A reupholstery job might seem like a lot of work, but it can give you a sense of creative accomplishment when you finish the job. After removing the fabric at the seams -- use the old pieces as the pattern for cutting out new ones -- the dust cover and cushion material, check the springs to see if they need replacement. If the springs appear bent or stretched out, replace them. Zigzag springs, also called sinuous or S-springs, are different from coil springs; they lay flat and are commonly found in more modern furniture.
Made from two-dimensional S-shaped heavy-duty wire, zigzag springs are known in the upholstery industry as "No-Sag" springs. Modern manufacturers have turned to using zigzag springs in upholstered furniture because they are inexpensive and easy to install. You can use zigzag springs in ottomans, sofas and chairs. But they work best in furniture pieces with shallow frames. Deep-framed antique upholstered furniture pieces are usually designed to use coil springs and webbing.
Sofas and Chairs
Fastened with clips and nails that do not sag, zigzag springs attach front to back to support the seat, and from top to bottom to form chair and sofa backs. You do need to tie the individual springs together from side to side about 1 1/2 inches beyond where they connect to secure them, but they do not require a tedious hand-tying job like coil springs do.
Firmness and Gauge
Zigzag springs can replace coil springs as long as you pay attention to thegauge of the wire and the firmness of the spring. You generally buy the springs needed in 10-foot sections, and cut them with wire cutters. Firm sinuous springs -- 8 or 9 gauge -- work best for seats and ottomans. Soft, or 11-gauge, sinuous springs are meant for chair and sofa backs. You need two clips to attach each spring to the frame, spaced roughly 2 inches apart.
The Gold Standard
Coil springs tied in eight directions and supported with webbing represent the gold standard when reupholstering. These springs create the most stability and durability in the seat because they distribute body weight more evenly than zigzag springs. These types of springs have an hourglass or cylindrical shape. Tying them together in eight different directions -- called the eight-way hand-tie -- ensures the support for the seat maintains the tension required.
The Reupholstery Rule
The general rule when doing a reupholstery job is to put the same items into the support area of the furniture that you took out. While you can substitute zigzag springs for coils, this may not give the couch or chair the same profile it had with the original springs. The arrangement of the springs, tying and webbing determine the muscles of the chair. If you don't complete this step correctly, your chair or couch may not have the shape you desire.
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