It’s Easier Than You Might Think to Do Your Own Upholstery

Upholstery is one of those things that improve life in a way that is completely out of proportion to the materials and time required. Similarly, when our house’s chairs, couches, cushions, and seats become shabby, worn, and torn, our personal lives begin to look second-rate. Fortunately, with the help of small, inexpensive air-powered staple guns, it’s possible to easily and affordably renew your upholstery.

Upgrading your home’s interior design is as crucial as improving its  furniture and other appliances. Using thread and needle to improve your furniture is a simple process. DIY upholstery is a simple method that involves manually installing stuffing, springs, webbing, padding, and cloth and (re)covering or remodeling chairs, benches, headboards, and even box springs. The process is similar to wrapping a present, and the results are much more professional than you would expect. We’ll try to learn what crafty rookies should know prior to tackling their first DIY upholstery project in this article.

DIY upholstery

What’s Possible?

A beginner can easily learn to successfully upholster something with straight lines. If you’re not comfortable making pleats, the process can become more difficult once you get into a curved arm. A  rectangular benchtop or a square dining room chair seat are likely candidates for a first project, but larger doesn’t always mean more complicated: A box spring can quickly be upholstered and legs screwed on to make it look like an upholstered bed.

Reupholstering vs. Recovering

To begin, it’s critical to understand the distinction between recovering and reupholstering. Recovering is merely replacing the old fabric with new fabric, which makes it quite economical. Reupholstering, on the other hand, involves replacing all of the inner and outer components—the fabric as well as all of the padding and foam.

What equipment will I need?

Staple Gun: A handheld staple gun would do, but a pneumatic version (which is more inexpensive) will save you a huge amount of time. You can find the perfect staple gun for your job from

Hammer: For hammering in flourishes such as grommets or nail heads. Wrapping your hammer in batting and securing it with a rubber band is a simple trick that will protect the accents you are hammering in from scratching.

Fabric: Upholstery-weight fabric is better for high-wear areas such as seating, but you can get around this by getting a less durable fabric and putting down a piece of muslin or canvas underneath it.

Batting: Batting is a cheap, puffy cotton wadding sheet that creates the cushy puff beneath the fabric.

Upholstery Tack Strip: A straight-edged upholstery seam is completed with an upholstery tack line, which is a long, narrow piece of double-stick cardboard.

The Most Common Reupholstering Misconceptions

Many people make the mistake of believing that reupholstering is easy. Many times, professionals have clients who bring them projects that they first tried on their own. Many reupholstering clips on YouTube feature specialists who make the process appear simple, but if you’ve never done it before, it is likely to end up being much more complicated than you anticipated.

What’s the Process?

The following is the basic procedure for DIY upholstery: Remove the object you’re going to upholster first, such as by flipping a chair over and disassembling and extracting the cushion. Cut a piece of batting to fit the seat’s shape and size and place it on top. Cover it with a big piece of cloth with plenty of overhangs, and flip the entire seat-batting-fabric combination over. In order to trap the batting inside, drag the fabric’s loose edges taut and staple them to the rear side of the surface. There are countless tutorials for this technique on YouTube that are simple and straightforward.


This stapled end can be kept messy in several cases—you won’t be able to see it on the underneath of a chair seat or a bench—but if you’d like to cover it perfectly, grab an upholstery tack strip, the second piece of fabric, and your staple gun.

When it’s Okay to Do It Yourself

Basic “whack and tack” jobs, in which you simply pull the fabric around a padding-wrapped surface and staple it in place, are a fantastic place to start. For practitioners, reupholstering dining room chairs with drop seats is a relatively simple task. Because most seats are square, all that is required is figuring out how to fold the corners.

A plain covered headboard is another easily doable project. It’s similar to how you’d wrap a present. You can build one by buying a piece of plywood cut to your desired size from Home Depot, stuffing it, and then wrapping and stapling your clothing around that one. If you’re going to do it yourself, stay away from thick fabrics like leather and vinyl because they’re tricky to fold.

When to Hire a Professional

If you want a professional-looking result, everything which requires “full upholstery” (such as sofas, chairs, and ottomans) is too difficult for a beginner to handle, unless you’re working on something simple for practice. You can buy a cheap chair at Goodwill and get inexpensive fabric to learn the skill, but if it’s a family heirloom with upholstered back and arms, get professional assistance. Likewise, if your piece has any structural problems, such as a wobbly frame or leg, it should be taken to a professional.

Do you have any other advice?

If you’re reupholstering an old piece, the batting may be salvageable if it’s been stored in a cool, dry location. You can also upholster over the old fabric if it isn’t darker than your new fabric. If you find anything at a flea market that has been exposed to the elements, you should strip it down to the wood and consider replacing the batting. There’s nothing worse than going through the whole process only to discover that your chair is molding from the inside out.