Beginner’s Guide to Reupholster an Old Sofa

The method of stripping away old material from sofas or any other furniture and restoring it with better fabric is known as reupholstering.


You might be wondering if reupholstering a sofa is worth it or not. The answer is not a straightforward positive or negative as it depends on several variables. If you plan to reupholster an old sofa, you should consider some factors before doing expensive work. While hauling a sofa to a landfill may seem like a waste, you should be aware that upholstering an old sofa may cost more than buying a new one. Additionally, keep in mind that upholstering an old, uncomfortable sofa will not make it better unless you also change its internals.

If it is a Valuable Antique

Reupholstering a couch that has been in your family for over a generation and has cost you a lot of money makes perfect sense. This isn’t something which can be quickly replaced with a new one. In this case, you can restore the antique by reupholstering. Find a qualified professional to do it, but it will be expensive.

If the Frames are Still in a Good Shape

If your sofa is of high quality or has an abnormal frame, reupholstering makes sense. Reupholstering is expected to be less expensive than purchasing a similar couch. This situation is not common, but you may have a very good sofa that can be rejuvenated by re-covering it with new fabrics.

If the Restoring Cost is Lower

If the sofa is of very good quality, and the cost of refurbishing is lower than purchasing a new one, then refurbishing is the clear solution. You might want to get quotes for all the fabrics and parts from two or three different vendors and then weigh it against the price of a new sofa of the same quality.

Remember, there is a difference between re-covering and rearranging. Recovering involves only replacing the fabric, which is more of a finishing process. Reupholstering may require replacing pads and springs, repairing the frame, or retaining any wood.

Reupholstering a sofa is an exciting and challenging project that can help you give your old sofa a new look. Reupholstering can also save you money.

What do You Need to Reupholster the Sofa?

Reupholstering is the method of extracting old material from sofas and restoring it with newer material. The following list consists of the equipment and resources you may need for your reupholstering project:

* Staples
* Staple Gun
* Staplers
* Slotted screwdriver
* Clamps
* Strong scissors
* New fabric
* Sewing machine
* Decoration or wire
* Fabric glue

In case you are wondering about the materials you need for the process, here is a guide from Tom Bradly about staple guns and staplers for upholstery projects.

How to Reupholster a Sofa

Reupholstering a sofa or a two-seater is not an easy DIY project. It takes patience and careful attention. Check out the step-by-step guide when you’re ready to begin a reupholstery project:

Analyze the Sofa

The first step in any reupholstering project is to understand the structure of the sofa you are working with. Where is the base? Is there a cover? Is there a cluster of buttons? Is there any visible rope at the seam? Is there a skirt? Taking notes and photos for future reference can save a lot of time when you need to reconstruct the sofa.

Remove the Base

Most sofas will nail a layer of lightweight fabric on the bottom of the sofa, which is the dust cover. This is usually the very last bit of fabric to be tied to the couch, so it will be the first to come off. Remove the staples from around the cover with the staple remover.

Remove the Decorative Pieces

After removing the dust cover, you will be able to see how other decorative pieces on the sofa are stretched and bound to the frame. Take a look at the layering, and then first remove the top layer of the upholstery fabric. 

You need to know the order of disassembling these fabrics, the placement of these parts, their placement direction on the sofa, the stretching method and attachment position of the fabric, and whether there are special precautions when disassembling the fabric. When attaching new fabrics, you need to copy these details.

Cut New Fabrics in Proper Shapes

You can use the old fabric on the sofa as a guide when buying and sizing new fabric. You can choose any decorative fabric you want, but remember that the thinner the fabric, the faster it will show signs of wear. However, binding durable fabrics to the sofa frame is more difficult than binding lighter fabrics.

Attaching the Fabrics to the Sofa

Using your notes as a guide, connect the new upholstery fabric in reverse order; the last piece you removed will be the first to reattach. Use the staple gun to staple the fabric back to the frame. If in doubt, please refer to your notes and photos. Tighten the fabric when decorating—you do not want the sofa to hang awkwardly or look too wrinkled because of the loose fabric.

Add Items if Needed

If you have rope decorations on your sofa to cover up the staples, you should buy a matching rope. Attach them with fabric glue to make your sofa look more beautiful.

Sew Pillowcases

If your sofa has a back or seat cushion, you also need to sew new pillowcases. Follow the same steps used when disassembling the decoration; cut the covers and use them as a pattern for cutting the new fabric. This step will require a sewing machine, but just follow the stitching of the old cushion to make similar zippers.


You will adjust the design of the sofa as well as making other adjustments when reupholstering. Try incorporating or altering other features to have a more decorative appearance to truly alter the form and design of the sofa.

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