Is Sofa Re-upholstery Worth It?

Is Sofa Re-upholstery Worth It? A Guide to Breathing New Life into Your Beloved Couch

Sofas are the anchors of our living rooms, offering comfort, style, and a place to gather with loved ones. But even the most cherished couch can succumb to the wear and tear of time. Faded fabric, sagging cushions, and minor tears can leave you wondering: is it time to replace your sofa, or can sofa re-upholstery offer a second chance?

The decision to reupholster hinges on a variety of factors, from the condition of your sofa to your budget and personal preferences. This guide will explore the pros and cons of reupholstery, helping you determine if it’s the right choice for your beloved piece of furniture.

The Allure of Sofa Re-upholstery: Renewing, Restoring, and Reviving

Reupholstery offers a compelling alternative to buying a new sofa. Here are some of the key benefits to consider:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: In many cases, reupholstering a well-made sofa is significantly cheaper than purchasing a brand new one of comparable quality. The cost of reupholstery depends on the size and style of the sofa, the fabric chosen, and the complexity of the work. However, it typically falls within the range of £500 to £2000, which can be considerably less than the price of a new sofa.
  • Environmental Sustainability: The furniture industry has a significant environmental footprint. By giving your existing sofa a makeover, you’re diverting it from landfills and reducing the demand for new furniture production, which often involves resource extraction and energy consumption. Reupholstery is a more eco-friendly choice that promotes sustainability.
  • Quality and Craftsmanship: Well-made sofas, especially older ones, often boast superior craftsmanship and materials compared to many mass-produced sofas available today. Reupholstery allows you to preserve the quality frame and structure of your existing sofa while updating its look and feel.
  • Customisation and Personalisation: Reupholstery opens a world of design possibilities. You’re not limited to the standard fabrics and colours offered by manufacturers. With reupholstery, you can choose the exact fabric that complements your décor, creating a truly unique piece that reflects your personal style.
  • Sentimental Value: Many sofas hold sentimental value, carrying memories of family gatherings and cherished moments. Reupholstery allows you to breathe new life into a beloved piece while preserving its sentimental worth.

Assessing Your Sofa: Is It a Candidate for Reupholstery?

Not all sofas are created equal, and some may be better suited for reupholstery than others. Here are some key factors to consider when evaluating your sofa’s potential for a reupholstery makeover:

  • Frame Construction: The frame is the foundation of your sofa. Look for a frame made from solid hardwood, such as oak, maple, or walnut. These frames are strong and durable, making them excellent candidates for reupholstery. Avoid sofas with frames made from particleboard or softwood, as they may not withstand the reupholstery process.
  • Spring System: The spring system provides support and comfort to your sofa. The most desirable spring systems are 8-way hand-tied springs. These springs are individually tied, offering superior support and longevity. Check for loose or sagging springs, as these may require additional repairs before reupholstery.
  • Cushion Construction: The condition of the cushions also plays a role. Well-made cushions typically have a combination of down and feathers or high-quality foam. If the cushions are simply flattened or lumpy, they may be refilled during the reupholstery process. However, if the cushions are sagging significantly or have broken down entirely, reupholstery may not be the most economical option.
  • Fabric Condition: Minor tears, stains, or fading are all fixable with reupholstery. However, extensive damage or tears that compromise the structural integrity of the fabric may be a sign that it’s time for a new sofa.

Beyond the Basics: Additional Considerations for Sofa Re-upholstery

Once you’ve determined that your sofa is a good candidate for reupholstery, there are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Finding a Qualified Upholsterer: The success of your reupholstery project hinges on the skill and experience of the upholsterer. Look for an upholsterer with a good reputation and experience working with similar types of sofas. Get quotes from several upholsterers and ask to see examples of their previous work.
  • Fabric Selection: Choosing the right fabric is crucial for both aesthetics and functionality. Consider factors like durability, stain resistance, and cleaning ease, especially if you have pets or children. Upholsterers can guide you through the selection process and provide fabric samples.
  • Hidden Costs: While reupholstery can be cost-effective, there may be hidden costs to consider. These could include repairs to the frame or spring system, additional padding for the cushions, or disposal fees for the old fabric. Be sure to discuss all potential costs with your upholsterer upfront.
  • Timeline and Inconvenience: The reupholstery process typically takes several weeks, as the upholsterer needs time to disassemble, re-upholster, and reassemble your sofa. This means you’ll be without your sofa for a period of time. Discuss the timeline with your upholsterer and plan accordingly.
  • The “New Sofa” Feeling: While reupholstery can dramatically improve the appearance of your sofa, it may not feel exactly like a brand new sofa. If you’re craving a completely different style or functionality, a new sofa might be a better choice.

