Reupholster It Yourself, or Find a Professional?
Watching tutorials online can make difficult projects seem easy. Here’s how you can judge for yourself whether a reupholstery project is manageable for you to tackle, or whether you need a pro.
Don’t get me wrong — there are definitely certain small projects that beginners can handle. But with more complicated furniture pieces, including antiques, you run the risk of seriously messing up the piece.
Recovering vs. Reupholstering
Recovering a piece of furniture is a shortcut, meaning you’re simply putting new fabric over the old fabric. Reupholstering is completely different. You are replacing not only the fabric, but possibly installing new foam and batting, or other inserts.
Good Projects for Beginners
Basic projects, casually called “whack and tack” projects, are a great way to start. In these types of jobs, you’re just pulling fabric around a surface wrapped in padding and then stapling it in place. A good example are dining room chairs with drop seats. Because the seats are usually square, the most complex part is figuring out how to fold the corners.
Another good project for beginners is a simple covered headboard. To make one, get a piece of plywood cut to size, add padding to it, and then wrap and staple the fabric around it. Try to avoid thick fabrics like leather or vinyl, as they can be hard to fold.
Projects Where You Need a Pro
As a rule, any job that needs complete reupholstering, like ottomans, sofas or club chairs, will be too complex for a beginner. For these types of projects, you want the finished product to look professional and it’s not worth taking the risk of ruining the piece by attempting it yourself.
Similarly, take any piece of furniture with foundation issues, such as a wobbly frame or loose leg, to an expert. Those are issues you definitely don’t want to take a chance on.
The exception? A project piece you pick up cheap for the sole purpose of learning. If that’s the case, by all means find an inexpensive fabric, try your hand at fixing any foundation issues, and go for it!