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How to Upholster a Church Pew

Jason M. Bruner

It can be very expensive to have the pews in your church upholstered by a professional, particularly if the church contains many pews. If you can do it yourself, you will save your church a lot of time and a large amount of money. By properly preparing yourself for the task, and following these few simple steps, you will be able to complete the task with no problems.

Upholstered pews will add to the comfort of being at church.
  1. Measure the pews for materials using the measuring tape. Proper measuring will keep you from making a mistake later, so make sure that you measure with care.

  2. Complete your first measurement. This measurement will be for the foam lining. Measure the length and width of the seat and back portion of the pew, ensuring a snug fit. You can purchase foam at an upholstery shop or foam specialty store by providing your measurements.

  3. Complete your second measurement. This measurement will be for the fabric that will cover the foam. When measuring, allow about 6 inches of extra fabric per pew. Remember, you are covering the pews and the foam, so you will need the extra fabric to ensure complete coverage.

  4. Decide on the fabric that will be used to upholster the pews. If you were unable to purchase material large enough, you may need to sew two or three pieces together on a sewing machine so that you have pieces large enough to cover the foam and the pew.

  5. After the foam is in place, begin covering the foam with the fabric that has been measured and sewn. You will find an air-powered staple gun very helpful. You can use your standard hand-held staple gun, but it will take you longer to complete your project. You can usually rent an air-powered staple gun at your local hardware or home improvement store.

  6. Begin stapling the fabric over the foam, beginning with the back of the pew. This will make it easier to slide in the bottom foam. Fold the hem under once or twice and pull the fabric tightly so that there is enough tension to create a smooth, neat look across the back of the pew. Staple the fabric around the edges 3 to 6 inches apart, and about 3 inches into the back of the pew. Repeat the same process on the seat of the pew, but begin by stapling the fabric into the back portion of the pew first, insert the foam, then continue stapling.

    The corners can be a bit tricky, but if you work slowly and carefully, you will find success. Drape the fabric over the corner of the seat. With fabric scissors, cut a slit just up to the corner of the wood. Tightly draw the side piece under the front piece and staple it in place. Then tightly draw the front piece over the side piece and staple it in place.

  7. Once the upholstery project is complete, vacuum the newly upholstered pews to remove any stray threads.