The Final Verdict: Reupholster or Replace?

Ultimately, the decision of whether to reupholster or replace your sofa is a personal one. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide:

Reupholster if:

  • Your sofa has a well-made frame and spring system.
  • The cushions can be refilled or replaced.
  • You’re on a budget and want to save money.
  • You value the sentimental value of your sofa.
  • You want a unique and personalised piece of furniture.

Replace if:

  • The frame of your sofa is broken or warped.
  • The spring system is severely damaged.
  • The cushions are completely worn out and cannot be repaired.
  • You want a significant change in style or size.
  • You don’t mind letting go of the old sofa.

By considering the factors outlined above, you can make an informed decision about whether reupholstery is the right way to breathe new life into your beloved sofa. In many cases, reupholstery offers a cost-effective and sustainable way to restore the beauty and functionality of your sofa, allowing you to continue enjoying it for years to come.

For more information on “Is Sofa Re-upholstery Worth It” contact Hill Upholstery.

The Pros and Cons of Furniture Upholstery

The Pros and Cons of Furniture Upholstery : Creating a Comfortable and Stylish Haven

Furniture Upholstery has graced homes for centuries, offering a luxurious and inviting alternative to hard, unforgiving surfaces. From plush sofas to cozy armchairs, these pieces add a touch of comfort and style to any room. But before you sink into the allure of an upholstered haven, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to ensure it fits your lifestyle.

The Comfort Factor: Sinking into Bliss

One of the biggest advantages of upholstered furniture is undeniable comfort. The soft padding provides excellent back and leg support, making it ideal for relaxing after a long day. Whether you’re curling up with a good book or enjoying a movie night with family, upholstered furniture creates a cozy environment that invites you to linger.

The level of comfort can be further customised based on the type of padding. Down and feather cushions offer a luxurious sink-in feel, while firmer foam cushions provide better support for long periods of sitting. Additionally, some upholstered furniture features removable cushions, allowing you to adjust the firmness or even flip them for even wear.

Beyond Seating: Comfort isn’t limited to sofas and armchairs. Upholstered ottomans provide a comfortable place to rest your feet, while upholstered benches offer extra seating and can double as storage solutions. Upholstered headboards can transform your bed into a luxurious retreat, adding a touch of softness and warmth to your sleep sanctuary.

Style for Every Space: From Classic to Contemporary

Upholstered furniture comes in a vast array of styles, materials, and colours, offering endless possibilities to complement your décor. From classic Chesterfield sofas with button-tufted detailing to sleek, modern sectionals with clean lines, there’s a style to suit every taste.

Material Matters: The fabric choice significantly impacts the look and feel of your furniture. Leather offers a timeless elegance and is known for its durability. However, it can be more expensive and might feel cold to the touch. Fabric upholstery provides a wider range of options, from the soft and inviting texture of velvet to the more stain-resistant properties of performance fabrics.

Colour Considerations: Colour plays a vital role in setting the mood and tone of your space. Bold and vibrant colours can add a pop of personality, while neutral tones offer a calming and versatile base. Consider the overall colour scheme of your room when choosing the upholstery fabric.

Mixing and Matching: Upholstered furniture allows for creative mixing and matching. You can create a cohesive look by using the same fabric for different pieces or introduce visual interest by combining complementary colours and textures.

Maintenance Matters: Keeping Your Furniture Upholstery Looking Fresh

While undeniably comfortable and stylish, upholstered furniture requires some degree of maintenance to keep it looking its best. Here are some key considerations:

  • Cleaning: Regular cleaning with a vacuum cleaner helps remove dust, dirt, and allergens. Spot cleaning spills promptly is crucial to prevent stains from setting in. Different fabrics may require specific cleaning methods, so always check the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Sun Protection: Direct sunlight can fade upholstery fabrics over time. Consider placing furniture away from windows or using curtains for protection.
  • Pet Protection: If you have pets, choose a durable and stain-resistant fabric. Regularly brush your pet’s fur off the furniture to minimise shedding and potential scratching.

