a wonderful natural color. You can also dye it or bleach it to get the perfect color you want. Within less than $50 you can get all the drop cloth you need for your sofa and still have some more for other small projects. Before you put the drop cloth to use it’s important to wash and dry it. Ironing the fabric also helps in the later steps.

  1. Remove old upholstery – Before you apply the new upholstery, it’s time to rip off the old one. You can’t use brute force. Removing it carefully teaches you essential things about applying the new upholstery. Most old sofas would have the upholstery attached to them with the help of heavy-duty staples, lots of it. To remove the staples, you need to loosen them up with flat head screwdrivers and then pry them out with pliers. Otherwise, you can invest in a decent staple removing tool and save yourself a lot of time and effort. They barely cost double digits.

Turn the sofa upside down and remove the lightweight fabric slowly and after removing the staples, pull off the underlying dark and heavy fabric with care. You’ll need it later. As you remove the fabric, you’ll also find pieces of cardboard and plastic stuck to them, note the positions, and label them with a marker. Keep clicking pictures after every step so that you know their positions and can put them back correctly later on.

  1. Refinish the frame – Here you can stick to the original design of the sofa or use all your creative juices to slightly modify your sofa. For instance, if you like the curls and curves of vintage furniture, you may want to keep those features on your sofa. Otherwise, you can remove them for unified clean lines and a minimal design. Make sure not to saw off any part that compromises the structure of your sofa. After you remove the unwanted parts, sand down the frame and use wood filler where necessary.

If you want to highlight the old finish, you can restrain it dark or light. Use a chip brush or any other kind that will give you the texture you want. For a vibrant and colorful look, you can apply a double coat of your favorite bonding primer and scuff sand it a little. The next step is to use your favorite colors and paint the frame the way you want.

  1. Reupholster the sofa – Now it’s time for the most crucial step, upholstering the sofa. Use the underlying layers of fabric you took off from the sofa and use the marker positions along with the photos you clicked as a guide. You must recover the cushions and provide extra fabric where there isn’t any. You need to apply the new fabric the same way. Use plenty of staples. Reupholster the sofa with the new fabric and use staples at the same positions. Use tack strips wherever it was used. If the old fabric was folded at some place to create a crease, you need to repeat the same with the new fabric. If you have damaged plastic pieces, tack strips, and other such supplies, you have to order new ones online.

When you attach the new fabric to the sofa, make sure to pull it tight. Otherwise, your re-upholstered sofa would look like those DIY nightmares on the internet. It wouldn’t just affect aesthetics, but also become loose and wrinkly over time and all that effort and materials would be wasted. For a professional finish, you need to work in reverse order. Start from the panel at the front, or the location of the final removal of the old fabric. Once you upholster the bottom of the sofa with the staples you can either hand sew the last side or take the easy route with upholstery pins. Their curved shape holds the fabric firmly to the sofa and isn’t visible at all after the cushions go over. Continue to upholster the sofa till you reach the position where you started to remove the old fabric. Once the fabric is firm and in place, you can also test its durability by sitting on the sofa and moving around. If the staples look unsightly, you can cover them with trims. Anything from fabric strips to braided cord works.


Now that you know about reupholstering sofas, you need to get to the task as soon as possible since it’s going to take a lot of time and planning. Otherwise, you can leave it to the pros and save yourself the effort by searching for “furniture repair near me”.