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What Do Reupholsterers Do?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Reupholsterers are people who work to recondition old furniture. This may involve stripping off the old upholstery and simply replacing it with new upholstery, or it may involve a more in-depth repair. Reupholsterers may need to pull out old cushioning or batting, replace springs, replace structural elements, and otherwise examine the furniture to determine its overall condition and its repair needs. A reupholsterer may work exclusively in this capacity, or he or she may work as an upholsterer as well; this person cuts and installs upholstery on new furniture as well as used furniture.

Upholstery includes the outer covering of a chair or piece of furniture, the cushioning or batting, the springs, and the webbing that holds all of the components together. Reupholsterers generally work with used pieces of furniture that need reconditioning, they will often need to be able to discuss upholstery options with a customer. The primary job of a reupholsterer is to ensure the used chair is reconditioned properly without damaging the unit any further than it already is, and to otherwise restore it to usable condition. A visual assessment is usually made before any work is done, though once the outer layer of upholstery is removed, further examination may reveal more work to be done.

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Old springs within the chair or piece of furniture may need to be replaced by reupholsterers. This will prevent sagging when a person sits in the chair, and it will help prevent any further damage to structural elements of the furniture. Other internal elements such as webbing may need to be replaced as well; webbing is a strip of fabric that can be used as a structural element or as a reinforcement for other materials. Other layers of fabric may be present to hide springs and structural elements, and these are commonly replaced and repaired by reupholsterers as well.

Furniture restorers may hire reupholsterers to work exclusively for them, though these jobs tend to be scarcer than other types of upholstery jobs, such as working for a larger furniture manufacturer. A reupholsterer may work on warranty items, or he or she may work simply as an upholsterer who installs upholstery elements in new pieces of furniture. It is not uncommon for a reupholsterer to work in more than one capacity; he or she may, for example, work on the upholstery as well as on building the structural elements of the piece of furniture.

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