Materials Used In Upholstery

Materials used in upholstery are divided into;

  • Upholstery Covering Materials, which include Fabrics, vinyls, leathers
  • Upholstery Supplies
  • Upholstery Hardware: which includes springs, nails, screws, brackets, etc.
  • Upholstery Paddings, which include cotton, polyfoam, latex foam and other paddings

For more information, see the  left side menu and the menu at the bottom of this page.

Upholstery Covering Materials

Upholstery Fabrics

Drapery Fabric for Upholstery?

Generally decorating fabrics come in at least three varieties, Drapery, multipurpose (which can be used for either drapery or upholstery, and upholstery. For this article I'm focusing primarily upon the idea of using drapery specific fabrics (such as shiny polyester and rayon) for upholstery. 

Drapery Fabric Is Not Meant For Upholstery
Here are some of the reasons I don't recommend doing a job in lightweight drapery fabric.

  1. The fabric was not constructed for upholstery use. It is not meant to have hundreds of pounds of human weight sitting on it. Rather, it is meant to hang lightly on the window.
  2. Most lightweight drapery fabrics don't have enough body (thickness and stiffness) to be able to evenly pull the fabric. It is difficult to pull the fabric evenly enough to have a smooth stapled edge.
  3. The fabric usually has a lot of little pull marks at every staple (no matter how many staples you put in)
  4. Some areas of the upholstery cover require that you pull the fabric tightly, thereby putting a lot of stress on the fabric. This can cause some of the seams to rip loose.
  5. Since the fabric doesn't have an upholstery backing, the seams can sometimes easily unravel.
  6. With such a thin AND a shiny fabric, many little bumps (cotton seeds, etc.) show through the fabric.
  7. Since the drapery fabric has a weaker thread weave, the fabric is likely to have a very short lifespan.

With that said, sometimes, if you are very careful, some jobs can turn out tollerable. But it's a matter of doing an awful lot of extra work (that you don't get paid for) to have the job turn out mediocre at best.

If you feel that you must
 With that said, if you are dead set on using smooth and shiny polyester or rayon type fabrics for upholstery (which I don't recommend), here are a few suggestions.

  1. I would STRONGLY suggest that you require the client to provide you with ample EXTRA fabric to practice on.
  2. I'd STRONGLY recommend that you cover the furniture in an undercover using muslin or lining fabric before covering it with the drapery fabric. The undercover will take a lot of the stress instead of the stress going to the covering fabric. The lining will also help to minimize the staple pull marks.
  3. Using some of that extra fabric, I'd suggest that you do some practicing and make an upholstery prototype.
  4. Make sure you use a new needle when you sew the fabric. Use a very small sized needle. The big upholstery needles can catch the thread and pull the weave of the fabric causing runs in the fabric.
  5. Use a smaller weight of thread.
  6. Be open and honest with the client before you start, telling about the challenges of working with drapery fabric. (puckering seams, pull marks at each place you staple, etc.) Put these explanations and disclaimers in the contract.
  7. I might suggest that you use a regular straight-stitch sewing machine (or a home sewing machine) with a zipper foot. The walking foot sometimes doesn't work very well on such thin fabrics.
  8. Use a fray reducing product, such as Sprayway No Fray Spray (which you can probably get from your supplier), along the outside edges of the backside of the fabric. Test it on a scrap first to make sure that there is no staining or bleedthrough. If it doesn't bleed through, spray it on the backside and let it thoroughly dry before sewing. I use this product on any fabric that might unravel, or that is very flimsy. Besides helping to minimize fraying, it also gives the edges of the fabric a little more body so that it is easier to sew.
  9. If you will be stapling this fabric, turn down the pressure on your air compressor when you are stapling the drapery fabric. It is very easy for the staples to go right through the thin drapery fabric.
  10. OR cover the furniture or cushion in lining first before covering it in the drapery fabric.

Environmentally Friendly Upholstery Fabrics


 Environmentally Friendly Fabrics

   Environmentally Friendly Fabrics

Interior Furnishing Supplies

  • Appleseed Wool Carpet Padding
    • Suppliers
    • Environmental Home Center: "Our traditional carpet padding makes good use of coarse wool, a resource that otherwise would be wasted when the soft undercoat is processed for apparel."

Environmentally Friendly Building Materials

  • Environmental Home Center in Seattle: "We are your most complete source for green building materials—simply the highest-quality choices with the added benefit of being healthy and resource-efficient. Our environmental building supplies include non-toxic paint, natural carpets, sustainable wood products, energy-efficient insulation and people-friendly cleaning supplies."

