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How to reupholster a couch

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Today I am sharing how to reupholster a couch without sewing. If you have a couch that is old and ugly, don’t trash it just yet! My DIY couch got a huge makeover and I couldn’t be happier with the results.  Give your old tired couch a new look and trust me, you can do this. I used an old couch cover from Pottery Barn, a staple gun and a pair of scissors. 

If you have been following the blog for a while, you know that I sawzalled an existing couch in half and removed two feet and then assembled it back together finishing it off with new upholstery. Don’t believe me, click through this post DIY Couch to see just how I did it!  The couch has seen many modern looks over the years but I decided to reupholster it again with an old Pottery Barn slipcover that was in the bottom of my closet.

It’s crazy how this couch upholstery tutorial is currently trending on Pinterest and being featured as an interior diy hack that is cheap and easy way to cover an old couch. Yay!! 

how to reupholster a couch without sewing and a couch sawed in half to make it smaller

When I searched google for diy couches or diy sofa, I came up with several ways on how to reupholster a couch and many articles related to how much does it cost to reupholster a couch. This project took no time at all and I love the results. You can do this same reupholstery method with a sectional couch as well. 

white slipcovered sofa, seagrass ottoman, brown wicker rocking chair, blue and white wall board and batten, striped pool towel, outdoor tan rug

How to reupholster a couch without sewing

How to reupholster a couch without removing old fabric is a simple way to update your sofa.

Green drapes used as fabric to reupholster a couch

In case you are new to our blog, this is what the couch looked like after I sawzalled it in half. A family friend gave me this couch several years ago when I bought my first house and over the years, my taste in fabric changed but I couldn’t afford to buy a new couch. The couch was also too big for my current home so I decided to remove 2 feet from the middle to make it smaller turning this into the best reupholstered DIY couch ever.

sawzalled couch in half to remove 2 feet from the center of the couch
The couch I cut in half with a sawzall to make it smaller

Kind of crazy right? Well this little old sofa is getting a new look, again.

Do you love the look of slip covers but hate all the wrinkles and mess? The one piece slipcovers that you buy as is are beautiful as long as you don’t sit on the furniture.

Do you know what I am talking about?

They come in one size and usually, you have excessive amounts of fabric tucked everywhere. Drives me crazy! So my solution was to reuse the existing large one piece slip cover and cut it to size and staple/nail it to the couch. Easy peasy!

How to reupholster a couch with a staple gun

First step, drape your fabric slip cover over your piece of furniture.

Pottery Barn slipcover over a couch as fabric for upholstery project

Next step, cut the excessive fabric (on the floor) off but be sure to not cut the pleated part. You will want to save the pleated part to re-staple to the couch along the bottom edge.

pottery barn white slipcover over old couch, cement floor, pool house

Now it’s time to cut out the middle piece of your fabric. I decided to cut straight across being sure to leave enough fabric to cover the back and sides of the couch.

pottery barn white slipcover used to reupholster a couch , cement floor, pool house

Don’t worry, this works!

How to Reupholster a couch without removing the fabric

This is such a great way to reupholster a couch without removing the fabric first. There is no need to remove the old fabric. This guide will save you so much time!

pottery barn white slipcover, cement floor, pool house

Now, simply tuck your fabric and staple with your hand powered staple gun. I used a compressor and heavy duty staple gun with 1/4″ staples. Be sure to staple to the wood part/frame of the sofa.

The materials needed simply consist of your fabric, staple gun, staples and an air compressor.

pottery barn white slipcover cut in half, cement floor, pool house

Try to staple as close to the bottom and up underneath in order to hide the staple.

Pottery Barn slipcover used to reupholster a couch and staple gun with staples
Pottery Barn slipcover used to reupholster a couch with staple gun and staples

I cut a piece of fabric (from the slip cover excess) to cover the front and stapled. I chose to leave the arms of the couch “loose” simply because I wanted a casual look. You can always staple the fabric around the arms to give it a more tailored look. It just depends what look you want.

If you make a mistake or don’t like it, just get a hammer and screwdriver and pry out the staple. That is the beauty of a DIY sofa upholstery project, you can change things as you go if you do not like it.

