Common Amateur Upholstery Mistakes – And How Not To Make Them!

For the most part, I tend not to be judgmental. It’s your furniture – do what you like with it! But when it comes to even simple upholstery, there are just plain wrong ways to do things and we’d like to show you the RIGHT way to do it instead.

Our example seat (done by yours truly when I had no idea what I was doing) has some big mistakes: 2 layers of fabric (eek!), adhered with staples from an 18 gauge pneumatic stapler bought at a hardware store, and dacron wrapped over the edge of the wood. So, lesson #1: use fine wire upholstery staples and an electric or pneumatic upholstery stapler! You can use a manual fine wire stapler (we do sell one) but you’ll have be to really strong to penetrate some hardwoods.

Lesson #2: strip the seat first. Always. Really. It creates the best finish and it’s the only way to know what’s going on with the foam underneath.

A slip seat, e.g. dining room chair seat, is one of the simplest upholstery projects and one that most people try to tackle on their own. You’ll see lots of videos showing how easy it is…but some of those videos do not follow best (or even good) practices. Slip Seat Upholstery *is* simple but, without the correct preparation and tools, when you (or the next person) go to recover those seats, it can become a nightmare.

Once you’ve properly prepared your slip seat (i.e. you’ve completely stripped it!), you can evaluate the state of the foam – and see if another amateur mistake has been made! (Hint: on this piece, you bet it has!) Dacron should always layer between the foam and the fabric in order to minimize rubbing (this makes the fabric last longer) and add plushness, but DON’T staple the Dacron under the edge like I did. Lesson #3: Staple fabric and wood only for a clean finish.

Here endeth today’s lesson on good upholstery techniques. Stay tuned to our YouTube channel for our upcoming step by step slip seat (dining room chair) upholstery instructional video.

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