Environmentally Friendly Products for the Home

  • Ikea: "IKEA wants its products to have the minimum impact on the environment. And for these products to be manufactured in a socially responsible way." Products for the home, cooking, animals, etc.

 Eco Friendly Children's ...

Third Party Certifiers

  • Scientific Certification System>:  "SCS offers evaluation and certification services to a broad range of manufacturing sectors including wood products, building materials, carpet/flooring, paints/finishes, furniture, and cleaning products, among others."
  • Green Seal: "Green Seal is an independent, non-profit organization that strives to achieve a healthier and cleaner environment by identifying and promoting products and services that cause less toxic pollution and waste, conserve resources and habitats, and minimize global warming and ozone depletion."

Upholstery Fabric Durability

this article is in the beginning stages. To start with, this will just contain links to references to later be used in the article.


Possible Articles,copied for Google Search

"Hospital fabrics assist in protecting and promoting health - Fabric ...

“We want fabrics that are cleanable, durable and fire retardant. ... Roberge prefersupholstery fabrics that exceed the base durability level (60,000 double-rubs) at ....memo with this bottom line: “Review of current scientific literature reveals no ..."


ACT Performance Guidelines | Sina Pearson Textiles

The ACT Performance Guidelines were developed to make specifying fabric easier. ... An explanation of the symbols, application and test method follows below. ... installations where upholstery fabrics rated at 30,000 double rubs should be ...


Abrasion testing « O ECOTEXTILES

Nov 18, 2009 – I mean, you can buy a fabric that has a 1,000,000 WZ test result – it should ... of the Southern Regional Research Laboratory, “results indicate that increases in ... how well a fabric will stand up to wear and tear in upholsteryapplications. ... Textiles website states that “double rubs exceeding 100,000 are not ...


Interior Design Reference Manual: Everything You Need to Know to ... - Page 15-16 - Google Books Result
David Kent Ballast - 2010 - Architecture

Some ofthe more important tests for fabrics are listed here. ... Some upholstery fabricscan withstand hundreds of thousands of double rubs... Samples of a textile material are exposed to ultraviolet light in a laboratory testing device at specific ...


Fabric testing | fabric durability | upholstery fabric | rub tests (a blog

Apr 20, 2010 – What's the “rub?” (Wyzenbeek vs Martindale) Aesthetics, comfort, durability – a needed balance when choosing an upholstery fabric!



Determining Yardage

Figuring the amount of fabric for any given sofa or chair is not an exact science. There are so many different fabric patterns, sizes and styles of furniture, and skill levels of upholsterers that all affect how much fabric any item will take. At best, determining how much yardage something will take is a guess. Sometimes the upholsterer guesses correctly, and sometimes he can be way off. So, the trick is, to guess high enough to make sure we have enough fabric for the job, but to not have an excessive amount of fabric left over.

One more accurate method of determining yardage yardage is to go out and measure the furniture, then do a layout of all the furniture cover pieces, figureing in the sizes of pattern repeats, cut sizes and fabric width. However, this is very time consuming. Unless the client is will to pay for this service, this is not an option. Generally, the cost of the precise estimate would be better served in just making sure we guess high enough to have adequate fabric to do the job.

Pattern Repeats: Generally, many fabric patterns are based upon what I call "the rule of 27", which means that many patterns are created in some multiple of 27, such as 3", 9", 13 1/2", and, of couse, 27".

Upholstery Leather

Upholstery Leather.

After Receiving yet another call by a client wanting leather (and having to tell here about the expense of leather), I went on the Internet to find out more information. I've heard about "split leather" before, and wanted to find out more about it. The Question I had in my mind; "Why does upholstery leather cost so much, and yet the new furniture stores can sell leather furniture so inexpensively?"

I did this "Google Search on Leather" and came up with this web page:

The Leather Controversy  

"Some essential  information and advice for those contemplating purchasing leather upholstered furniture: 

"Split leather", "bi-cast leather"(or just plain "bi cast"), "reconstituted leather", "corrected grain", "full grain", "aniline", "pigmented" - just some of the  terms used within the leather industry but not generally explained to the furniture buying public ..... "

Using Leather

Using Leather in Upholstery

This drawing* shows how the different parts of a leather hide are used in upholstery. The A Section of

Section A

  • Seat Tops
  • Inside backs
  • Cushion bands
  • Other sections that get more use or stress

Section B

  • Outside arms
  • Outside backs
  • Hidden bands
  • Other parts the receive little or no flexing

The Flank

  • Outside backs
  • Non-wearing surfaces

Flank fibers generally run in one direction (side to side). When stretching the flank, first stretch in in the direction of across the hide. If you stretch if the other way first, you may crack the surface.