RELATED: Easy DIY Reupholstering Tips and Tricks

loveseat with pottery barn slipcover stapled to couch

Don’t worry about getting the fabric perfect. You will be able to cover the edges and trim with the existing pleated skirt that you cut off earlier. 

You can always make diy piping too for the edges if you have extra time.

See below how I stapled the skirt back on the couch. This gives the couch a finished look.

white pottery barn slipcover pinned to couch

I tried to staple where the staples wouldn’t be seen but a couple do show. You can purchase roping or ribbon in the fabric store and use stitch witchery to adhere to the slipcover if you want to hide the staples. For me, they are hardly noticeable.

pottery barn white couch slipcover

Yield: 1

How To Reupholster A Couch

Top 2013 DIY Projects Four Generations One Roof

How to reupholster a couch without removing the old fabric.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 1 minute
Active Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 16 minutes
Difficulty medium
Estimated Cost 300.00

Materials

  • Fabric or use a couch cover like I did, powered staple gun and compressor, 1/4" staples

Tools

  • powered staple gun and compression, scissors

Instructions

  1. Drape fabric over couch
  2. Tuck your fabric and staple with your hand powered staple gun. I used a compressor and heavy duty staple gun with 1/4″ staples. Be sure to staple to the wood part/frame of the sofa.
  3. Work your way around the couch tucking and stapling the fabric to the couch. Try to hide your staples

How much does it cost to reupholster a couch? 

Many of you may be asking how much does it cost to reupholster a couch? I already had the slip cover so for me, it was minimal! Just the cost of staples and my time. That’s it! 

Of course if you want it perfect, you will need to invest hundreds of dollars, maybe even thousands and pay to have it professionally upholstered. For me, that wasn’t an option. At one point I had a professional upholsterer near me give an estimate and it was going to cost almost $1200 to have it reupholstered. 

I think the couch recovered in a camel covered slip cover fits right in with our newly renovated modern cottage pool house.

pottery barn slipcover, seagrass ottoman, wicker rocker, rainwash wall color, board and batten wall
Pottery Barn slipcover used to reupholster an old couch pool house with coastal blue decor

How to reupholster cushions on a couch

For the cushion, I used the remaining fabric that I had cut off in the beginning and sewed the ends together and used velcro to close the seam of the cushion. I ran out of zippers and velcro is what I had so that is what I used. I may sew a zipper on the cushion cover at some point.

Pottery Barn slipcover used to reupholster an old couch pool house coastal blue decor striped towel brown rug wicker basket white drapes

Be sure to also check out my how to reupholster a chair tutorial too. It’s a new sew tutorial and if I can do it, anyone can do it. How many yards of fabric to reupholster a couch? This was a full couch cover so I don’t have the exact yards I used but if you are buying fabric, keep in mind that 1 yard = 36 inches. So you will need to measure the length, width and height of your couch and then add extra for excess and divide that number by 36. I would definitely buy extra just to be safe. 

By reusing a slipcover that cost over $300, I was able to save money on the cost of buying fabric and by stapling the slipcover in place, the the fabric now stays put!

A fresh new look for a sofa that use to be two feet longer for zero money!

Related: (see the really cool wingback chair I reupholstered without sewing).

How long does it take to reupholster a couch?

This reupholstered couch project only took me two hours. Be patient and take your time, the cost savings is worth it. 

Get yourself a small compressor and heavy duty staple gun (that works with a compressor), some fabric and get busy!

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of this project! Do you have a couch you would like to reupholster?

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43 Comments

      1. Do you think this would work if I used a staple gun without a small compressor? Thanks for your help!

        1. Yes, you could try a heavy duty one and see how it works. It will probably depend on how “hard” the wood is on your chair. I bet a heavy duty one might work ok 🙂

        2. Anonymous says:

          No reason for it not to,but it is MUCH more difficult. A friend and I did a lot of upholstery work,both home and auto. Between the ring clamps and staples those where the days the kids had pizza for dinner.No our hubby’s where NOT the helpful types. But OUR work was beautiful. Really do miss those busy busy days.

  1. It looks fantastic! Loved how you finished before but this looks great with the new room. What other fabrics would you recommend for reupholstery. I have a few chairs and a a Victorian bench I want to do.

