Furniture upholsterer

A furniture upholsterer explains his craft


Furniture upholsterers provide furniture with padding, springs, webbing and covers. Sometimes they have to remove old padding, filling and broken strings before to replace them using tools such as a tack puller, chisel or mallet. The aim is to provide comfort and beauty to seats as backs of the furniture.

The duties of a furniture upholsterer include, but are not limited to:

  • planning the job with your client and estimating costs
  • measuring the furniture frame and preparing patterns
  • cutting out the fabric to pattern
  • fixing webbing and springs into seats
  • covering frames with padding and fabric using sewing machines, stitches, staples, tacks and glue
  • using decorative techniques such as fringing, piping and buttoning
  • renovating and re-upholstering old furniture
  • making up patterns for manufacturing and samples for trade shows
  • visiting customers to check possible faulty items and carrying out repairs.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to furniture upholsterer:

commercial upholster
mattress maker
craftsman upholster
soft furnishing maker
chair builder
heritage upholsterer
seat builder
chair maker
craftswoman upholster
seat maker
craft upholster
craftsperson upholster
mattress builder

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally required to work as a furniture upholsterer.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Furniture upholsterer is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Furniture upholsterer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to furniture upholsterer.

mattress maker
mattress making machine operator
frame maker
antique furniture reproducer

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of furniture upholsterer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of furniture upholsterer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

furniture shop manager
costume attendant
prosthetic-orthotics technician
printed circuit board designer
clothing process control technician

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of furniture upholsterer.

  • Upholstery tools: Set of tools used for upholstering furniture, walls and floors such as staple gun, foam cutter, staple remover.
  • Furniture trends: The latest trends and manufacturers in the furniture industry.
  • Textile materials: Have a good understanding of the properties of different textile materials.
  • Furniture industry: Companies and activities involved in the design, manufacture, distribution and sale of functional and decorative objects of household equipment.
  • Upholstery fillings: Materials used to fill soft furniture like upholstered chairs or mattresses must have several properties such as resilience, lightness, high-bulk properties. They can be fillings of animal origin such as feathers, of vegetal origin such as cotton wool or of synthetic fibers.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of furniture upholsterer.

  • Sew textile-based articles: Sew different products based on textiles and wearing apparel articles. Combine good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and physical and mental stamina.
  • Provide customized upholstery: Install custom upholstery, according to the customer’s individual requests and preferences.
  • Clean furniture: Remove dirt, marks and other unwanted material from furniture.
  • Use manual sewing techniques: Use manual sewing and stitching techniques to manufacture or repair fabrics or textile-based articles.
  • Install spring suspension: Nail down the springs to the wooden frame of a chair or other piece of furniture to be upholstered. In the case of mattresses, check the structure holding the springs for defects and fix the layers of protective fabrics to cover the spring suspension.
  • Sew pieces of fabric: Operate basic or specialised sewing machines whether domestic or industrial ones, sewing pieces of fabric, vinyl or leather in order to manufacture or repair wearing apparels, making sure the threads are selected according to specifications.
  • Perform upholstery repair: Repair/restore damaged upholstery for a wide range of vehicles; use materials such as fabric, leather, plastic or vinyl.
  • Fasten components: Fasten components together according to blueprints and technical plans in order to create subassemblies or finished products.
  • Cut textiles: Cut textiles fitting to customers’ desires and needs.
  • Create patterns for textile products: Create a two-dimensional model used to cut the material for textile products such as tents and bags, or for individual pieces needed for upholstery work.
  • Decorate furniture: Use techniques such as gilding, silver-plating, framing or engraving to add specific decorations in the material of the furniture.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of furniture upholsterer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Pass on trade techniques: Pass on knowledge and skills, explain and demonstrate the application of equipment and materials and answer questions about trade techniques for the manufacturing of products.
  • Apply restoration techniques: Select and apply appropriate restoration techniques in order to achieve the required restoration goals. This encompasses preventive measures, remedial measures, restoration processes and management processes.
  • Handle delivery of furniture goods: Handle the delivery and assemble the furniture and other goods, according to customer’s needs and preferences.
  • Manipulate metal: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of metal.
  • Evaluate restoration procedures: Evaluate the outcome of conservation and restoration procedures. Evaluate the degree of risk, success of treatment or activity and communicate the results.
  • Manipulate wood: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of wood.
  • Artificially age furniture: Use various techniques such as sanding, denting, painting and others to make new furniture look distressed and aged.
  • Fix minor scratches: Fix minor dents and scratches on the surface with touch-up paint or scratch remover.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Paint decorative designs: Apply designs in paint, using paint sprayers, paintbrushes or spray cans.
  • Estimate restoration costs: Estimate the cost implications of restoring and replacing products or parts.
  • Apply a protective layer: Apply a layer of protective solutions such as permethrine to protect the product from damage such as corrosion, fire or parasites, using a spray gun or paintbrush.
  • Sell household goods: Sell household devices and goods such as microwaves, blenders and kitchen supplies in accordance to the client’s personal preferences and needs.
  • Design original furniture: Master and develop industrial aesthetics through ongoing research of new shapes, adapted to the function of the objects the research deals with (domestic objects, urban furnitures, etc.).
  • Design prototypes: Design prototypes of products or components of products by applying design and engineering principles.
  • Sell furniture: Sell pieces of furniture in accordance to the client’s personal preferences and needs.
  • Repair furniture parts: Repair locks, pegs, braces, frames or other parts of furniture.
  • Prepare furniture for application of paint: Set up furniture for standard or custom paint job, protect any parts that should not be painted and prepare painting equipment.

ISCO group and title

7534 – Upholsterers and related workers

  1. Furniture upholsterer – ESCO
  2. Planit : Job Profiles : Upholsterer Furniture
  3. Featured image: By Basher Eyre, CC BY-SA 2.0
Last updated on October 21, 2022

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