How to Rebuild a Sofa: 11 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Rebuild a Sofa: 11 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Rebuild a Sofa: 11 Steps (with Pictures)

Refurbishing furniture is a great way to personalize mass-produced furniture or furniture whose upholstery has seen better days. The process can be difficult, but it's definitely worth it, especially if you like do-it-yourself projects. With a little help and a little knowledge, this project can be fun and constructive.


Method 1 of 2: Removing the Old Upholstery

Step 1. Find the right sofa

Believe it or not, most furniture is designed to be retrofitted, just as cars are designed to be modified. Just because the fabric of an old sofa has seen better days doesn't mean the sofa needs to be dumped in the garbage pile. One's garbage is another's luxury.

Step 2. Choose a sofa that fits your taste

At the very least, look for furniture whose style can be adapted to something pleasant when it's done.

Step 3. Take photos of the sofa before the process

Photograph the appearance of the sofa before taking it apart, especially during the "destroy" process. Take pictures of the inside and the outside, the front and the back, and take a close-up of areas that might be difficult.

Sofas aren't like complicated machines, but this kind of project can be time-consuming. So it's a good idea to have a "photo memory" to use as a reference. You never know when you'll need to go back and check on the sofa before the fabric was torn

Step 4. Carefully disassemble the sofa in the following order

When removing the fabric from it, be careful not to damage the old cover or other parts that will be needed later, such as padding. Then remove the fabric in the following order:

  • With the sofa upside down or on its back, remove the cover and all the fabric from the bottom.
  • Lift up the sofa and take off the outer back, the outer part of the arms, the backrest, the inner part of the arms and the seat.
  • If the old cover still fits, you can use it as a template to cut the new fabric. Leave it around until the sofa is finished to use as a reference when needed.

Step 5. Inspect the cushions to see if filling is compromised

See if you will need to replace any padding material after disassembling the sofa. If this is the case, buy a high-quality foam (D33 to D45) that will last for several years, as cheap foam breaks easily.

High quality foams can get very expensive quickly (the cost is associated with oil, their raw material), but don't save money, or the sofa will be beautiful, but deep and uncomfortable

Method 2 of 2: Assembling the New Upholstery

Step 1. Use the photos as a guide

To create and assemble the new cover, you can consult the "photo memory" gathered before the sofa was disassembled, or ask someone more experienced for advice.

Step 2. Cut the fabric

Find a large flat area (a large table or floor) to unroll and cut the material. Use the old cover as a template for cutting. Place her pieces on the new fabric, arranging them as needed to save material.

  • At the sewn edges, cut 1.5 cm from the old seam.
  • On the stapled edges, add 5 to 7.5 cm, which will be used to pull the fabric cover over the sofa.

Step 3. Sew the fabric

Older metal and heavy fabric sewing machines work better and hold up longer than new light plastic machines. Sew along the finished edges using a zipper foot. Use a strong thread and a thick needle to sew the fabric. Leave a safety margin of 1.5 cm.

Step 4. Obtain a manual stapler to secure the new fabric to the sofa

If you don't have one, buy a good quality one and get to work.

Step 5. Begin clamping new material from the inside out

First, secure the seat; then the insides of the arms and the backrest, in that order. Whichever way you choose to secure the fabric, pull it well when securing it. Otherwise it will stretch over time.

After securing the inside, assemble and sew the cushions. If they're a little too big or too small, you can adjust the size of the area where they're going to be by loosening or squeezing the inner underside of the arms and seat. Then attach the outside of the arms and the outside back

Step 6. Be proud of your achievement when the sofa is ready

Perhaps the most important thing is to show it off.


  • Use a thick fabric. Sofas are for sitting, jumping, spilling, rubbing, moving, sleeping etc. Buy a thick, durable fabric.
  • Get it right all at once. It's worth spending a little more money on good materials.
  • It's normal that part of the process involves making new pillows. If you're buying furniture to renovate, a good rule of thumb is to find furniture that doesn't require refilling. Foam and other filling materials can be quite expensive and make your project unfeasible in terms of cost-effectiveness.
  • Find fabrics on sale.
  • For wood: solid wood can be varnished again to be darker, lighter or different. If you want to give a new finish to the wood, remove the upholstery and as much of the other materials as possible before applying the product.
  • If you need to sew, you might want to wait to do this at the last minute, just in case any of the following things need to be changed: fabric, pad thickness, colors, wood veneer, etc. If you're sewing yourself, use the old pillows as templates, as they're made to fit the sofa.
  • The furniture is unique, and even professional upholsterers have learned by doing. Some things you can only learn and get right by making mistakes a few times, and unfortunately, sofas often fall into this category.
  • Try to find furniture that doesn't require a lot of sewing on your part.


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