Professional Cleaning: For deep cleaning or stubborn stains, professional upholstery cleaning services are recommended. This can help revive the look of your furniture and extend its lifespan.

Durability and Lifespan: Investing in Quality

The lifespan of upholstered furniture depends on the quality of materials and construction. High-quality frames made from solid wood or hardwood will provide better support and last longer than those made from particleboard. Similarly, well-made cushions with high-density foam or a combination of foam and down feathers will offer superior comfort and retain their shape for years to come.

Beware of Bargains: While the initial cost of lower-quality upholstered furniture might be tempting, it may not be a wise investment. Cheaply made furniture can lose its shape and support quickly, leading to premature replacement.

Investment in Comfort: Consider upholstered furniture an investment in your comfort and well-being. High-quality pieces will provide years of enjoyment and can even become treasured family heirlooms.

Weighing the Options: Finding the Perfect Fit

Ultimately, the decision to choose upholstered furniture depends on your individual needs and lifestyle. Consider the following factors when making your choice:

  • Lifestyle: If you have young children or pets, a durable and stain-resistant fabric might be a wise choice.
  • Budget: High-quality upholstered furniture can be an investment, but it will last longer and provide superior comfort.
  • Maintenance: Consider how much time and effort you’re willing to put into cleaning and maintaining your furniture.
  • Style: Choose a style that complements your décor and personal taste.

Beyond the Basics: Furniture Upholstery as a Versatile Design Element

Upholstered furniture isn’t just about sofas and armchairs. It can be a versatile design element used to add comfort, texture, and visual interest to various areas of your home:

  • Dining Rooms: Upholstered dining chairs offer a more comfortable seating option compared to traditional wooden chairs, especially for long gatherings.
  • Home Offices: An upholstered desk chair can transform your workspace into a haven of comfort and productivity.
  • Nurseries and Playrooms: Upholstered ottomans or benches provide soft seating options for playtime or story time.
  • Entryways: An upholstered bench creates a welcoming spot to put on or take off shoes.
  • Bedrooms: Upholstered accent chairs in a corner can create a cozy reading nook.

The Green Factor: Sustainable Considerations

When choosing upholstered furniture, consider the environmental impact. Look for manufacturers who use sustainable materials like recycled wood for frames and eco-friendly fabrics made from recycled plastic or natural fibres like organic cotton or hemp.

Beyond Furniture: Upholstery isn’t limited to furniture. Consider reupholstering old chairs or ottomans to give them a new lease on life. This is a more sustainable and budget-friendly way to incorporate upholstered elements into your décor.

Conclusion: Furniture Upholstery – A Haven for Comfort and Style

Upholstered furniture offers a winning combination of comfort, style, and versatility. By considering the pros and cons, choosing the right materials and fabrics, and taking proper care, you can create a haven of comfort and style in your home that will last for years to come. Whether you’re looking for a plush sofa to relax on after a long day or a statement piece to add a touch of personality to your space, upholstered furniture has the potential to be the perfect fit.

For more information on The Pros and Cons of Furniture Upholstery contact Hill Upholstery.

South London Sofa Reupholstery Look Back!

We love to look back at furniture we have created and reupholstered – seeing something transformed from being tired, unloved and rundown to a stunning piece of furniture is what makes us tick! Looking back at how something evolves into a delightful item that truly complements a home helps inspire our team but also showcases to our clients why recovering is the answer rather than binning and buying brand new. Recently, we looked back at a South London sofa reupholstery project we completed…

The following images are of a project we did on sofa reupholstery for wonderful clients in South London. Their tired sofa did not look appealing and the seating needed some serious TLC. The fabric we used was Orly Tapestry by Romo which we are sure you will agree looks stunning. Our team carried out this sofa reupholstery job, receiving some fabulous feedback from the returning customers.

Take a look at the full details of this sofa reupholstery work. You can also view some of the other reupholstery work we have undertaken.

