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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> Anybody ever totally reupholster a couch?
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01/13/2009 10:12:30 PM · #1
I've got a couch and loveseat that are in excellent physical condition, but the fabric is quite faded. I've always wanted to either take on the project of reupholstering one or both myself or getting someone professional to do it. Does anybody have experience with either route? I'd be curious about costs and how difficult it was. I'm not talking slip covers here, I'm talking stripping the couch down and covering it over with thick fabric so it looks store bought.

I'd love to hear experiences out there!
01/13/2009 10:45:51 PM · #2
check out the DIY networks website. they should have some advice. I would suggest getting it done by a pro if you want it to look like it was done by a pro. I tried this with a chair once, It turned out alright looked great for a few months then my craftsmanship started to fail. fabric became loose and soon after started to tear from stress.
01/13/2009 10:50:43 PM · #3
Probably good advice. Anybody get it done from a pro? Is it just as expensive as getting a new couch?
01/13/2009 10:56:11 PM · #4
That depends on the quality of the frame and type of fabric you choose. Good fabric isn't cheap. If you shop around you might find some old grandpa that does it as a hobby in his garage for pocket change.

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Probably good advice. Anybody get it done from a pro? Is it just as expensive as getting a new couch?
01/13/2009 10:56:29 PM · #5
years ago my Mom and Grandmother took a reupholstering class and they took a piece of their own furniture that they wanted to work on ... both of them turned out amazingly well and I've got my Grandmother's chair in my house today ... they didn't find it to be very difficult if you've got the patience to do a good job ... my Aunt has also recovered a lot of furniture and she has always encouraged me to do it, I've just never decided to do anything other than the dining room chairs ... price will depend on what type of fabric you choose ... upholstery fabric ranges from about $10/yard to $100/yard ... do you need to replace the cushions? Add that in as an additional cost ... there are lots of internet resources that will give you step by step instructions also ...

Google Answers on reupholstery

link talking about classes

do it yourself link

DIY video

01/13/2009 10:58:27 PM · #6
We actually reupholstered our seat. It is by far the worst thing, my parents fully regretted it. That's all i can tell you.

Message edited by author 2009-01-13 22:58:49.
01/13/2009 10:59:01 PM · #7
My folks had theirs done a few years ago... I believe it did cost as much as a new couch (at least a cheaper one) but they loved the thing and had never found one as comfortable.

As to the quality of the job, you would never know it wasn't brand new. I didn't recognize the couch I had lived with for 18 years. But I think it'd be a heck of a job to tackle yourself...
01/13/2009 11:00:35 PM · #8
how easy or difficult it is, is entirely dependent on the style of couch. I recovered a hideous hand me down couch but it was an easy style to do. Took about 5 hours and a crapload of heavy duty staples. The fabric I got at 90% off from an upholstery fabric store (it was a remnant). the entire thing cost me about $45. 4 years later, still holding strong except for under one arm where someone pulled the staples out. I will say that it would have been much more difficult with a complicated couch. I also did not 'unupholster' it first.

Good luck!
01/13/2009 11:07:48 PM · #9
Hey Doc,

Do the economy and yourself some good, and get off your wallet and go buy some new American made furniture.

01/13/2009 11:10:07 PM · #10
Not on purpose...
01/14/2009 12:03:27 AM · #11
Originally posted by MattO:

Hey Doc,

Do the economy and yourself some good, and get off your wallet and go buy some new American made furniture.


