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Can I Just Staple Fabric Over an Old Couch?

Ronna Pennington

Covering an old couch with fabric is one way to give it new life. You can make slipcovers and cushions, or, in some cases, you can simply staple fabric over the couch. The biggest factors to consider in deciding whether stapling is possible on your couch are the style of the couch and the kind of use it receives.

What to Look for in Style

Contemporary couches like this one are easily covered with fabric and staples.

If your couch has individual cushions, or wooden or metal arms, you should not staple fabric over it. Contemporary sofas with one-piece backs, seats, and upholstered arms work best for the stapling method. If you try to staple fabric over loose or individual cushions, you risk premature wearing of the new fabric. As people sit on your couch, the movements will rub the fabric against the cushions and make holes in the fabric.

Don't Get Staple Happy

When you staple fabric over a couch, do not staple everywhere. Start with the back piece, and staple under the couch. Bring fabric up and over the top, then tuck it into the back crease. Do the same with arms and the seat. You will be using a staple-and-tuck method. Use heavy-duty staples with a staple gun for the best results. Cut fabric long enough to allow for tucking.

How to Staple Fabric

The quality of your stapling will determine the quality of your finished couch. Keep the staple gun pressed firmly against the wooden frame when you staple. Secure the fabric with plenty of staples that lie flat on the frame. Tap down any that do not lie flat with a hammer. Smooth the fabric as you go to prevent wrinkling. Remember, staple only the areas on the underside of the couch.

Fabrics to Consider

You can cover a couch with just about any fabric, but some fabrics work better with staples than others. Cotton and chintz fabrics are a safe bet. Their fibers can accommodate the sharpness of the staples while still having enough drape for pulling over and tucking fabric. Fabrics made from wool, tweed, and twill are also good choices. Taffeta is not a good choice because staples can create small tears in that fabric.