If you would be interested in finding out the difference Orly Tapestry could make to your tired and dated sofas and chairs Contact Our Team today to see what we can do for you.


Orly Tapestry Romo South London 07 Hill Upholstery

Orly Tapestry Romo South London 03 Hill Upholstery

Orly Tapestry Romo South London 01 Hill Upholstery

Orly Tapestry Romo South London 13 Hill Upholstery

Orly Tapestry Romo After Hill Upholstery

Orly Tapestry Romo Hill Upholstery

Bespoke Restaurant Seating In Bloomsbury Underway

Bespoke Restaurant Seating Bloomsbury Underway

Devoted to their craft, the skilled artisans comprising our workshop team dedicate their efforts ceaselessly, driven by the singular goal of bestowing upon your homes and businesses a touch of opulence through unparalleled seating arrangements. These carefully crafted pieces not only serve as functional amenities but also seamlessly harmonise with the existing ambiance of any room, acting as a testament to their commitment to finesse and the embodiment of a company’s distinctive identity.

With a proven track record, we’ve woven together tailor-made seating arrangements that grace the interiors of pubs, bars, and restaurants with an air of exclusivity. The ongoing endeavour finds us engrossed in the creation of bespoke restaurant seating in bloomsbury, the literary nucleus of London’s illustrious West End. As the vibrant tapestry of this project unfurls, offering a tantalising glimpse into the meticulous craftsmanship, we eagerly anticipate presenting you with the final masterpiece in the not-so-distant future.

The fusion of artistry and functionality is our hallmark, evident in each meticulously upholstered piece. The textures, hues, and contours seamlessly meld, resulting in seating that elevates both form and function. Stay tuned as we prepare to unveil the culmination of our dedication, where every stitch, every flourish, will stand as a testament to the elegance we strive to deliver. Your spaces, whether domestic or commercial, are not just adorned with seating, but with a reflection of sophistication and luxury meticulously curated by our artisans.

You can take a look at some of the other bespoke pieces of furniture we have created for various establishments throughout London and Essex on our commercial upholstery case studies pages.

bespoke restaurant seating bloomsbury Hill Upholstery Seating For Restaurants
bespoke restaurant seating bloomsbury Restaurant Seating Hill Upholstery

3 Reasons To Reupholster

At Hill Upholstery & Design, we are the number one choice when it comes to Essex upholstery – we have been commissioned with creating some truly stunning bespoke furniture for clients throughout Essex and London. However, it is not just bespoke furniture that we are famous for – we are also experts at adding new life to your old furniture with our reupholstery services. We have been thinking about the advantages of reupholstering furniture and why some of our customers choose to reupholster rather than buy new  – have a look at just 3 reasons to reupholster below.

Colour Scheme
If your room is looking dated, in need of a full refresh and needs a whole new lease of life, changing the colour scheme can make a huge difference. Instead of going on the hunt for new furniture to complement your new colour scheme, consider having your furniture reupholstered in a more modern fabric. Our upholstery team based in Fobbing, Essex use only the highest quality fabrics and materials and are able to bring a whole new lease of life to tired, old furniture – your guests won’t even realise it is your old furniture!

Save money
Choosing to reupholster your furniture will save you money and mean you don’t risk purchasing furniture that’s just not quite as comfortable as the last lot! We live in a ‘throw away’ society, so make the right environmental choice and reupholster!

Custom Designs
When you choose to reupholster rather than buy brand new furniture, you are not restricted to what the shops have to offer you. With a huge selection of top quality materials, we are confident we will have the perfect material to reupholster your furniture and transform the room it belongs in. You know the furniture already fits in the room, so just take the next step to updating it!

If you’d like to know more about how the Hill Upholstery & Design team work and how we can assist you with your Essex upholstery needs, contact us today!

We have reupholstered furniture throughout Essex and London for some very happy clients. This stunning nursing chair reupholstery proejects is on of our favourites!

Furniture Trends for 2023

The team at Hill Upholstery & Design like to keep ahead of the game so we can advise our clients on the furniture trends and must have styles for the homes and businesses.

We have already been looking ahead to what is expected to be popular next year and wanted to share some of our findings with you. The following article was published on and highlights some of the furniture design trends you can expect to see in 2023…

Fluid & Curved
For Autumn Winter 2023 householders will relish the experience of opening up their homes again and celebrating being close to loved ones. For furniture designers, focus on products that can help support intimate moments, extra long, curved and fluid style seating helps to create cosy spaces for friends and family to relax, eat and work together.
Take a look at this stunning curved custom made sofa we created for a client in London – Custom Made Sofa, London

Rebooted Classics
Forecast in our Autumn Winter 2023/24 trend, Modern Renaissance; graceful architectural aspects, such as intricate curves, cylindrical shapes, columns and arches are finding new life in modern furnishings. For sofa design, consider playing with sculptural shapes and classical elements to create a monumental presence within the home.
We reupholstered this family’s sofa in South London which fits the rebooted classics theme – Sofa Reupholstery London

Woven Finishes
In our Spring Summer 2023 trend Superbloom, woven finishes and wobbly-lined weave are adorning sofas and soft furnishings. Add surface interest with woven, often multi-coloured yarns, (faux) leather, recycled plastics and dyed rattan weaves.
We reupholstered this Lancaster Easy Chair with a gorgeous multi-coloured fabric – Lancaster Easy Chair Reupholstery

Darker Tones
As forecast in our Autumn Winter 2023/24 trend, Lust for Life, the home becomes a place to embrace yourself and your loved ones. For seating design consider darker tones in deep red and peach tones to create a more intimate, enveloping space.
This bespoke Chesterfield sofa hits the right notes with its dark leather – Bespoke Chesterfield Sofa

Modern Quilting
As householders increasingly immerse themselves in nature, hiking culture weaves its way into the home. For textiles and sofa upholstery incorporate recycling, mending, and repairing to give a modern quilting aesthetic, with clean vertical lines and panelled patch pieces.

You can read the full article on

If you have furniture which is in need of modernisation, then give the Hill Upholstery & Design team a call and see how we can help update your sofas and chairs. Contact us today – we can hep with your London upholstery and Essex upholstery needs!

Upholstered Footstools, Ottomans and Hassocks

There are some pieces of furniture that are simply workhorses in your room because they can be used in so many different ways. Upholstered Footstools, Ottomans and Hassocks fall into this category. But is there a difference between these three pieces of furniture? The simple answer is — not really. They are all small pieces of furniture whose purpose is to provide a spot to rest your feet. That being said, ottomans tend to be larger and are often used in lieu of a coffee table; a hassock is smaller and rounder and a footstool is usually a bit lower to the ground and smaller in size. Let’s take a look at the various ways these furniture pieces can be put to work.


It is common to find an ottoman used as a coffee table. They can be made into any shape including round, square and rectangular. The legs can be fitted with casters allowing you to move it out of the way or around the room as necessary. Placing a tray on top of the ottoman will provide a spot set a drink glass or to corral all those necessary items such as eyeglasses, books and the ever present remote. The top can be removable, exposing lots of storage space for extra blankets, magazines etc.

This trend of using an ottoman in place of a coffee table will work in any interior. A tufted velvet ottoman with brass casters is lovely in a traditional setting. For a contemporary space, a sleek black leather ottoman on polished chrome legs fits the bill. In a country, eclectic or transitional interior, choose a fabric that coordinates with other fabrics and colours in the room for a coordinated look.


Really just another term for an ottoman, a hassock is generally a bit smaller in size and is often round in shape. These, too could be used as an end table by placing a piece of glass on top. You may consider sliding two hassocks under a console table for use as extra seating when needed. Placing one in front of a fireplace provides a nice spot to warm your toes without taking up too much space. Like ottomans, they can be upholstered in any fabric of your choice.


A footstool’s sole purpose is to provide a spot to rest your weary feet. They sit low to the ground, ranging from 9-12″ in height and 12-15″ deep. They can be placed directly in front of a chair, sitting between two occasional chairs or up against a wall holding books until they are needed. Since they are so small you can upholster them in a fabric that you would not want to use in large volume such as an animal print, a bright colour, a custom needlepoint etc. Have fun with these.

Tassel trim, braid, gimp and nail heads can all be used to embellish your footstool, ottoman or hassock to add a unique look to your home.

For more information about Upholstered Footstools just contact us.