I bought a house yesterday. That ought to cover me for a bit, eh? You are just sore I do my own oil changes... ;)
01/14/2009 12:07:15 AM · #12
I reupholstered a chair a few years ago. I can't say it was "difficult", but it was more time-consumng than you'd think! Remove all the fabric and use it as the pattern for the new fabric. You might need to replace the cushion(s) and stuffing as well. It's definitely cheaper to do yourself (if you're willing) than to have it done professionally.
01/14/2009 12:37:03 AM · #13
If you are handy, and I bet you are, try it yourself. We had an old unusual sofa done many years ago by an old guy who was great with the fabric, but just didn't come through with the small structural repairs as promised, and the cushion filling, also as promised - sort of a waste, it wasn't cheap, but it looked good. If you go the professional route, check his or her work first, and be very clear about details and estimates.
01/14/2009 01:12:31 AM · #14
It pays to have a good sewing machine to be able to sew through the sturdy upholstery fabric otherwise you'll be frustrated at breaking needles all the time. I've covered a few large couch cushions and re upholstered a small club chair as well as a sectional sofa. A sturdy staple gun will be useful to have for sure. Always allow extra if there are stripes, you may have to do a custom order of fabrics to guarantee that you will have enough. in case the store doesn't re-stock more of the same if you suddenly realise you need an extra yard or two later. Often the colours may not be quite the same. I used to work in a fabric store, including their upholstery section.

Pacific Fabrics in Bellevue used to/may still have a class in reupholstering a chair, they may be able to tell if you their other branches are offering any in the near future, it will make your job so much more easier learning from a pro. I don't know which ones do in Portland, sorry.

I second amandaks point about using the old cover for a pattern and add extra seams as they may be trimmed off once they are stapled down.

Good luck with whatever you do, it can be expensive to get someone else do it, or it is satisfying to see your own work.

You just need a lot of patience and careful planning

(PS The Mill End stores in Portland should still have a good source of upholstery supplies, I'd call them both first before heading there as I was familiar with the Beaverton one)

Message edited by author 2009-01-14 01:27:07.
01/14/2009 01:42:21 AM · #15
DrAchoo, I have three friends that are professional upholsterers. One has retired but I have spend a lot of time at there shops over the years. I personally don't know how to do anything but strip the furniture but have watched and asked questions and was amazed at how technical upholstering furniture can be.

With the price of fabric the main thing is ordering the right yardage so your pattern will match top to bottom, center out, and front to back. You will need several special tools along with others. Such as a commercial sowing machine, tack hammer, air pressure staple gun, glue for the foam, scissors, fabric chalk, tap measure, an L-Ruler, 2 or 3 work horses, puller, blower, large table to measure and cut fabric, and more.

You will need new foam, both solid and fibered, and new tacks if the units are tacked. You will need folders (??? can't remember the name) but they a made so you can roll the edge of the fabric and hammer it to the unit so you will not see any tacks or staples. I know I'm missing other things you will need but this is a start.

You can put a lot of money into doing it yourself but I have also seen invoices from my friends that reach upward of $1000 or more for each unit. But then again they only did work for interior decorators.
01/14/2009 04:15:58 AM · #16
If it's a new hobby you want, get NEW furniture and a microbrew kit. :)
01/14/2009 11:23:32 AM · #17
The filling is in excellent shape except for one of the arm pillows which sags. Another possibility has struck me. Really the problem with the couch is it is faded from sun exposure. It was a dark, dark blue originally and the back has faded to an almost purple/pink/blue. Not pretty. I wonder if I could remove the current fabric, dye it, and replace it? That may be a lot easier, although I'll still have a blue couch.
01/14/2009 12:16:22 PM · #18
Depending on the style of the couch, honestly I think to get it looking at all decent you will probably need to hire a professional. But then again you could try it and if you don't like how it comes out you can always have it done professionally. It's not like you could harm it. I just had two small couches recovered for the studio and it was about $750 each (one is a 50s era loveseat and one is a very small Victorian wingback). More than I was hoping to spend, but they look fabulous. I could never have done such a good job with them. Of that $750, the fabric cost was almost half of it, which you are going to have either way.

01/14/2009 12:32:27 PM · #19
Remember of seen my topic about my new bench? I've stripped the fabric off the bench right now (one hell of a job!), and waiting for the new fabric to do it myself.

Two tips: take photos of the process of stripping the couch and write down the steps you make. That way you can put the new fabric back to the couch starting with the end of your stripping-process.

I hope to do it somewhere next week, so I'll keep you posted!
01/14/2009 12:32:40 PM · #20
DAMHIKT, but unless you need a new hobby/career option, you'll get better results with less frustration leaving it to the pros.
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