Upholstery Care and Maintenance Tips

Upholstering your furniture is a way of making it functional and beautiful. While it may have a protective and decorative function, it also helps make the furniture comfy. However, it is prone to wear and tear through the regular use of the furniture. As such, reupholstering is a common solution especially for most antique pieces of furniture. Even today, stripping upholstered furniture down to the frame is commonplace.

Cleaning Spills

Use kitchen paper to blot spills immediately after they occur; do this repeatedly to ensure you remove as much liquid as possible. Avoid trying to use heat, by using a hair dryer or something else, just to speed up the drying process. It may sound wise, but is may cause permanent stains or shrinkage. Next, check the state of the surface after blotting to figure out if you need work on stains. Consider finding out from experts such as textile and upholstery conservator about the best methods of removing the stains.

A trick that can work is to lightly dampen the stain and then blot away much of the water and this will in the process remove the stains. Repeat the process if the stain is still a bit notable, remembering to blot thoroughly with each stage. But, upholstery is often layered and this makes it hard to separate the effects of using water or other liquids to remove stains. Tidelines can form as the liquids draw up dirt from the inner layers or certain colours can run. The outcomes may be permanent and trying to work on the stain only exasperates the damage.

Cleaning Upholstery

Always consult an upholstery conservator before cleaning top covers on upholstered vintage furniture. In most cases, the tacks used on the top covers are firmly nailed into the wooden frame thus the heads of the tacks are penetratingly impressed into the fabric. Levering the tacks out, more so if they are weak and rusted, weakens the material and is most likely to tear the textile.

The conservator will expertly remove the tack and the cover, minimising the possibility of damage and will use the appropriate cleaning method. Conversely, originally fitted upholstery is stretched under tension during fitting and then trimmed. If removed, the fabric may be hard to refit since there is less material available to be re-tensioned during fitting.

Drop-in seat frames ought to be returned to their original chair. It is unwise to interchange framework within sets; some are even made with a design that is not interchangeable. The top covers on the drop-in seat are often layered one over the other, often with an extra wadding layer. Sometimes, it is possible to find the original cover and profile intact underneath. Nevertheless, a wedge can be formed if enough layers are added, and this forces joints to part or the rebates of the chair to break where the seat affixes to the frame.

Reupholstering Chairs

The use of conventional upholstery techniques and perhaps materials is a common mistake made when reupholstering furniture. Most of the technique were popular in the 19th century and were inappropriately applied thus resulting in upholstering that was over-stuffed, bulky and thus incorrectly done. Consulting with a vintage upholstery expert or upholstery conservator can help limit or avoid making such mistakes.

Sometimes, the original upholstery can be evident on the furniture. Look for an inconspicuous place such as the back of the furniture and life a small section of the top cover. Check for the previous materials used or fragments of the same.

Alternatively, tack holes can be a good place to check for the original upholstery. If all tack holes are done over the new upholstery, then its most likely they are done over with the original material underneath. Also, the original decorative nailing can be checked to find the tack hole pattern used on the previous upholstery.

If the previous upholstery is not evident, then commissioning a fresh upholstery will suffice. Most upholstery conservators advocate for the use of stainless steel staples as opposed to traditional tacks; the former causes less damage to the original frame of the furniture than the conventional tacks. As such, reupholstering using the stainless steel staples will extend the original frame’s lifespan.

For more advice and information on upholstery in the Guildford and surrounding areas, please visit The Upholstery Workshop. With over 40 years of experience, they provides high quality services for all your upholstery needs.