The original version of this article was posted on

Metal Chair Frames As A Furniture Trend

We saw metal chair frames as a feature trending in Cologne and it’s continued in Milan. Metal chair frames are nothing new, they’re popular in the contract market because they have certain benefits, outlined below, but now manufacturers are taking these benefits and making a design feature from them, providing function and desirability in one. They’re also available in decadent finishes including gold, rose gold & now titanium, which goes hand in hand with the trend for decadent comfort.

Benefits of metal frames on chairs

Metal is the strongest material; a welded joint is as strong as the metal itself and will not snap. Simple metal work is also cheaper than wooden equivalents. Further, metal legs often have plywood or plastic moulded shells screwed to them as a cost-effective solution. Metal chairs will also stack highest because the frame is thin & strong. Even better, painted metal also chips less than painted wood providing an longer lasting finish. Read more about chair materials in our blog Pros and Cons of Dining Chair Materials.

Metal frames as a feature on chairs and tables

Here is a selection of the new chairs with this trend that we saw in Milan. Many are so new they’ve yet to be added to our website. Click on the image for more product details where available or contact the team for more information about products not currently on our website.

Free Furniture Style Guide: Milan Edition

Discover more trends from Salone del Mobile including: metal frames as a feature on chairs, cage frames, the colour green even handbag stools!

Download Furniture Style Guide: Milan Edition Summer 2018 to browse new products from Milan, discover innovative styles and see projects they’re applied in.

For more information about Chair Frames just contact us.

The original version of this article was posted on

8 Useful Pointers For Contract Furniture – Leather Upholstery

There are very good reasons why leather is an enduringly popular choice for contract furniture; it is robust and (usually) gets even more attractive with age. Here are some useful pointers about leather upholstery qualities that we have identified from our experiences:

1. Expect every piece of leather furniture to have unique character

Leather hides are the skin of cows, and as no two cows are exactly the same, no two hides are the same either. The grain (which is the term for the outside of the hide) – will have its own collection of wrinkles, insect bite marks and healed scars & scratches that have been acquired through the animal’s lifetime.

2. More character often means better quality

A hide’s unique characteristics can actually be a pointer of better quality leather upholstery as they demonstrate that the leather has not been overly processed – some poor hides can be sanded to make then appear more unmarked, in the process perhaps also losing some of their character.

3. Leather hides are irregular, so care has to be taken with ordering by the m2.

Because hides are rather irregular in shape, even when the area of the hide is accurately measured, all this area cannot be fully used. This regularly means that not enough leather is ordered – if a chair requires, say, 4sqm of leather, it might seem generous to allow a whole hide of perhaps 5m; but the hide’s irregular shape might mean that not all of this can be used. Hide sizes tend to vary too, averaging around 5 sqm.

4. Leather is supplied in full hides, so small requirements will lead to wastage

It is not possible to order less than a full hide and therefore, costs to make an order requiring only 2sqm of leather (for example) can jump up considerably, as you would still need to pay for the full hide.

5. Leather that has been printed with a repeat pattern will require a lot of leather

A repeat pattern exaggerates the difficulties with the irregular shape of a hide (our point 3 above), limiting an upholsterer’s flexibility. This will mean considerably more needs to be ordered, with concurrent extra waste. Occasionally a design scheme calls for the central ‘ridge’ of a hide to be centralised on a seat; this of course means that each seat requires (at least) a full hide, even if of diminutive proportions.

6. Leather can stretch over time

Unsupported expanses of leather upholstery will stretch if subject to regular use. So, for instance, the top surface of a cushion on a lounge chair will probably slightly expand over time, giving it a slightly baggy appearance. The larger an area of leather, the more noticeable this will be. This is generally perceived to be an endearing characteristic of leather furniture. But we strongly recommend extreme care with leather ‘slung’ furniture (ie leather suspended across a seat), which will eventually stretch too far to be comfortable, unless the leather is well-glued to an un-stretchable backing material.

7. Some leather finishes are more robust than others

Leather is resilient by nature, but raw leather will stain extremely easily. Because of this, leather for contract use is usually coated with both a colouring pigment and a clear protective layer. Both of these processes individually will help protect a leather surface; together they provide significant extra protection.