  (*info and drawing taken from the Hoch & Selby Upholstery Catalog, page 44.)

Leather Information

Tandy Leather Guide Information of how leather is graded and labeled

Ever wondered how ">Hides are turned into leather"?

Here is more About Leather .

Here is yet some more info about Leather

Here is "How to Care for Leather "

Also, see this "Leather Terms Glossary "

Here's an article telling about leather used on Leather Upholstered Furniture

and another article on How to Choose Leather Furniture

Here is a Leather Encyclopedia

Leather Information

Upholstery Vinyls

Upholstery Hardware

Upholstery Springs


Upholstery Springs

When you purchase springs  the spring measurements (4", 6", 8",etc) represent the approximate uncompressed height of the spring when you purchase it. Once you tie the springs they will be shorter. The chart below gives you a rough idea of what the height of the springs might be after they are tied. The actual height after they are tied will vary, as described below.

Height of Upholstery Seat Springs after they are tied (compressed)

This chart is intended to help you choose the approximate correct size of upholstery springs.

Here are the approximate sizes and compression ranges to upholstery coil springs for seats. Pick a spring size where the mid point is the nearest to your desired height. These seats springs are available in either 9 gauge medium or 8 gauge firm springs. The sizes are not meant to be an exact representation, but only an approximate height. There is a lot of room for variance in the height of each upholstery spring. If the height of the springs are a little too high for the space you can tie the springs down tighter, or you can reduce the amount of padding on top of the springs. If the springs are a little shorter than your desired height, don't tie them down quite as tight, or add more padding on top of the springs.

Lowest point represents the height after the springs at pulled tightly down to their approximate lowest point.

Mid Point represents the idea (mid range) height of the springs after their are tied. Use the midpoint to choose your desired spring height.

Highest point refers to highest (or loosest) point at which the springs might be tied. 

Upholstery Springs Compression Chart
Height Uncompressed Approximate Heights After Compression*
Spring Size Lowest point* Mid point* Highest point*
4" Tall Spring 3"    3 1/4"   3 1/2"
5" Tall Spring 3 1/4" 3 1/2" 4"
5 1/2" Tall Spring 3 1/2" 4" 4 1/2"
6" Tall Spring 4"    4 1/2"    4 3/4"
7" Tall Spring 4 1/2" 5" 5  3/4"
8" Tall Spring 5" 6" 6 1/2"
9" Tall Spring 6"   7"    7 1/2"
10" Tall Spring 7" 8" 8 1/2"
12" Tall Spring 9"    9 1/2"    10"

*Don't take the compressed height measurements too literally. Compression will vary depending upon spring wire gauge and the firmness of the springs. Use this chart only as a rough approximate guide.

Upholstery Springs are available in most of these sizes listed in the chart. However,  most suppliers only carry a few of the sizes. If your supplier doesn't carry the size you need, you may need to contact some other suppliers.

Controlling the firmness of the springs in the seat. 

There are several ways to control the firmness or softness of the seat springs.

First, you can order a firm, medium, or soft springs.

Secondly, you can control the firmness by how tight you compress the springs when you tie them. The more you compress the spring (such as to the lowest point on the chart), the firmer the springs will be.

Third, you can control the firmness or softness of the seat by how you space the springs. The closer the springs are to each other, the firmer the seat. The further away the springs are from each other, the softer the seat.

Gauge on springs

Generally the lower the number the firmer the spring (although there are exceptions, check with the supplier to be sure.)

  • The 8 gauge springs are the firmest grade,
  • 9 gauge come are the next firmest. However 9 gauge also comes in medium and firm, so check when one you are getting when you order them.
  • 13 guage springs are very soft that are used in the backrests of the furniture.

Types of Upholstery Coil Springs

Upholstery coil springs come in at least two types. One type has the wire loose at both ends. The other type has one end of the wire knotted. I prefer the type with the knotted end. When you place the springs in the furniture, always put the knotted end at the top.

