Types of Upholstery

What Is Upholstery?

Upholstery is a specialized skilled trade that entails the art of crafting and restoring fine furniture with quality details, such as diamond tufting, top stitching, channels, webbing, coil springs, “ultra-cell” foam, and padding. For high-end pieces, upholsterers may opt for designer brand fabrics or leather. Upholsterers today still use some of the same materials as their early predecessors, such as leather, linen, and coil springs. However, Dacron, foam, cotton padding, faux leather, and other synthetic materials have replaced animal hair (cow, horse, and hog), hay, and straw.

Upholstery can apply to both new, custom-made furniture that needs fitted with the appropriate materials or used furniture. In the latter case, the craft is referred to as reupholstery and can serve several purposes: to restore furniture in need of repair, to make furniture more comfortable, and to restyle furniture.

Three Types of Upholstery

Upholstery looks a little different depending on the particular field. Let’s take a look at three different types of upholstery: residential, commercial, and marine.

Residential Upholstery

Queen Anne upholsterer working on a chair

Also referred to as traditional or domestic upholstery, residential upholstery applies to furniture from individual residences. People who have something very specific in mind often seek out upholsterers to create furniture that is custom-tailored to their specific needs or taste. Those in need of reupholstery may want to update their quality furniture (contemporary, traditional, or antique) to match a new design scheme in their home, to fix furniture that has seen better days, or even to lengthen the lifespan of cherished pieces that have been passed down.

Residential upholsterers will work with clients to discuss their style preferences and needs, taking into consideration how durable the piece of furniture needs to be, whether anyone in the family has allergies to specific materials, and so on.




Residential items that may benefit from upholstery include:

If you need upholstery services for something in your home, contact a residential upholsterer to get an estimate.


Commercial Upholstery

Commercial upholstery extends the services of residential upholstery to a number of different commercial markets, such as hospitality, health and fitness centers, educational facilities, government and religious buildings.

Like residential upholsterers, commercial upholsterers can help with both reupholstery and custom-made furniture. Reupholstering their existing furniture allows businesses to:

  • Use more durable furniture. Well-restored furniture lasts much longer than mass-produced alternatives.
  • Support local businesses. Rather than importing new furniture that was probably made overseas, businesses can work with an upholsterer from their community.
  • Reduce any inconvenience to guests. Reupholstering takes less time than buying new furniture and also allows businesses to service only a few pieces at a time, leaving the rest in place for customers to use.
  • Invest in cost-effective options. Extending the life of existing furniture instead of buying new can save businesses money in the long run.
  • Make sustainable choices. Reupholstering is much more environmentally friendly than purchasing mass-produced furniture that contributes to global warming.

Upholstered restaurant booths

Rather than servicing one item, commercial upholstery often entails working with an entire set of furniture. Commercial upholsterers may reupholster or create:

  • Restaurant seating, such as:
  • Guest room furniture, including armchairs, headboards, and more
  • Office furniture, including partition panels and seating
  • Waiting room, lobby, and common area furniture
  • Specialty pieces for industries with specific needs

While most commercial upholsterers service businesses that are already open, they can also collaborate with project members during construction to help realize specific design goals. In these cases, commercial upholsterers offer their upholstery expertise and services to business owners, contractors, architects, builders, and millwork and casework shops while building takes place.

If your business could benefit from upholstery services, contact a commercial upholsterer for project-specific information.


Marine Upholstery

View into yacht’s new upholstered interior

Marine upholstery applies traditional upholstery services to yachts and other boats of all kinds. This type of upholstery presents certain difficulties that residential and commercial upholstery do not, as boats are often exposed to high levels of moisture, sunlight, and wear and tear. Upholsterers must choose fabrics and other materials that are mold-resistant, fade-resistant, and durable.

Marine upholsterers can help with both interior and exterior boat upholstery, including:

  • Couches, chairs, and so on
  • Covers for various applications
  • Sundeck cushions
  • Built-in settees
  • Marine mattresses
  • Blinds and curtains

Contact a marine upholsterer whenever your yacht or boat is in need of upholstery services.