  2. Ok, Jessica! After the chair tutorial and now this, I think I can reupholster my wing back loveseat without sewing! Thanks for the inspiration!~~Angela

  3. Michelle roy says:

    Jessica I need u to come over and do my love seat!
    My husband has a staple gun and compressor
    Perhaps u could supervise me while I do the work

  4. You make it look so easy, Jessica … love it … thanks for the tutorial! And, it was great meeting at Haven … hope to see you again. 🙂

  5. Great idea on using an existing slip cover to start. I need to update a chair and was going to start from scratch with fabric but this sounds like a better idea;)

  6. Jasmine Ramirez says:

    This is so amazing and so much easier than the process i was going to do. You saved me a lot of time and money. Thank you so much!!

  7. This looks amazing. My couch has seen better days. It was an older couch when I got it and the fabric was already in rough shape and then the kids made it rougher. The fabric on the arms are basically shredded so I put a slipcover on it. Yes, the dreaded slipcover that has to be put back on it EVERY day because with the kids jumping on it, its gets completely askew. From being tossled and pulled (because it does not fit properly) even the slipcover now has a couple of holes in it…which leads to my question….Let me say this before I ask my question: I HATE MY COUCH!! I rarely even sit on it because of my hatred lol Now for my question, because I do not want to spend a lot of money (dont really have it to spend), I wonder if the canvas painters drop cloth could be used to recover the couch. Would the canvas be thick enough? just wanted other’s thoughts. Thanks in advance!! 🙂

    1. Yes, I have heard of dropcloths being used. Just make sure you look at it before you buy it. Open it up and make sure it is in good condition.

  8. Can you do the same on a sectional? The pillows & cushions dont come off

  9. hi I have 5 cats and want to recover my loveseat. I need a to know what fabric ( and can it be a bedspread or drapery fabric ) will hold up the best to the cats. The loveseat also is tufted with the elastic material from inside the sofa holding the buttons, should I just skip these or take them out.Please help

    1. I would suggest going to your local fabric shop and ask them what fabrics would be best. I personally would use a cotton/poly blend so you can vacuum it easily. There are so many different types so your best bet, head to the fabric shop 🙂

  10. Jennifer Pritchett says:

    Where did you find the slip covers for the couch? Do you happen to know if you can find slipcover’s for ottomans? My fabric is outdated but nice quality furniture. Thank you for your help,
    Jennifer Pritchett

    1. That fabric is actually an old slip cover that I had purchased (I think it’s pottery barn?) and then I cut it to fit my couch and stapled. 🙂

  11. Wow! This looks so simple and would be really nice to recover our couch that the dog, cat, and kids have made their personal playground over the past three years!
    Thank you!!

  12. Thank you for your instructions. Your piece turned out pretty. I have never thought about taking off some of the lenghh of a couch!!! And all without sewing..
    Amazing…..Good job

    1. haha I never did either until one day when I decided to sawzall it in half 🙂

  13. gonna, try this live on budget and its a great idea!

  14. My sectional is the older kind with the lumpy type head rest if that makes any sense how can I cover it and keep the look without uneven fullness

    1. You could try buying new filler (kind of like a batting for quilts) at the fabric store (down or polyester). Apply the new stuffing and then recover. The batting works wonders to smooth stuff out 🙂

  15. Susan Lee says:

    Plan on reupholstering my couch in the near future! This is a very informative tutorial, I already bought my fabric at Canvas Etc.

  16. What a project! The color is definitely an improvement, and overall it looks better, but the fabric looks a bit disheveled for my taste.

  17. Hi there! My sofa is L-shaped, but the L part is attached. I’ve often wanted to saw it off to make it easier to cover with a sofa cover. Now, I’m just sick of it and want to reupholster the whole thing, but I still want to saw that part off to make it easier. How did you put your sofa back together? Also, my back cushions are attached. So I want to detach them for reupholstering purposes. Will I need to put something where is detached them or will the new fabric suffice?
    Thank you!

    1. I know the feeling! ha. I ended up putting mine back together with 2×4’s across the back. It wasn’t pretty but after I covered it with new fabric, it was hidden. haha. Good luck with your couch 🙂