How to Reupholster a Sofa — With 9 Easy Steps

how to reupholster a sofa
Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Maybe you feel the need to personalize furniture that has been produced in mass. Or you want to revamp a sofa that has seen better days.

Maybe you need a sofa but you cannot afford a new one on your budget. So you get an old one for cheap but you do not like its look.

For whatever reason you need to reupholster a sofa, we are here for you. You should know it will not be an easy stress-free experience.

You may have to spend a lot of hours on it.

To know how to reupholster a sofa, follow the detailed steps in this article. And in the end, we promise all your stress will be worth it.

Things You Need to Know

Before we get started, there are certain things we need you know.

You should consider getting more fabrics than what you need. You just might need the extra fabric.

Every sofa is different, and so you need to be precise in your measurement. This article may give some measurement for clarity, but we expect you to take yours.

We feel the need to reiterate that this project will take a lot of time. It is not a few hours project. You should be willing to dedicate your time to it.

Please, put on some work shoes. You will pull out some nails and you really don’t want to step on any of them.

Now, let us get down to it!

You Will Need

For this project, you will need the following supplies:

Flathead screwdriver

Stable gun

Upholstery fabrics. We recommend the eLuxurySupply Upholstery Sewing Fabrics

Rigid metal tacking strips, 10 pieces

About two packs of 8/32 cording.

About two packs of Heavy-duty staples.

Thread (depending on the color of fabric you picked)

Heavy Duty Top Leg Plate, 4 pieces

Dust cover


Batting. We recommend IZO Bonded Dacron Upholstery Batting.

100 feet Curve Ease

Needle nose pliers

Rubber mallet

Take Measurements

The first step to reupholstering your sofa is taking measurements. You need to measure the sofa’s visible fabric. Some hidden pieces of upholstery may be needed as well.

This includes:

i. Batting. This is the puffy layer found beneath the upholstery. If the old batting still looks good, then there is no point in replacing it.

ii. Interior fabric. This is the upholstery that is found inside the part of the sofa that is sat on.

iii. Outer sofa fabric. This is found on the sofa’s shell.

iv. Cording. This is the round cord that is at the seams.

v. Cambric. Made of thin material, this piece of upholstery is used to cover the sofa’s underside.

You have to keep a tab on your measurement. This can be achieved using a table. In your table, include the piece, number of the piece needed, the length and width of the fabric. Make sure to add allowance to the table as well.

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This table will help you remember the material you need and the exact quantity.

Take an allowance

When taking the measurement, you need to add a few inches to what you measured. This excess is known as an allowance.

Allowance is necessary. This is because you cannot see all the fabrics when you take your measurements.

There are places fabrics are used to hold down the rest of the fabric in place. And they are hidden from sight.

The allowance, therefore, makes up for the part of the fabric you did not get to measure.

We recommend that you add an allowance of about 4 inches to the length and width of every piece of fabric.

Make a Pattern with a Paper

The next step is to make a pattern using paper. This will save you the stress of wasting your fabric.

Grab enough paper and draw up each piece on a small scale. With this plan, you will get an idea of what you will end up doing when you get your fabric.

Ensure to scale your already taken measurement to a little size so it will be achievable with paper.

Time to “Destroy” Your Sofa

Now, you have to “destroy” your sofa, albeit constructively. Do not just hack at the sofa. If you do this, you may very well end up actually destroying the sofa.

This is because in the end, you may not know how to put the sofa back together. Take apart the chair step by step, taking note (literally) of every detail.

Write out on your note what went where first. And which side had staples and tack strips. Every step you take, document on your note.

Your note will come in handy when you start to reassemble your sofa. You may also consider taking pictures each step of the way. This will give a visual explanation for everything on your note.

Now follow the four steps below to take apart your sofa.

Flip Your Sofa Upside-Down

The very first to do is turn your sofa over. So far, so good yeah? Then take off the legs of the sofa. Next take off the dust cover.

Time to proceed to step two.

Take out All Staples from the Bottom

Use a plier to take out all staples you find on the sofa’s bottom. This process may be more time-consuming than you think; you may consider getting some help. And we hope you have your work shoes on.

Carefully take out the Old Upholstery

Figure out which piece you need to remove first. With some sofas, the outside back will be what you take out first.

