How to Reupholster a Couch: Step-by-Step DIY Tutorial

Last updated on March 29, 2024

In this comprehensive DIY tutorial, you’ll learn the step-by-step process to reupholster your couch and give it a fresh, new look.

Key takeaways:

  • Reupholstery gives new life to old and worn-out couches.
  • Tools/materials needed: fabric, staple gun, screwdriver, foam, scissors.
  • Follow step-by-step instructions for measuring, removing, adding stuffing, attaching fabric.
  • Consider hiring a professional for complex designs or structural repairs.
  • Reupholstering can be cost-effective and extend the life of your couch.

Table of Contents

What Is Reupholstery?

Reupholstery involves stripping down a piece of furniture to its frame, replacing or repairing its support system and then covering it with new fabric. This process can give an outdated or worn sofa a fresh look and feel, essentially transforming it into a new piece. It’s an effective way to preserve a cherished item that may have structural integrity but needs aesthetic revamping.

Reupholstering can also be more sustainable than buying new, as it extends the life of existing furniture. Moreover, for those with heirlooms or pieces of particular sentimental value, reupholstery allows the retention of memories associated with the item, while updating it to match contemporary interiors.

What You’ll Need (Equipment/Tools/Materials)

Before diving into the reupholstery process, ensure you have the following items:

  • Upholstery fabric: Choose a durable fabric that complements your decor and meets your functional needs. Measure your couch to determine the required yardage, adding extra for pattern matching, if necessary.
  • Staple gun and staples: For attaching fabric to the couch frame.
  • Screwdriver: To disassemble any parts of the couch that require removal for reupholstery.
  • Needle-nose pliers: Utilized for removing old staples and nails.
  • Upholstery tacks or nails: In some designs, these secure the fabric and provide decorative detail.
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter: For cutting fabric and trimming excess material.
  • Upholstery foam: To replace worn or uncomfortable padding.
  • Batting: Adds an additional layer of padding and smooths out contours.
  • Sewing machine or hand-sewing supplies: If your couch design includes areas that need stitching.
  • Chalk or fabric marking pen: To mark cut lines on your fabric.
  • Measuring tape: For accurate measurements of the couch and fabric sections.

This collection of tools and materials will set a solid foundation for your reupholstery project, ensuring you’re prepared for each step of the transformation.

Instructions for Reupholstery (Includes Measuring, Removing, Adding Stuffing, Refinishing, Attaching New Fabric)

Begin by measuring your couch to determine how much fabric you’ll need. Add extra inches to account for the depth of the cushions and any mistakes. Next, carefully remove the old fabric, taking note of how the couch was originally upholstered to aide in reassembly.

Inspect the couch’s frame and springs for any necessary repairs. If the cushions feel saggy, consider adding or replacing the stuffing. Use high-density foam for durability and comfort.

Sanding and refinishing the frame and legs can give your couch a fresh look. Choose a stain or paint that complements your new fabric.

Lay the new fabric on a clean, flat surface and cut it using your measurements as a guide. Attach the fabric to the frame, starting from the center and moving outwards to avoid wrinkles. Use a staple gun for a secure hold and trim any excess.

Remember to pull the fabric taut and fold neatly around the corners. Finish off by covering the staples with a dust cover and reattaching the legs.

When to Call a Professional

Deciding to tackle a couch reupholstery project on your own can be a rewarding DIY endeavor, but there are instances where enlisting the expertise of a professional upholsterer is the better choice:

  • Complex Designs: Couches with intricate details such as tufting, unusual shapes, or unique stitch work may require the precision of an experienced hand.
  • Structural Repairs: If the couch requires internal repairs to springs, frames, or other structural elements, professionals have the tools and knowledge to restore it safely and correctly.
  • High-Value Furniture: Antique or heirloom pieces that hold significant value should be entrusted to specialists to preserve their integrity and beauty.
  • Quality of Fabric: Working with expensive or delicate materials, such as leather or velvet, might yield better results when done by a professional to avoid costly mistakes.
  • Time Constraints: If you’re short on time or the couch needs to be ready for use by a specific date, a professional can ensure timely completion without sacrificing quality.

Recognizing the limitations of your own skills and the scope of the project is crucial for achieving the best outcome for your couch’s transformation.


Is it hard to reupholster a couch by yourself?

While achievable, reupholstering a couch by oneself can be a challenging DIY task due to its time-consuming nature and the necessity for thorough research and meticulous planning.

Can I reupholster my own couch?

Yes, you can reupholster your own couch, although it’s a time-consuming task best suited for advanced-level DIY enthusiasts, but with motivation, an intermediate sewer could also succeed.

How much should it cost to reupholster a sofa?

The cost to reupholster a sofa typically ranges from $500 to $4500, primarily influenced by labor costs of $40-$100 per hour and fabric cost ranging from $10-$70 per yard, resulting in an average total cost of $1800.

Is it worth it to reupholster a couch?

Considering the durability of older sofa frames, it can be highly advantageous to reupholster your existing couch if it’s from an older generation.

What materials are needed to successfully reupholster a couch?

To successfully reupholster a couch, one would need upholstery fabric, a staple gun, staples, scissors, a sewing machine, upholstery thread, a seam ripper, batting, upholstery foam, upholstery needles and pliers.

How long does the process of reupholstering a couch usually take?

The process of reupholstering a couch typically takes around 1 to 3 weeks, depending upon the complexity of the design and the upholsterer’s schedule.

Are there any special techniques to employ when reupholstering antique or unique couch designs?

When reupholstering antique or unique couch designs, utilize special techniques such as careful deconstruction to study old fabric attachment methods, use of appropriate fabrics that match the era of the furniture, and preservation of any original details where possible.

You may also like to read: