Reupholstering Recliners 101: How to Cover the Arms of a Recliner

Are you looking for how to cover the arms of a recliner? This article will guide you through reupholstering recliners. Reupholstering can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be!

There are so many steps and tips that we want to share with you. We hope this article gives you all the information needed on how to restyle your old recliner or even help find new fabric for an upholstery project in another room in your house.

Reupholstering Recliners


Steps on Reupholstering a Recliner Arm

Step 1. First, you need to take the arm off of your recliner. It’s not hard! On most chairs, there is a zipper that runs along the backside of the cushion and it unzips all around leaving just the fabric on each side.

You can use scissors or a seam ripper to remove any leftover fabric from between these zippers.

Step 2. On the underside of the most arm, you’ll find buttons or a zipper that connects to an inside pocket with fabric in it. On jeans zippers, they open on both ends and can be removed by squeezing them together from either side and pulling apart.

Step 3. There are no buttons anywhere but your chair is probably still built this way so you need to unzip the pocket and push out the fabric.

Step 4. You’ll want to pull this fabric taught so that it makes a triangle shape against the underside of your arm without any folds or creases in it. This is how you’re going to know where to cut off excess when you put new upholstery on later. Cut with scissors.

Step 5. Once you’ve covered the arm in one fabric, there’s a chance that it’ll be too long and need to be cut off. You can measure how much needs trimmed with either measuring tape or by using your eye as a guide for how much should go over the edge onto your new upholstery when you fold it down later.

Step 6. Now that you’ve finished one arm, flip your fabric over the arms and do it to the other arm. If there’s any excess on either side of the chair when you’re done with both arms (i.e., if they don’t line up), trim off those edges again!


Benefits of Reupholstering Recliner Arms

A lot of people will simply cover the arms with a throw or some other type of blanket to make them more comfortable, but that can be inconvenient.

For example, if you have company over and one person wants to sit in your recliner while another is on the couch, it’s going to take up space that could otherwise be used for company.

Reupholstering the arms of your recliner will also make it look better and last longer!


How to Prevent Damage on Recliner Arms

When you first buy a new recliner, the arms are typically covered with some type of protective paper or plastic.

This is to prevent damage from happening during shipping and while it’s sitting on store shelves. It should be easy enough for anyone who knows how to cut fabric to remove this protective layer before reupholstering the arms.


How to Remove the Old Fabric

Step 1. The first step in any reupholstery project is removing the old fabric from all of your furniture pieces, and this includes how to remove the old fabric on recliner arm covers as well! The easiest way to do so is by using a spatula or carefully with your fingers.

Step 2. If you want to be more thorough, a simple and inexpensive solution is using rubbing alcohol on the fabric. The alcohol will break down the glue that’s holding it onto your furniture piece, making removal much easier.

Step 3. A third option for removing old fabric is by steaming it off with an iron or clothes steamer which will typically work well for most furniture pieces.

Step 4. If you’re finding it difficult to remove the fabric, and or part of your old fabric is sticking to the wood underneath, try using coarse sandpaper like 120 grit.


How to Cut Fabric

The next step in how to reupholster recliner arm covers is cutting the fabric.

Step 1. Cut the arm covers to size, making sure that it is larger than needed by several inches in each dimension as you will need this excess material when wrapping and tucking the cover around your recliner’s arms.

Step 2. If you’re using a furniture-grade nonwoven polyester or cotton blend like wool felt, try using a rotary cutter with a self-healing mat or scissors to cut the fabric.


How to Tape Fabric

Step 1. The next step in how to reupholster recliner arm covers is taping the edges of your new upholstery material over the arms of your chair.

Step 2. A good starting point for applying this tape is about an inch down from the edge of the arm cover.

Step 3. Fray end edges by pulling them apart. Thread a needle with thread, matching it to your fabric color, and run it through both ends of each frayed edge. Pull tightly but not so tight that you create any kinks in the fabric or leave a knot on one side for the other side to poke out.

Step 4. Once threaded, pull the thread taut and tie a knot at one end then wrap it around the edge of your arms cover nearest you like a tight bracelet or belt.

Step 5. Tie another knot in line with the first then trim off excess fabric from both knots so that they are even. Then take the other side of the threaded end and tie it off in a similar fashion, trimming away any excess fabric.

Step 6. Use your fingers to smooth out any wrinkles or kinks that may have formed over time from sitting on the chair. Enjoy your newer, fresher-looking arm cover!


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