Whether you’ve been a professional upholsterer for years or you’ve recently started out, you’ll continue to learn upholstery tips throughout your professional career. Learning and improving is important, it’s what helps us stay passionate about the things we do.
As such, we spoke to multiple professional upholsterers and asked them to share some of their upholstery tips. Upholstery tips and techniques that they wish they’d known sooner, rather than later.
“Learn the foam cushion/vacuum technique”.
Finding yourself constantly inventing new wrestling techniques to put foam cushions into covers? We’ve all been there, don’t worry. Luckily for you, there’s a great upholstery technique which is going to save you plenty of aggravation.
Upholsterers silk or silk film is a thin material which can be wrapped around foam cushions. If you have a vacuum cleaner to hand, you can effectively shrink your foam cushion temporarily. This technique helps to easily insert the foam into the cushion cover.
How do you do it? Put the silk film around your cushion and plug in your vacuum cleaner. Take the vacuum cleaner nozzle and create an air tight seal around the bag and the nozzle. Switch your vacuum on and watch as it begins to shrink.
Once all the air has been pushed out of the foam, it’ll be easy to insert into the cushion cover. With the vacuum cleaner removed and the bag held shut, insert your foam cushion into the cover. Allow air to return to the foam cushion and then carefully cut away the silk film.
This technique can also be replicated with a bin bag or something similar. With that said, it’s still easier to do with upholsterer’s silk.
“Learn to say no to work”.
Sure, sometimes it’s not wise to turn down work. What you need to remember though, is that time is money. Your time is valuable and you want to be spending what you do have as effectively as possible.
As an upholsterer you will have adopted your own unique style of working. You may be great at what you do and you may be versatile in your working style, but sometimes a job just isn’t worth taking on. Learn to analyse a job before you accept it and build up the confidence to say “no” if a job just isn’t worth doing.
As a professional, you may find that trying to fix and complete the work of a novice will cost you more in time than the money is worth. You may have to change your unique style to complete the job and in the end, it may still not be up to your standards. In that time, you might have been able to complete three easier jobs and made more money in the process. 1 awkward and difficult job or 3 easy ones that pay out more! We know which we’d prefer.
“Before you continue, always stand well back to assess your work”.
It may seem like common sense, but it’s all too easy to sometimes get into a rhythm when working on a job. Of course, it’s nice to get a job done fast. What isn’t nice, is realising you’ve made a mistake at the very end.
If there’s one upholstery tip you take away from reading this, it should be the following. Take regular breaks, stand well back and assess your work. There’s nothing worse than having to do a job over because of a simple mistake.
Ultimately, if you do get to the end and find you’ve made a mistake; re-do it and make it right. Delivering your best work is what’s important as a professional and it’s worth a lot more to you than trying to hide any flaws.
“Take pictures of your finished work”.
A good quality camera picks up more detail than the naked eye does. If you really want to be certain of the quality of your work, take some pictures of the finished product. Be sure to take multiple pictures and then give yourself a break.
Take some time to analyse the pictures, you may well be surprised what you spot. This is a great tip for upholsterers wanting to improve the quality of their work. The more you do this, the better you’ll become and the more likely you’ll be to avoid those smaller imperfections.
“Steam is your friend”.
Learn to use steam to your advantage and your work will literally shine for it. As an upholsterer, you’re naturally going to be working with old furniture, often. Such furniture could well be older than yourself and may not have ever been cleaned properly.
Imagine how filthy you’d be if you’d never once washed. When it comes to the furniture you’re working with, this may well be the case. Steam helps to restore furniture back to its former glory.
Also, if you’re working with steam around wood, don’t panic if the wood turns a shade of white. A wipe with rubbing alcohol should sort that out.