How To Reupholster A Sectional Couch

You love your sectional; after years of use, it has become part of the family. But it’s getting dingy, and the stains are piling up! How can you save it? Perhaps you just want a new look for your sectional. Reupholstering sounds like a scary and complicated project to take on, but with our guide on reupholstering, your couch will be looking new again in no time. 

To reupholster a sectional, follow these steps: 

  1. Choose A New Fabric
  2. Carefully Remove Old Fabric
  3. Replace Foam & Batting (if necessary)
  4. Cut New Fabric
  5. Staple New Fabric
  6. Reupholster Seat and Back Cushions

Using these six simple steps, you won’t have any problems reupholstering your sectional. Keep reading for detailed explanations on each step of the process and additional information on what tools you will need to complete your project. We’ll have that sectional looking and feeling like new in no time!

An off-white sectional sofa with a white screen on the background, How To Reupholster A Sectional Couch

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Required Tools: 

  • Sewing Scissors or Electric Scissors
  • Sewing Machine
  • Staple Gun and Staples
  • Zippers
  • Sewing Pins
  • Seam Ripper
  • Thread
  • Tack Strip
  • Upholstery Batting
  • Upholstery Pins
  • Needlenose Pliers or Staple Puller
  • Hammer
  • Measuring Tape
  • Foam (if needed)
  • Spray Glue
  • Utility Knife
  • Upholstery Fabric
  • Thin Cardboard

Step 1: Choose Your New Fabric

One of the great things about reupholstering your couch is the freedom to choose a fabric you love. Just keep in mind that certain patterns may be more difficult to work with than others. Stripes can be a problematic choice because they can be difficult to keep in line, leaving you with wavy lines instead. Avoid continuous patterns that require precision. You will need to use heavy-duty upholstery fabric that is capable of withstanding the stress of everyday use.

Europatex Pandora Upholstery Fabric

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This upholstery fabric has great reviews, and the subtle gray tone is easy to fit into any decor. Click here to see this product on Amazon.

Step 2: Carefully Remove The Old Fabric

Remove the cushions and put them somewhere out of the way for now. We’ll get to them later. Turn the sectional over so you can easily get underneath where the fabric is secured to the frame. Use your pliers or a staple puller to remove the staples and free the fabric from the piece. Then, set the old fabric aside for the next step.

Label each piece of fabric with a sharpie as you pull it off the couch. Labeling comes in handy when you are ready to put the new fabric on. You should also label and take note of any cardboard or tack pins you come across, as these can be re-used. It would also be beneficial to take photos as you remove pieces.

JING Heavy Duty Staple Puller

Staple pullers will save you a lot of time and energy during this project. Click here to check them out on Amazon.

Step 3: Replace Foam & Batting

Replace the foam and batting on the couch’s frame if it is severely stained or holding odors. If you need to replace it, carefully pull the old foam and batting off. If it doesn’t pull off easily, you may need to cut it with the utility knife. Use caution to prevent any damage to the material underneath (usually cardboard).

With the old foam removed, measure the areas you’re replacing and cut the new foam to fit. The fabric scissors should work well for this. Use your spray glue to adhere the foam to the couch, and apply staples around the foam’s edges to add extra hold. Avoid using staples in visible areas because they may leave an impression that can be seen after the new fabric is applied. With the foam attached, you can use the batting to cover it then staple the batting in place on the edges.

Foamspot Upholstery Foam

This roll of upholstery foam is 1-inch thick, making it perfect for the arms, rails, and back of the couch. Click here to see it on Amazon.

Step 4: Cut the New Fabric

Clear a large space on the floor to lay the new fabric down flat. Get the old fabric that you removed from the couch earlier and lay it flat on top of the new fabric. Pin the old fabric to the new fabric to hold it in place, and use your scissors to cut the new fabric in the same shape and size as the old material. Electric scissors are great for large projects like these, and they do a better job of preventing the fabric from fraying.

Great Working Tools Electric Scissors

These electric scissors come with blades for fabric and hard materials, like cardboard, making them the perfect reupholstery tool. Click here to check them out on Amazon.

Step 5: Staple New Fabric

Now that you have all your fabric pieces cut out and ready, you can start applying them to the couch. This is where your organizational skills from earlier are really going to shine. Apply each new piece of fabric in the same manner as the old fabric was attached. Make sure to stretch the fabric tightly, so you don’t end up with a saggy, wrinkled sofa. If the old piece of fabric was folded into a piece of cardboard, do the same with the new piece. Staple the fabric along the bottom of the couch, where the old fabric was stapled. 

Use thin cardboard or tack strips to give shape in difficult areas -like the crease under the arm or the couch’s front. For the front of the sectional, flip the fabric back, exposing about an inch from the couch’s edge. Lay the strips of cardboard across the flipped fabric’s edge and staple it down. Flip the fabric back over for a perfect hidden seam. For the curve under the outside arms of the couch, use the same method.

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Step 6: Reupholster Seat and Back Cushions

Unzip the seat cushions and remove the foam cushion forms. If the foam is in good shape, you can re-use it, but if it is stained, mildewed, or contains odor, it is best to replace it. Use a seam ripper to remove the zipper if you want to re-use it.

Measure the cushion form’s front and back and cut the new fabric at least four inches longer on all sides to allow ample space for the cushion form and seams. Use sewing pins to outline a seam of at least 5/8 inches and begin sewing your cushion covers. Leave the back for last and sew on your zipper, then reinsert the cushion forms, and you’re done.

Is It Worth Reupholstering A Sectional?

This depends on the condition of the sectional. When the sectional’s structural integrity is already compromised beyond repair, it wouldn’t be a wise investment to reupholster the sectional. If the wood frame has rotted, or the seat springs are twisted and poke through, it may be time for a new sofa. However, if the couch’s anatomy is in excellent shape, but the cushions are a little dank, then this is a project for you.

What Is The Best Fabric For Reupholstering A Sectional?

Upholstery fabric is highly recommended; however, it can get pricey. Some people have been known to use drop cloths as upholstery fabric to save a few bucks, and it does work well, but it limits the colors and prints available. Others have had success with thick curtain material from secondhand stores or even shower curtains.

How Long Does It Take To Reupholster A Sectional?

This depends on the size of your sectional and how many hands are working on the project. It can easily take a single person two days to reupholster a small sectional. If you have a larger couch, count on an additional day or two. Having an additional person to help can cut the time a little and make it easier to flips the furniture around as needed.

How Much Does It Cost To Reupholster A Sectional?

Professional reupholstery can easily cost upwards of $1,500, so doing it yourself will definitely save you some money. Reupholstering your own sectional can range anywhere between $50 and several hundred dollars depending on your chosen materials. Using something like drop cloth or secondhand curtains will certainly save you money, but it may not accomplish the look you were hoping for. Getting fabric from a store will increase cost, but it may be worth it if you love the way it looks. 

Kick Back And Relax

Now that you know how to reupholster your sectional, you can save yourself a ton of money by upcycling your sofa yourself, and you can update your living room. Remember to use caution whenever you are working with scissors, sewing machines, and staples. Now go pick a fabric and start planning your next project.

What’s Your Next Home Project

Now that you’re prepared to give your sectional a facelift get some inspiration for new decor from our blog “How to Place a Rug Under a Sectional Sofa.”

Plan on updating your throw pillows to complete your new look? Find inspiration on our blog “27 Types Of Throw Pillows You Need To Know About.”

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