What is an Upholsterer?

Also known as: Marine Upholsterer, Commercial Upholsterer, Automobile Upholsterer, Traditional Upholsterer, Upholstered Goods Crafter, Furniture Upholsterer.

Upholsterers make, replace, and repair coverings on furniture and in vehicles. Most work for household and institutional furniture manufacturers, upholstery shops, and automotive interior repair shops.

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What does an Upholsterer do?

Upholsterers typically do the following:

  • Consult with clients to discuss alterations to the furniture and to help customers choose fabric
  • Estimate costs for the project, including approximate fabric and labor costs
  • Inspect furniture to find needed repairs in the frame, upholstery, and springs
  • Remove and replace old and worn padding, filling, and broken springs
  • Measure, cut, and sew fabric, and attach it to the furniture frame with tacks, staples and glue.

Upholsterers put on covering and cushions to create new furniture and update old furniture and vehicle interiors. Although some upholsterers specialize in either working with old furniture or creating new furniture, most do both. Upholsterers need to stay current with trends in furniture design and styles. They help choose fabrics that meet their customer's lifestyle, preferences, and needs. For example, upholsterers may help a client who has young children choose a long-lasting and durable fabric for a family room sofa that matches other furniture.

Sometimes they have to choose fabrics that meet building codes—such as being fire resistant—or fabrics that reflect the style of the building. They also may work with interior designers and architects who need furniture for a new building.

Upholsterers may specialize in working on replacing upholstery for the interiors of boats, cars and recreational vehicles. They upholster seats, carpet floors, and cover door panels. To replace interiors with another fabric or other material, such as leather, these workers first remove the seats from the vehicle before replacing the upholstery. Some upholsterers own their business. In these cases, they may do management and administrative tasks, such as managing the finances of their business and taking orders.

What is the workplace of an Upholsterer like?

Most upholsterers work for household and institutional furniture manufacturers, upholstery shops, and automotive interior repair shops. About 36% of workers were self-employed in 2010. Some self-employed upholsterers work out of their home. Most upholsterers work full time. Some work nights and weekends to accommodate customers’ schedules.

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