Choosing The Correct Fabric To Reupholster And Restore Your Antique Furniture: How Upholstery Services Can Help

8 April 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Upholstered antique furniture is often reupholstered as it is passed down through the generations and/or sold off at auctions. If you have recently acquired a piece of antique furniture but you would like to reupholster it to coincide with the period in which it was made, you may want to consult with upholstery services that do repair and restoration. Here is how they can help you choose the correct fabric to reupholster your period piece and help it reflect its original period.

Peeling Back the Upholstery Carefully

One of the first things an upholstery restoration company will do is carefully pull back some of the current upholstery fabric. Sometimes reupholstery jobs done by furniture owners and not by furniture repair and restoration companies result in several layers of fabric cut, sewn and tacked over each previous layer. If your furniture restoration expert can peel back the top layer of cloth, then he or she might uncover a much older layer of fabric that might indicate how old the piece is. This needs to be done carefully so as to avoid ripping any of the layers of fabric underneath that could provide clues to the age of the piece.

Looking for Maker's Marks

Many furniture companies stamp or brand the furniture they make, and the older the piece of furniture, the more important these maker's marks become. They can tell your restoration upholsterer four things:

  • The country of origin of the piece
  • The approximate age of the piece
  • The original intended style of the piece
  • The possible value of the piece (and therefore the importance of restoring it correctly)

Once your upholsterer knows more about this piece of furniture, he or she can do a little research and then provide you with modern cloth samples that will most appropriately suit and restore the piece.

The Stripping and Restoring Process after You Have Selected Your Cloth

Finally, the layers of cloth, padding/batting, decorative studs (if they apply), and any stain, paint or lacquer are very carefully removed. Usually, an antique furniture restoration expert will start by restoring any visible wood parts, such as legs or arms or chair backs. If there are no visible wood features to the piece, then the reupholstering process begins with fresh padding or batting followed by the cloth selected by you and the expert. Small tacks instead of staples are also key in restoring antique furniture (because staples did not exist for use on antique furniture construction until the mid-twentieth century when a repeat, rapid fire stapler was invented), so be sure your expert does not use staples for any part of the assembly. Extra touches that are exclusive to the period from which the furniture originated are added last. 

To start your restoration process, get in touch with an upholstery company like Bob Arkus Custom Upholstery Inc today.