Spacing of Springs

The circled ends of upholstery spring are approximately 4 1/2 in diameter.  In theory, the springs can be spaced anyway from about 5 1/2" to 8" or more (measured center to center.) The actual spacing will be determined by the measurement of the seat area and the desired firmness of the seat area. There is no hard fast rule as to exact spacing. However, here are some guidelines. The edges of the springs are generally about 1" inside the bottom of the arm frame


The firmness of the seat can be controlled in two ways. One, is to purchase either medium or firm springs, depending upon your what you choose. The other way to control the firmness of the spring is in the spacing. To build a firmer seat, space the springs very close together, with perhaps 1-2" inches between the springs. To build a softer seat, space the springs further apart, from 2-4" (or further) apart.

Before Purchasing the springs

If you are unfamiliar with the height of the springs I'd recommend that you first purchase 3 springs, one spring that is the height that you think you want, then buy one taller and one shorter spring. Then take them back to your shop and test each one to see which one seems best suited for the height that you want.

Testing The Spring Height

You test the spring by putting your hand flat on the top of the spring and pushing down. The spring pushes down fairly easily for the first inch or two (depending on the uncompressed height of the spring). Then, as you continue to press down you will find that the spring begins to push back up against your hand. It's at the point where you feel the spring press firmly up against your hand that will be the compressed height of the spring. Measure that height. This is not an exact science. This just give you an approximate finished height for your springs, and that measurement will vary a little, and that's OK.



Loop Springs

Vinyl Covered Loop Springs
  I had a client with a rocker that used these vinyl covered loops springs.

Vinyl Covered Loop Springs
  I had a client with a rocker that used these vinyl covered loops springs. 

    The client really wants to replace them with the same type as they are, but I told him that he might have to settle for rubber webbing. I had never seen them in any of my upholstery supply catalogs, so I went to the uphostery discussion forum at (of which I'm a member) and asked if anyone knew about these.





Shock 3 sizes







Jan, another member of,  told me about using the shock cords/bungee cords (see below). So, as an experiment, I ordered and have now received shock cord. since I wasn't familiar with it and didn't know quite what to get, I ordered it in 3 different sizes; 3/16", 1/4", and 3/8".




Workable Solution for Loop Springs

Since the groove in the chair that the loop fits into is 1/4", I thought that it would be a simple choice, probably just use 1/4". However, once I had the cord in my hands, I found that the 1/4" cord stretches to over twice it's length, not a good thing for supporting the weight of an adult sitting on the seat cushions; the cord is much to stretchy. However, the 3/8" is very strong and seems like it will work very well.  However, it will only fit in the groove if stretched while it is put in the 1/4" groove. So it seems like this would work OK.



Cut  Cord to Size

It is better to cut the cord to size after you have fastened the ends together: Leaving about 8 inches to hang out, stretch and push the shock cord down into the groove back of the chair. Then, holdin that in place (with one hand, or with a clamp, stretch the cord tight across the open chair frame to the front of the chair. Stretch and push cord into the front groove. Pull the ends and overlap until the cord is tight (and, when you press down in the middle of the stretched cord, it only goes down a couple inches at most.

Now, hog rings the two ends together. Now take the cord out of the chair and  you should have a closed loop , like this:















Click on any picture to see a larger picture

After cutting to xize, and burning the ends to seal them, I used regular hog rings to fasten the ends together; they crimp the cord just right. (Can anyone suggest a better way to "finish-off" the joined area?)

  Thanks to  Jan from Carrscorner, for telling me about this.

Materials Used
    3/8" Shock Cord (1 yard per spring)
                057-0067  $.38 per ft*
    3/4" hog rings
                028-1217  $2.50 per 1# box*
Catalog numbers and prices are from B & H Upholstery, in Eugene Oregon.  Phone: 800-452-6078
You may be able to this shock cord / bungee cord at your local hardware store, or from your upholstery supplier

Editior's note: Since this type of spring is rarely used, because of time restraints, it was decided to leave this article unfinished for now. However, we will leave the web page here in case it can help someone.


Upholstery Paddings


Note, we do sell this paddings. This page is merely here to give you a picture and a description of these items.

Modern Upholstery Paddings



Upholstery cotton comes in rolls of about 27" wide, about 1" thick, about 1 yard per pound, 18 to 22 pounds per roll.

Upholstery cotton is generally available in several grades, such as those listed below. (The actual grades available may very with each supplier):

Rating  Blend  Description*
Good 10/90 Blend of first cuts and picker/binder cotton
Better 30/70  Blend of first cuts, gen flues, and binder
Best 50/50  Blend of first cuts, #1 staple, and polyester

*Blend and description information taken from the Hoch & Selby supply catalog. Blends and descriptions from other sources may vary.




