Revamp Your Furniture with Replacement Foam: A Guide to DIY Upholstery

Over time, the foam in your couches, armchairs and other furniture will break down. This results in furniture that is saggy and lumpy, making it look as unattractive as it is uncomfortable.

We’ve written before about how to replace the foam in your seat cushions. But with a little time and elbow grease, you can also replace the back cushion foam, armrest foam and other foam — even if these sections are attached to the furniture. Use our DIY upholstery tips to make your favorite furniture comfy and stylish again for many more years.

Furniture Foam Replacement Step-by-Step

Regardless of what foam you’re replacing in a couch or chair, it follows the same basic process. Here are the furniture foam replacement steps and the DIY upholstery supplies you’ll need. You should have your replacement foam ready when you begin.

Upholstery supplies for replacing couch or chair foam

  1. Take a few pictures of the furniture or some notes you can use for reference.
  2. Remove the old foam. Depending on the furniture’s construction, there are three possible methods for this.
    1. Check the underside (non-visible) section of the cushions for a zipper. If there is a zipper, open it and gently slide the old foam out.
    2. If the cushions do not have a zipper, use a seam ripper to open just enough of the seam that you can get the old foam out.
    3. If you are not able to get to the underside of the cushion, flip the furniture upside down and remove the upholstery staples using a staple remover and a pair of pliers. Remove just enough staples that you can lift the upholstery fabric and remove the foam.
  3. Insert the new cushions. You can purchase pre-cut furniture cushions or make them yourself using our guide on How to Cut Foam for Custom Cushions. Some other furniture may use stuffing or foam scraps, so determine what is needed before ordering foam sections or supplies.
  4. Based on the foam removal method, do one of the following to reassemble your furniture:
    1. Close the zipper and place the cushions.
    2. Use sewing pins to hold the fabric in place and then sew it together using durable nylon thread. Remember to fold the fabric inward so people can’t see the new seam.
    3. Reattach the fabric to the frame using an upholstery staple gun. You can also use fabric glue for added strength.

Reattaching fabric to furniture frame with upholstery gun

Other DIY Foam Upholstery Notes

  • Avoid thick fabrics (vinyl, leather, etc.) unless you’re an experienced DIYer. They are much harder to work with, especially if you’re sewing and need to fold the fabric.
  • If you determine that sewing or stapling will be required, practice on a smaller cushion or inexpensive piece first. Dining seat pads are recommended as a good “practice cushion” before tackling a bigger project.
  • Use high-quality foam, especially on high-traffic furniture. High-density polyurethane foam, memory foam and organic latex foam will last longer than standard furniture foam so you don’t need to replace it as often.

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