How to Upholster a Church Pew

The cost to have a set of church pews upholstered is astronomical, particularly if the church contains many seats. You can cut way down on the cost, though, by purchasing the fabric through a fabric outlet and doing the upholstery work yourself.

If the pews originally had padding and covering, remove it all. If it never had upholstery – even better. Decide on the fabric you’ll be using. Cheaper isn’t always better. Some fabrics aren’t very pliable and others unravel as you work with them. Ask the sales person to recommend a fabric that will be easy to work with, has been Scotch-guarded from the factory, and that’s suitable for church decor.

The next order of business is to choose the foam for the pews. This will be a large order so try to locate a foam outlet. Many areas that are known for having lots of furniture factories also have discounted foam. Foam comes in various densities, lengths and widths. It’s best if you purchase foam that will fit well immediately, rather than trying to cut it down to size.

Make sure you have the pew measurements for length and width. If the foam outlet doesn’t have foam in the length you need, buy enough to butt pieces together to cover the entire seat of each pew. Cut the foam to where it is of equal lengths rather than laying various lengths of foam across the seat. If pews are arched you’ll need to cut the foam to fit as well.

After having your foam pieces cut to fit each individual pew it’s time to attach the cloth. An air-powered staple gun will be extremely helpful. Without it, this task can take quite a length of time. It’s important to cut the fabric into sections to match the way you cut the foam. If the foam is lain with three pieces across the pew, cut the fabric into three pieces.

Stitch the fabric pieces together so that you’ll be working with one long piece. Find the center of the bench seat and the center of the long fabric. Align and staple to secure. Find the exact opposite spot on the fabric, and on the bench, and staple to hold the fabric in place.

Now go to one end of the pew and staple the center of the cloth to the center of the bench. Do the same at the opposite end of the pew. Make sure the fabric is taut as you go around the foam, stapling the fabric to the bench. Be sure you press the staple gun right up against the foam as you staple.

As you arrive at corners fold one side around the corner and the other side of the fabric over the top of that one. Staple to secure. After the staples are in place upholsterers usually cover the staples in gimp and gimp tacks but there’s a much quicker way to hide the staples. Use a hot glue gun to attach the gimp into place, over the top of the staples. Gimp can be purchased from an upholsterer or from some sewing notion shops.

It’s slightly difficult to place staples and gimp behind the foam. Just mash the foam as flat as possible, pushing it slightly forward as you work. You’ll take pride in your upholstery job, even if you’ve never done that type of work before. Recovering pews is a simple, if time-consuming project that’s easy enough for anyone to accomplish.

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