Dacron Polyester


Dacron is generally used as a wrap to go around foam, as shown below. 










Here is a polyfoam cushion that has been wrapped with the above Dacron Polyester.









Latex Foam

Latex Foam












We have worked in the following types of wool padding. Generally, when a client wants wool padding, they want natural upholstery paddings (otherwise known as green upholstery paddings). If this is the case, if you are using wool to pad the furniture, then you would use the wool pad as the under (base) padding, with the wool roll as the top padding.

Wool Pad

This wool pad is very dense, well suited for the base padding of the furniture frame, with the wool roll padding (see below) used over this.

Woolpad samplewoolpad arm

wool pad cushion







Wool in the Roll

Wool in the roll

This wool roll padding is very light and fluffy. It needs an under (base) padding, such as the above wool pad. When we used this padding, after putting the wool pad down, we then put about 6 to 8 layers of this padding over the top. This needs a lot of layers to give it some bulk.




Loose Wool

loose wool

This loose wool padding is suited for filling pillows and other uses that need an adjustable filling. This has a similar feel to "chopped-cotton". It is much denser than the wool in the roll. This needs no other filler because it has sufficient bulk by itself.





Paddings Used in Antiques and Older Furniture




 This shows the kapok still on the tree. After the kapok has been harvested, only the soft fibers were used for upholstery.

Picture from








Coconut Fiber




Dried Tree Moss


Dried Grass






Tow (made from flax straw) has been used as padding in upholstery. The flax fibers are separated during processing so that the fibers are finer than hair.


Wood Wool (Excelsior)

WoodWoolWood wool (wood shavings) has many uses, including the stuffing for teady bears. In the upholstery trade wood wool is called excelsior and was used as padding in many types of upholstered antiques.

Excelsior is also used wherever the padding needs fill bulk and yet be firm, such as filling leather ottomans (that have no wood frames, but rely entirely upon the filling for support. In this case, the excelsior fills most of the interior, but an inch or two at the top, which is usually cotton or foam.)


Down/Feathers for cushions

I get some people who inquire about getting “Down/Feather” fill for their seat cushions. First, let me say that in it's proper use, down is a wonderful material. When it is used in jackets or in comforters it is very light and keeps the warm in very well. In that use it is a great project.

Secondly, let’s address the topic of “down/feathers”. Unless you pay a lot of money for mostly down, what you get is mostly feathers (95% feathers and 5% down). It seems to me that “Down/Feathers” at that percentage is mostly a marketing gimmick. 5% down would not even be noticeable. So what you really have is feathers, so I will use that name.

I do not recommend feather filling for seat cushions (because when you sit on a cushion you put almost all of your weight on it and crush the softness out of it.)  It is almost worthless as a filling used under you to support your weight.  Although it “sounds” like it would be wonderfully soft, the reality is that you would sit right through a “soft” seat cushion and bottom out. If you fill a cushion full enough with down/feathers to make it firmer, then it becomes hard and looks “bulgy”. In addition, to use down/feathers in a seat cushion, the cushion would need to be lined. However, just lining it is not enough. If you put all the feathers in a big open cover the feathers would tend to scoot to the side as much as it could. In addition, it would not give you much support. To better the use of down in a seat cushion you would need to use a down-proof pillow ticking with several horizontal pockets: a center pocket holds a foam core (at least 1/2 the height of the cushion. it would also need to have pockets on the top and bottom for the feathers. however, when you sit on feathers they tend to move to the edges of the cushion. So, the top and bottom pockets need dividers to keep the feathers in place. However, even with all of those extra measures, the reality of what you get does not measure up to the illusion of a “down filled” cushion. Of course, no one wants to admit that they are not comfortable, thinking that they have the “luxury” of down.

The other place where down is better used is in throw pillows or in back pillows. However, again, the illusion is more profound than reality. The feathers in “down/feather-filled” back pillows usually drop down to the bottom so that is is just a big bulgy pillow. In order to make the back pillow stand upright the back cushion needs to have baffles (pockets) sewn into it (kind of like stacking 3 or 4 feather-filed tubes on top of one another. The pockets help to keep the feathers in place. This arrangement is more acceptable because as you lean back against the cushion you are only putting a limited amount of your weight against it. Many people may find this quite acceptable.