As a contrast, Aniline leather, which can be superbly soft, undergoes a process that preserves and colours the leather, but does not protect its surface. As a result Aniline leather (or semi-aniline leather, which offers some protection) is not as resilient as pigmented leather.

8. Leather requires maintenance and care

Leather improves with age, but only if it is treated with some respect.

For more information about Contract Furniture and Leather Upholstery just contact us.

The original version of this article was posted on

Five Upholstery Nightmares And How To Solve Them

As an upholsterer – whether you’re just starting out or have been at it for years – there are some things you come across that will cause your heart to sink. Unfortunately, no one is immune to the upholstery nightmares that lie beneath the surface or the hidden secrets that spell upholstery hell. Here are the five discoveries that strike fear every time!


They may look harmless, but when you see these tiny, winged creatures come into contact with fabric, it’s a catastrophe. As an upholsterer, an infestation of moths is possibly the most disappointing upholstery nightmares. If there was any part of the piece you’re working on worth saving, the appearance of moths means it all has to go. Sadly, you can’t take the risk of leaving anything other than the frame intact, so everything else needs to be ripped off and got rid of.

Thankfully, I’ve only had one completely disastrous run-in with moths in eight years, but it does surprise me how many households still suffer with them. Clothes moths mainly feed on wool clothing, carpets, and rugs and, of course, upholstered furniture. They will also feed on synthetics or cotton blends but are less attracted to manmade fabrics such as polyesters and velvets. Damage most likely appears in hidden locations like crevices and in between cushions. When they take grip, it’s a disaster!

The only solution is to strip everything away and let the bare frame sit. When you’re sure there’s no evidence of moths or their larvae left, the piece needs to be professionally fumigated. What a palaver!


Next up on the list of upholstery nightmares you really don’t want to come across is another small but sinister creature – woodworm. An infestation of woodworm (the wood-boring larva of the furniture beetle) is relatively easy to spot as they leave a mass of tiny holes in the wood when the adults mature and fly away. If they’ve got into the joints, you may find that the frame is wobbly too. One way to spot if they’re active is to hit the wood. If a flurry of fine sawdust comes out, there’s a good chance they’re still busy!

Chemical treatments involve injecting each and every hole. When purchasing and bringing old furniture into your home, check it over for indications of a woodworm infestation and ensure that it has been treated to drive out any remaining larvae and make it harder to take hold in the future. Older pieces of furniture that may have been subject to woodworm attacks in the past may need joints securing by drilling out and replacing dowels.

Bodge Jobs

I’m fully supportive of anyone having a go at basic upholstery themselves, but it’s important to know your limits and when to call in a pro. Bodge jobs, badly executed repairs and a lack of knack can create big upholstery nightmares. I’ve come across all sorts of unbelievable cock-ups and makeshift solutions. People that use plywood instead of webbing, for instance – a common quick fix that does NOT make for a comfy landing.

The trouble is that some chairs that have been done up look innocent enough from first inspection, but undercover all sorts of problems can be waiting. Having to fix issues, take away what’s not right and re-tread old ground is one of the most frustrating upholstery challenges of all.

Wonky Webbing

Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it should be disregarded. For me, I always make sure every project I work on looks as good on the inside as it does on the outside. In other words, get the foundations right before you even begin to think about anything else. When it comes to webbing, it’s so common to see a poor job and people don’t use enough. Sometimes I see it and wonder how the entire seat hasn’t fallen through.

These days, I’m coming across more and more elastic webbing and I have to say I’m not a fan. In my opinion, there is nothing as reliable as good old black and white, jute, herringbone webbing. And don’t scrimp on it! A decent, structured webbing base will make all the difference between a chair you sit ‘in’ and a chair you sit ‘on’. And elastic webbing? Forget it!

Metal Back Tack (AKA Ply-Grip)

Fixed with staples to fold fabric back over and create a blind seam, you may love Ply-grip, but I think its lethal! Like dealing with shark’s teeth, it’s a beast to come up against. While it may apply nicely, it creates a nightmare for anyone having to strip it away down the line. Not only does Ply-grip bruise velvet, you have to give the piece a real whack to fix it and it’s vicious stuff. Call me old-fashioned, but I always favour a slip stitch. And that’s the kind of satisfying process that definitely won’t give you nightmares!

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