After removing the staples here, you may find the edge of the fabrics held down by some tack strips.

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You have to get these tack strips off. To do this, put your plier in the fabric fold, right where the tack strip is. Gently pull it off, it should come off easily.

You may have to repeat this process for the two sides. 

Take Off the Remaining Fabric Pieces

Your process from this point depends on your sofa’s build. This is because every sofa is unique. And our instruction from this point may not match your sofa’s construction.

You have to be careful with your procedure. And do not forget to take notes of your steps. The pieces of the old fabric may come in handy for a measurement check. You may consider keeping them.

Cover up The Sofa Base and Spring

Now that you have succeeded in taking your sofa apart, it is time to rebuild it. The first step in achieving this is covering up the base and spring again.

Evenly spread out a sheet cut to the size of the sofa’s base down on the surface. Now, place batting and staple both the sheet and the batting down. Be sure to staple it as evenly as possible as any irregular shape may show through the cover.

Put a layer of batting around the sofa’s base. Next, get the fabric that will be used to cover up the base.

Make sure you got the right measurement. This piece needs to be sewn.

Begin with sewing the inner fabric that will cover the batting of the spring. You may consider using a cheaper fabric like muslin here since it will not be visible.

Make out the corners for the fabric so it can easily go over the sofa’s base.

Apply another batting layer across the base’s front. This will help provide support to the base top.

Once, you get this part right, your sofa will begin to take form.

Check out this video for a visual explanation of all that have been discussed so far.

Prepare your cording

Cut it up to the size of the piece you intend to use them on. We recommend you use the cording for the fronts and sides of each arm.

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You may also use them for the top of the sofa. This will give your work an extra nice finish.

Place fabric over the cording and then sew your fabric.

Cover up The Arm

Covering up the arm is easily the most tiresome part of this project. However, count on us to walk you through it.

Begin by placing batting on both sides of the arms. Attach your already prepared cording to the front and side of each arm. Place your fabric over the arm.

Create small folds with the fabrics, starting from outside the arm. Then move upwards, around and finally down. Make sure to staple after every fold.

In the end, give it a clean finish by folding the fabric under and then staple it down.

Make sure to pull the fabric tight before stapling to avoid crease. Trim off the excess fabric and then repeat the procedure at the back of the arm.

Cover up The Back

The next thing to do is to cover up the sofa’s inside back. We recommend you use 2 layers of batting to provide ample cushion to the sofa.

You may choose to apply your cording to the sofa’s top edge. Put back the sofa’s outside back. Use the Curve-Ease right beside the cording.

With a tack strip, tack in the vertical sides on both right and left corners.

Now, staple right down to the bottom of the sofa, shutting down the sofa’s back.

Cover up the Pillows and Cushions

Cover up your cushions with new batting. Cut up fabrics for the cushions using the old covers you removed from them.

Sew in zippers to the back of the cushion covers. The zippers will make it possible to take off the covers when they need washing.

Once you put in the zippers, sew the cushion walls to the fabric cutouts. Both the bottoms and tops.

For the pillows, measure the old pillows. With this measurement, use your new fabric to sew new pillows. Use Poly-Fil stuffing to stuff them.

Attach the Legs and Dust Cover

The last thing you have to do is attach your dust cover then the legs on the sofa. Place the dust cover over the bottom of the sofa and staple it onto the sofa.

Once you are done stapling the dust cover to the sofa, cut off all the excess.

Grab your sofa legs, you may decide to DIY it or get it from a store. Attach the legs brackets to all edges of the sofa’s base. Now screw in the legs.

Yay! You have succeeded in reupholstering your sofa. The only thing you have to do now is show off your handiwork.

Check out this article for how to reupholster your dining room chairs.

We genuinely believe you will get this right. However, if for some reason, you were unable to achieve the desired result, the only solution to this is to get a new sofa.

We recommend Container Furniture Velvet Upholstered Sofa

Final Words

Reupholstering a sofa can be a very tedious and tiring process. However, it is one project you will greatly enjoy. Especially if you are keen on DIY.

In this article, we have discussed all the steps you need to reupholster your sofa.

If you have further comments or questions, let us know in the comment section below. We will make sure to attend to them.    

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