Foam Cushions


Foam Quality & Density


Foam Come in a variety of qualities and densities. By quality, we are generally referring to the density. Density means, how dense is the foam = How much foam material is contained in a given amount of space. For practical purposes, the density of foam is measured by weight. For example, a low quality foam might weigh approximately one pound a specific size, while a high quality foam for upholstery might weight about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds for the same size.
Foam Samples
In our shop we don't stock polyfoam, but we do have some foam samples in the various qualities and softnesses. On the sides of the samples, as shown the picture, the grade numbers are marked. The grade number consists of two specifications. the first two digits denote the density. The second two numbers denote firmness. For example, a specific size of the 2535 foam will weigh 2.5 pounds and will have a compression ratio of 35 pounds. (It takes 35 pounds to compress that foam a specific amount.)
A question was asked recently, on another board, about how to create a crown (or crest) on a flat foam cushion. There are probably many ways to do this, here is one way.

Now, about getting a "crown" on the cushions.


Making a little bit of a crown:


Small crown cushionAfter cutting your foam to size, you can just wrap or glue about 1" bonded dacron wrap onto each side of the foam may give you the look you want. It gives a little bit of a crown.

When this is stuffed into the cushion, it will give a rounded effect. (which I use for most of my jobs.)





Getting more of a Crown:


high crown foam cushionIf you want more of a crown than that (see drawing below), to give a higher crown on a foam cushion (see A in Drawing), you can start by cutting a piece of 1/2" foam about 2/3 the size of the foam (B in drawing). Be sure to taper (cut at a slant) the edges of the dacron. Then glue it to the center of the top and bottom of the foam. Then, for the layer of Dacron (C in Drawing), cut 2 pieces the same size as the foam and glue one on each side of the foam, on top of the smaller pieces of Dacron. 

Then, as papasage said (on that other board), you can cut the cushion side boxing narrower. For instance, if you are using 5 inch foam, you can also cut the boxing about 5 " wide also. After it is sewn, the boxing will be 4" wide (It will cause the top and bottom of the cushion to come down over the side a little, which, when combined with the dacron wrap, will increase the "appearance" of a higher crown.)

I hope that helps.

Best Wishes,

Latex Foam



Info about latex Foam




Sources for Latex Foam

Sleep Like a Bear

Latex International Talalay Latex Mattress Toppers

Sources for Adhesives for Latex Foam

Most upholstery supplies will handle foam adhesives.


Foam for Upholstery

    You use a much softer foam on the backrest than on a seat because, when you sit on foam you are putting much more weight on the seat foam. By contrast, when you lean against the backrest, you put very little weight against it. (Remember, most of you weight is going to the seat foam.)
     Most seat foam has a firmness rating of aprox. 26 lbs to 30 lbs (soft), 30 lbs to 40 lbs (medium), 40 lbs to 48 lbs (Firm) and 49 lbs to 55 lbs (Extra Firm)
     Conversely, firmness ratings for backrests run about 15 lbs to 20, very soft 20 lbs to 24 (medium-soft)
soft foarm for backs
     So, when you choose a back foam

Foam is Rated by weight and density


Foam Ratings & Usages
Usage Rating Weight   Density   Foam ID 
Seat Cushions Soft 1.5 to 2.5 lb   22 to 30    
  Medium 1.5 to 2.5 lb   30 to 40    
  Firm 1.5 to 2.7 lb   40 to 50    
  Extra Firm 1.5 to 2.9 lb   50 to 55    
Back Cushions Very Soft      10 to 18    
  Medium Soft      18 to 23    
  Firm      23 to 28    


Upholstery Foams

Upholstery Supplies


In upholstery there are basically three types of supplies. There isn't a clear separation of the 3 types, because they overlap with each other. Many of the supplies in any group might just as well fit in one or two of the other groups. But here is how we generally identify them.

  1. Supplies ordered and used for a specific job
  2. General supplies used for all jobs.
  3. Shop Supplies, of a more general nature, used to keep the shop going.

Some of the pages connected to this group may give a general overview of each of the above groups. Other pages will give a more specific description of individual or similar types of tools.



 Power Pro Screws


Power Pro Screws


I recently found a new type of screw that I had not seen before.





 As I was going to the screw aisle of our hardware store, I saw a cart of these screws. Having used the torx head before, I decided to give these a try.



This close up show the head that takes a torx driver.

Power Pro Screws Close Up

In many cases the screw can be driven in with a power driver without predrilling the screw hole.

