Top 5 Mistakes DIY’ers Make When ReUpholstering


As an uncertain economy and a desire to be more self-sufficient leads the hands of  many consumers into the appealing yet often pre-mature world of DIY’ers, the need for a guided professional approach continues to grow. And while preserving one’s spending by doing-it-yourself certainly makes sense when on a budget, often times creatives wind up spending much more than planned in time and money. In the end, winding up frustrated, broke, and with an unfinished project still sitting there. From the results of improper measuring methods and careless evaluation of reupholstery needs, to poor fabric choices and underestimated project complexity, no matter what situation applies, learn to avoid the following do-it-yourself furniture reupholstery mistakes to increase your chances for a successful outcome.


Mistake #1: Starting a project that is not suitable for reupholstering to begin with.

While antique home furnishings tend to hold sentimental value, the biggest and easiest mistake most people make when starting a DIY reupholstery project is not carefully evaluating whether the furniture is suitable for reupholstering to begin with. Is the framework in good condition? Are the joints glued together or supported with sturdy dowel joints? Are the springs strong? When these structural points are overlooked, newbie DIY’ers often find themselves with a much bigger project on their hands or one not worth doing at all. Replacing the shell (fabric) alone may make it look good, but if the springs are all sprung out, the wood frame is cracked, or the joints are weak and wobbly, you will need to do more. A professional upholsterer may need to be called.

Mistake #2: Tackling a furniture project that is too complex and difficult.

Many DIYer’s attempt projects that look simple on the onset, but once they start taking things apart, realize they got in over their head. Without a clear understanding of the nuts and bolts of the project, they often turn to Youtube for Google for guidance. The problem here is that it often takes time to find an accurate source you can trust. The other issue is that not all methods work for all furniture repairs. An antique custom lounge chair in need of structural repair for instance, might have different reupholstery needs depending its condition.


Mistake #3: Choosing the wrong type of fabric

A common pitfall in a pre-mature DIY reupholstery project is choosing the wrong type of fabric. Although different types of fabric can be used, there are still many factors to consider. Will the fabric be used on indoor or outdoor furnishings?  Will your fabric choice be suitable enough to handle normal wear or will it need to handle the additional wear and tear of children and/or pets as well?

Another mistake people make in this area is selecting stripes or patterned fabrics for round or oddly shaped cushions.  The stretching of the fabric required for proper application will pull the stripes or pattern out of wack leaving crooked stripes or a warped pattern. Fabric choices that only meet the visual appeal for a project can be costly in the end when such scenarios are not considered. A professional upholsterer will be able to offer sound fabric options for such a dilemma.


Mistake #4: Starting a project without the proper tools.

Just as pre-mature DIY’ers sometimes underestimate the time and labor intensity of  seemingly quick and easy upholstery projects, others also undermine the kinds of tools needed to complete them. With jobs underway, it is often not until already started that the lack of such tools becomes apparent. This will not only cause unnecessary delays, it may also make a relatively simple project harder that it needs to be. Tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, and standard staple guns are a basic necessity for such projects, but more professional tools such as air compressed staple guns with thicker staples and tools designed to take out all the old staples less tediously is often needed.


Mistake #5:  Replacing the foam and not the webbing.

Upholstery webbing is one of the materials found in most chairs or sofas. It’s used to create a firm seat for the cushion. Without webbing,  furniture projects won’t have that same firmness and  furniture would be unusable.  Most DIYers  forget to replace webbing thinking that by just replacing the foam, it’s enough to secure the seat. This mistake is a reminder that quality foam and durable webbing are essential to comfortable and lasting seating.

The most common misconception about both DIY and professional reupholstering is that it’s just about replacing the fabric. Upholstering and re-upholstering can be a time and labor intensive process that involves specialized skills, tools and construction materials. For do-it-yourselfer’s who are up for the task, the sustainable act of taking on reupholstering projects is one to be commended.

At Summerdale Mills / J&OFabrics, completing an upholstery project with integrity and lasting measure is what separates us from the rest. Our professional services include stripping the frames, reinforcing the joints, customizing cording finish to cover newly placed staples, replacing  zig-zag and coiled 8-way hand tie springs, then filling, padding and covering with new fabric. 

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