Upholstered Furniture Repair

Few things offer more comfort than an upholstered chair, but it may eventually need a repair. This Fix-It Guide on upholstered furniture repair tells how upholstered furniture works, what often goes wrong, how to identify an upholstered furniture problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to patch a tear or a hole in fabric or vinyl upholstery. You may need to refer to other Fix-It Guides for some upholstered furniture repairs.

How Does Upholstered Furniture Work?

Upholstered furniture is padded furniture that is covered with fabric, leather, or vinyl. A frame provides support and sets the shape of upholstered furniture. Cotton or foam padding gives the furniture lightweight mass, making it soft.

Fix-It Tip

The techniques for repairing upholstered furniture can easily be applied to repairing upholstery in a car, truck, boat, trailer, or anywhere else it is used. And the mattress you sleep on is actually upholstered furniture.

What Can Go Wrong with Upholstered Furniture?

Upholstered furniture can get dirty. The upholstery can be torn or burned. A seam can fail.

How Can I Identify an Upholstered Furniture Problem?

  • If your upholstered furniture is dirty, you can clean it with commercial upholstery cleaner. Make sure it is a cleaner intended for the specific type of upholstery you need to clean and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Or try a powerful oxygen cleaner. Whatever you use, test-clean an inconspicuous area first.
  • If cleaning isn’t sufficient and the upholstery is solid color, you can try spray-on coloring agents to give it a covering color.
  • If the upholstery suffers a tear or torn seam, you may be able to sew it (see the section on sewing in Tools) or glue it (see the section on adhesives in the Repair Stationary Things Fix-It Guide).
  • If the tear or seam cannot be sewn without showing, or there is a small hole, you may be able to patch it (see below).
  • If tacks come out of upholstered furniture, you can replace them.
  • If the frame is damaged, see the Wood Furniture Fix-It Guide for tips on repairing wood components.

What Do I Need for Upholstered Furniture Repair?

You can get upholstery materials and fabrics from an upholstery supply store, some fabric stores, and on the Internet. Adhesives are available at many retail stores. The tools you will need to fix upholstered furniture include these:

  • Upholstery needles
  • Sewing needles
  • Upholstery thread
  • Fabric adhesive
  • Spray-on color
  • Iron-on patches
  • Upholstery tacks
  • Small hammer
  • Electric iron

What Are the Steps to Upholstered Furniture Repair?

Upholstered Furniture Repair

You can purchase vinyl repair kits at larger hardware and automotive stores to repair a tear in vinyl upholstery.

Patch a tear in fabric or vinyl upholstery:

  1. Insert an iron-on patch through the tear so that the adhesive side contacts the backside of the torn fabric.
  2. Iron one side of the tear until the patch sticks firmly to the back of the cloth on that side.
  3. Adjust the torn spot for smoothness over the other side of the patch.
  4. Iron the second half of the patch, moving it toward the tear.
  5. If necessary, apply fabric adhesive to the tear for a stronger bond.
Upholstered Furniture Repair

Vinyl repair kits typically include a texture pad to duplicate the fabric’s texture for a seamless repair.

Fix-It Tip

Which adhesive will work best in repairing upholstered furniture? Check the adhesives section of the Repair Stationary Things Fix-It Guide for specific guidance, or take the fabric sample to an upholstery fabric or sewing supply store for assistance.

Patch a hole in fabric or vinyl upholstery:

  1. Locate and remove excess material from a hidden area of the upholstered furniture sufficiently large to cover the hole.
  2. Trim the upholstery to match the hole and surrounding pattern.
  3. Apply an iron-on patch (see above) or apply adhesive to a backing cloth to the back of the damaged area.
  4. Use fabric adhesive or a small iron-on patch to install the material patch in the hole.
  5. Allow the adhesive to fully dry before use.