The only negative thing I've noticed with these screws is that they can break easily when using a power driver. So you must be careful not to drive them into the wood too deeply because they might break.

Glues and Adhesives

Glue Choices

Do you need to know what kind of glue to use for your project(s)?. Here are some resources to help you make a wise choice.

This to That:* What Glue should you use to glue two different types of material together? This website gives some recommended glues for each type of material.

Titebond:* Professional Titebond Cabinet Shop and Woodworking glues. Go to their website to download the Product & Application Technical Guide

Homestead Finishing Products:* Woodworking Glues - Some Facts That Will Stick   by Jeff Jewitt. is an article about various types of glue and how they work.

The Wood Magazine has a "Guide to Woodworking Glues*" on their website

Visit the Woodweb for "The largest collection of woodworking related information all in Woodweb's Knowledge Base.*"

*For these web links, special thanks to Keith from the
Guardsman FurniturePro Cincinnati East

Shop Supplies

Shop Supplies

  1. Fine Tipped Marking Devices (Used to mark fabric before cutting. The type of marker used depends on the color and type of fabric, and the color and type of marker)
    1. Tailor's chalk
    2. Carpenter's pencils
    3. Fabric Marking Pencils
    4. Don't use felt tipped markers, such as Sharpies. The may bleed through the fabric with time, use, and cleaning.
  2. Masking Tape: apply to the back of fabrics and mark clien't name or furniture part ID on it.
  3. Antiseptic spray
  4. Bandaids: In upholstery, there are numerous things to give you tiny knicks or cuts. Use a bandage on ALL cuts and knicks, no matter how small. Even the tiniest cut can bleed a drop of blood that can make have redo a large part of your furniture project. The bandaid keeps you from bleeding on the fabric.
  5. First Aid Kit: You get to figure this one out.
  6. Fine steel wool
  7. Old English Scratch Cover Polish
  8. Carpenter's yellow wood glue
  9. Single edge razor blades
  10. Button Molds (sizes 22, 30, 36, 45, 60)
  11. Disinfectant spray: used to kill bugs and ... inside the old furniture.
  12. Painter's Plastic, roll of 9' wide X 400 ft . Good for:
    1. Covering up stuff, to shield from overspray when you use foam glue.
    2. Also good for laying over a dirty table when you want to keep stuff clean.
    3. Good for wrapping finished jobs.
    4. Can also use as a substitute plastic for vacuum stuffing cushions.
  13. Flooring Paper: roll of about 35" wide: good to make patterns (or any type of wide paper might also work, butcher paper, maybe newsprint paper.)

Upholstery Threads

What Type of Decking Fabric

The Question was asked, "What type of decking does each upholsterers use?

My Response:
I generally keep a roll of regular decking fabric on hand. Right now the roll is kind of a goldish beige. I've also had rolls of beige, and also had dark blue, which I'd only use on certain colors.
I've also used a variety of different fabrics. I like self-decks, if I have enough fabric for the job. Often I have used the regular decking fabric. Also, at times I have went down to the local fabric store when they have had sales, and buy whatever is heavy and cheap in earth colors. Sometimes I'd buy a inexpensive fabric that would go with the fabric I'm working with. I'd especially go to a fabric store if there is not enough fabric for a self deck, and I don't like how the decking fabric I have goes with the fabric I'm working on.

I guess part of my motivation for not using self-decks to often is wanting to save as much of the covering fabric as possible in case I make a mistake and have to recut something. Also, whenever I do self deck, I often use stretcher cloths around the sides and back of the self-deck, which causes extra work. I hate to waste fabric, and using self-deck without the stretcher cloths seems like wasting the fabric, but it is extra work. (so I contradict myself here, oh well  )

But, as I'm writing this out, I'm rethinking this. I really like the looks of self-deck. Something to think about doing more often.

Best Wishes,

Upholstery Trims

(first rough draft)
When you are reupholstering furniture with a trim between the fabric and the wood, What type of trim should you use. This article will give the pros and cons of each type of trim.

Gimp Trim

When I worked with my dad years ago we stocked many colors of gimp. In that case, it was always there ready to go.

Nowadays, for me, a 36 yard card of gimp cost $15 wholesale, plus shipping. I'm not sure how many colors of gimp are available nowadays, but I have an old gimp chart that has 99 colors. Even it there were only half that many colors nowadays, that still $15 X 50 colors = $750. I'm not going to spend that much just to stock gimp. My other choice is to either order in a roll of gimp each time I need 2 yards of gimp, or go take my time to run across town to a fabric store to get a couple yards of gimp. If a client wants gimp, I send them to the fabric store to buy it.

