How to set and replace upholstery buttons

How to set and replace upholstery buttons

If you’re missing a button from a couch or chair, you can replace it easily enough, the hard part is finding the extra-long needle. Without a really long needle, you’ll have quite a time putting the button back in, but these types of needles aren’t sold just anywhere. Probably you’ll have to ask if you can purchase one from an upholstery shop, who may or may not cooperate with you, or you can visit a store that sells upholstery needs, like a foam or upholstery fabric store.

Sometimes these small businesses will carry a few things the upholster might need. You can also do a search for an upholstery needle or button needle and purchase from the internet, but you might have to buy them in packs. The needle isn’t your only problem, either. You have to undo a few things to reach the button area of the sofa or chair, so you’ll need a staple gun to put the furniture back together.

If the button is in the front part of the back of a chair or sofa, you’ll need to loosen the very back piece of the furniture. This is called the outside back. Loosen it along the bottom and up the sides, until you can comfortably slip your arm in and feel the cushion back. The sides of the outside back have probably been attached using a tacking strip, which is a cardboard strip with tacks every inch or so. Use a flat screwdriver or butter knife to pry the tacking strip up. Cut a piece of twine, about two feet long. Thread the button through on one end of the twine, then holding both ends of the twine together with the button dangling in the middle, thread both ends through the needle.

Pull the needle up about half the length of the twine. Push the needle through the previous button position, then reach up from under the outside back to pull the needle on through. Make sure both ends of the twine are pulled all the way through. To sink the button the proper amount, pull on the ends of the twine. When the button is in as far as it should be. Staple the twine ends, then fold over the top of the staple and staple once again. Trim the excess twine. Re-attach the tacking strip, then staple the outside back across the bottom.

Missing buttons on arm pillows are simpler because you don’t have to disassemble anything. Place the button on the twine, fold the twine in half and thread the needle with both ends of the twine. Push the needle through the cushion and out through the other side. If a button belongs on that side too, align the needle to where it emerges from the previous button position. After pulling the needle and both twine ends completely through, slide the second button onto one end of the twine. Tie a slip knot and pull until both buttons are in their proper position, then tie a square knot to hold.

For buttons on a footstool, just push the needle in from the top, and out from the bottom, Pull the button in as much as needed, then staple the twine to the side frame of the stool.

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