Are you ready to do an upholstery project but want to know what it will cost before you get started?

Living Room Couch and Chair reupholster

Let’s break this down into categories. You will need tools, supplies, and fabric.

Upholstery Tools

Upholstery tools are not a huge investment. Of course, like any other hobby or project you tackle, there is always the opportunity to buy bigger and better tools.

You can use an Osborne magnetic tack hammer and a few boxes of upholstery tacks or even a hand stapler. These tools will get the job done but will take a bit more effort than a pneumatic upholstery staple gun powered by an air compressor. Oh and obviously there is a bit of a price difference. If you want to use a hand stapler, I would start testing it out on something like a dining chair slip seat, so you get a feel for how it works.

The harder the furniture frame, the harder it is to get the staples in all the way with this tool. The traditional method – using an upholstery tack hammer and tacks – works fine too, but is a bit more time-consuming.

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Traditional Tools

Basic Tools

  • Hand Stapler – around $25.00
  • Staples -$16.00

More Efficient Tools

  • Small Air Compressor – $60 and up depending on the tank size
  • ⅜” to ½” Crown Pneumatic Upholstery Staple Gun – $80 and Up depending on the brand
  • Air compressor hose and attachments $25 or so.
  • Staples – $10per box

Can I use the tools I arleady have?

YES! It is fine to use the tools you arleady have. The tools you need for teardown can range from what the professionals use, to a screwdriver and pliers.

If you are only doing one project, I say use what you have. As someone who has been upholstering for many years, I have most of the Osborne Upholstery tools. My go-to tools for teardown are a 120 ½ staple puller, a ripping chisel, wire cutters, and a wooden mallet. As I mentioned, you can also use a screwdriver, plyers and any hammer to get the job done.

Another inexpensive tool that comes in handy is a simple tack puller that you can find at most hardware stores.

Upholstery Tool Pricing

Hammer, screw driver, pliers, tack puller
wooden mallet, cutters, ripping chisel
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Upholstery Supplies

Don’t forget the cost of supplies you will need to reupholster your chair or couch.

Your next costs will be the supplies used to reupholster your chair or couch. I always suggest that you tear your piece down to the bare frame. Why put in all this effort to reupholster and then leave the dirty old supports and padding underneath your brand new fabrics? Yuck!

Starting with a clean slate will give you a brand new, CLEAN and comfortable, reupholstered chair or couch that you can enjoy for many years to come.  Also, who knows how much longer the original support will last if you don’t replace it.

Replacing the support systems is something you shouldn’t overlook

The first layer will be your support system. For this, you will want to use jute webbing. Jute webbing is very strong. I prefer the red stripe jute webbing for all my support areas.

If you have coil springs, you will also need a button tufting twine to hand sew the springs down to the webbing and spring tying twine (I use Ruby Italian Jute) to tie the tops of the springs. The twines you find in your local hardware store are not strong enough for this application.

Burlap will be used to go over the top of your springs in your seat and/or back and also over the webbing you will apply to your inside arms and backs.  Now if you are reupholstering a couch be sure to increase the amount of supplies you will need vs reupholstering a chair (we always say in terms of reupholstering projects, a couch is just a long chair).  I suggest measuring what you you remove when it comes to burlap and webbing so you are sure to purchase enough.

  • Jute Webbing – $18 for a 15-yard roll
  • Burlap (minimum of 30” W) $3 per yard
  • Button Twin $14
  • Spring Tying Twine $19.00
  • 6” Straight needle and 6” Curved Needle – $7.00 each

Padding is another cost included in reupholstering your chair or couch

Once you have your support in place, the next step before your fabric would be padding. The comfort, of course, is important; so don’t skimp here! You could use foam with a layer of bonded polyester batting (Dacron) or upholstery cotton also followed with a layer of Dacron.

And in case you ask, the answer is NO! Quilt batting and natural quilters cotton are NOT what you want. It is important to use materials that are intended for furniture upholstery so you can have the best results.

  • Bonded Polyester batting $5 – $10 per yard ( I like a 1” thick )
  • Upholstery Cotton (natural or synthetic)  $30 to $50 a roll (27” W X approx 16 lbs.) One roll will typically do a chair with upholstered arms
  • Foam Varies widely but you want a quality High Resiliency (HR) foam.  DON’T SKIMP as you will regret it.

Upholstery Fabric

Once you’ve done all the prep work, you are ready to pick out the perfect fabric to reupholster your couch or chair.

Have fun with this step! But make sure to use a fabric intended for the way your piece will be used. Again, skimping here can end up being very disappointing. If your fabric can’t withstand the intended use, you will have done all this work for nothing.

As I am sure you know, quality upholstery fabrics are not $5 per yard. “You get what you pay for” is definitely true when choosing the right fabric for your couch or chair project.

Let your personality shine and show off your newly upholstered project!

In Summary

Tools

  • Screw Driver $8.00
  • Long Nose Plyers $8.00
  • Hammer $12.00
  • Tack puller $5.00
  • 120 ½ Staple Lifter $25
  • Wire Cutters $13.00
  • Ripping Chisel $16.00
  • Wooden Mallet $20.00
  • Goose Neck Webbing Stretcher $30.00

Supplies

  • Jute Webbing – $18 for a 15-yard roll
  • Burlap (minimum of 30” W) $3 per yard
  • Button Twin $14
  • Spring Tying Twine $19.00
  • 6” Straight needle and 6” Curved Needle – $7.00 each
  • Bonded Polyester batting $5 – $10 per yard
  • Upholstery Cotton (natural or synthetic) $30 to $50 a roll (27” W X approx 16 lbs.)
  • Foam varies widely but you want a quality, High Resiliency (HR) foam

Fabric

  • The cost of the fabric will be based on the price per yard you pay
  • Dining Chair – 1 yard
  • Wing Chair – 7+ yards
  • Couch – 12+ yards

All in all, a minimum expense for basic tools to get the job done may be around $50. Supplies will depend on the size of your project as well as what the project is, but you can expect to spend $50 to $100 for supplies (not including fabric).

I hope I have answered your question on “How much will it cost to reupholster my chair or couch if I do it myself?”.  As you begin to tear down your piece, take notes of what was inside and also take lots of pictures to refer back to.

Beware, doing upholstery is like eating a bag of chips, you can’t do just one piece!

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See you on the inside

PS: If you are looking to learn skills to help you upholster your couch or chair, our Online Classes may be something you want to consider.  Take a look at what you get when you join as a member.

If you are not sure what project you want to start with, here is a video where I talk about picking your first upholstery project. Have fun and please share your experience and say hello in the comments below.