Double Welt

One reason I also like double welt is that it always matches.

Then, most of the people I give double welt as an option, choose double welt. So, while I still use gimp occasionally, most of the time I use double welt. Besides the customer liking it, it is a lot simpler for me to make up the double welt that it is to run across town, not finding a good match, or having order it in. Making a few feet or a few yards of double welt is easier and less expensive than the options.



Double Welt

Double cording (also called double welting) is used in upholstery between the wood and the fabric joins. It is used to cover up the staple or tacks that are used to attach the fabric to the frame.

To make and attach double welt to a fabric covered furniture, these supplies are recommended

Supplies for making the welt.

  • The upholstery fabric
  • Scissors to cut the fabric
  • Ruler to mark the straight lines
  • Marker
  • Sewing machine
  • Double welt foot for sewing machine
  • Cording (They sell a double cording, but I've never used it. I use the standard 5/32" welt)
  • Thread to match the color of the fabric

Supplies for attaching the double welt to the furniture

  • spray paint same color as the fabric
  • light sandpaper
  • stapler with a long snout
  • thin wire staples



Making the Double Cording

If you don't have a double cording foot for your sewing machine, purchase one. A professional upholsterer should have the necessary tools of the trade, and this is one tool you should have.

Even though I have had some premade double cording filling, I have never used it on a job. (Which is not to say that you shouldn't use it, maybe you can figure it out better than I could.

I use the standard 5/32" single welt, and just sew it twice.

  1. Cut the fabric strips at least 2 1/4" wide. It can be cut up the roll or diagnally. If you have a fabric that unravels easily, then cut it diagonally.
  2. Sew the cording along one side with a little seam allowance sticking out
  3. Trim off the seam allowance along the seam so that only about 1/8" of the allowance remains
  4. Using the double cording foot on your sewing machine, fold and sew the other cording tight against the first cording, as you sew between the two cordings
  5. After the cording has been sewn, trim off the extra fabric on the back side to about 1/8th to 3/16". (Check that the raw edges don't show from the front.)

Attaching the Double Cording

There are multiple ways to attach the double welt to the frame.The way that I have settle on in recent years is I staple the double welt to the frame.

  1. First, lightly sand the top of the staples so that the paint will better adher to the staples. 
  2. Spray paint the top of the staples with a spray paint that matches (as close as possible) the color of the fabric.
  3. Attach  the double cording by stapling the colored staples right on the stitch line in the center of the double cording.
  4. Then, using a pair of pliers, squeeze the two cordings together to cover up the center staples as much as possible.

Alternate Method
Another method of attaching double cording is to use a white glue or fabric glue. Using this method you need to be much more careful to watch that you don't get the glue on the fabric. White glue ususlly dries clear and it holds the welting quite securely in place IF it has been properly glued and dried in place.

If possible, lay the furniture in such a way that the working area flat. For instance, if you will be putting the double weld on the front base, then lay the furniture on its back. You can apply glue in areas that are not flat. You just need to be more careful. Tip: get a piece of thin plastic (i.e. painter's drop cloth/plastic) and cover up any fabric areas where the glue might drop onto.

Sqeeze the glue out onto the stapled area about a foot or two at a time. Then press the double cord down onto the glued area and "lightly" put a few staples into the cording to hold it in place as the glue dries. (Once the glue has dried, pull the staples out).


DO NOT use hot glue to fasten the double cording onto the furniture. It may be quicker but it does not hold securely and the job is much sloppier. The hot glue often stick out from under the cording and sometimes gets on the fabric. I speak from experience. I do not recommend using hot glue.

Two Color Double Welt Trim

Occassionally an upholstery client may request two color double welt around the wood.

Here's sample of beige and black vinyl double welt (layed on a red table).  Making it can be pretty simple.


Making 2-Color Double Welt

First Cut your two strips of fabric about 1 1/2" wide.
Sew together, put your first color of welt into you sewing machine as if you were going to sew it as a single welt. Then put the second color face down on top of the first welt, and sew the two pieces together like this:

After sewing, trim the seam allowance on the back close to the seam:

Then wrap the second fabric around the next strip of cording and sew it together through the top:

After sewing, trim fabric close to the seam on the back side of the welt.