Sofas with armrests provide greater comfort by giving arms, shoulders, and upper body added support. Armrests can be added to many styles of sofas to upgrade comfort. With some simple carpentry skills and upholstery techniques, you can DIY this enhancement.
Assess Sofa Construction
Start by examining the sofa frame to see if it can structurally support armrests.
- Sturdy kiln-dried hardwood frames like oak can handle screws to attach armrests. Avoid particleboard.
- Check the height of the side panels to determine needed armrest length and width.
- Look for an exposed side or detachable cushions to access the frame for installation.
Create Hardwood Armrests
Construct simple hardwood armrests to mount onto the frame.
- Use strong wood like poplar or maple cut to size matching sofa height and depth.
- Sand edges smooth. Round front corners for comfort and safety.
- Apply wood glue and screw armrests securely into side panels. Pre-drill holes to prevent splitting.
- Use corner braces for added strength attaching armrests on particleboard sofas.
Pad and Upholster Armrests
Add padding for cushioning before upholstering armrests:
- Wrap high-density foam in batting and staple to bottom of armrests.
- Stretch durable fabric over batting, folding edges under. Staple tightly underneath.
- Use a staple gun to attach fabric to underside. Keep staples tight and evenly spaced.
- For curved armrests, cut darted fabric to conform to shape when stretched.
Blend Armrests with Sofa
To integrate the look, upholster using:
- Matching fabric as sofa for a cohesive look.
- Contrasting fabric that complements sofa color and patterns.
- Painted/stained armrests matching wood tones on sofa.
- Decorative details like nailhead trim or piping to tie elements together.
Choosing the Armrest Design
Consider the style of armrest that best suits your sofa:
- Straight armrests are simplest to DIY and blend with most sofas.
- Curved armrests match sofas with rounded frames but require more upholstery work.
- Rolled armrests add detail but need expert upholstering for clean finished look.
- Angled armrests have a more modern aesthetic.
- Square armrests pair well with straight lines and masculine sofas.
The armrest shape should complement the overall sofa style for a cohesive look.
Securing Armrests Properly
To ensure armrests stay firmly attached:
- Use long screws that penetrate deep into sofa framing.
- Pre-drill pilot holes to prevent splitting wood when attaching.
- Place screws no more than 6 inches apart for stability.
- Look for studs or cross-braces in frame to anchor screws into.
- Add corner braces or L-brackets on particleboard frames for added support.
Proper installation is key to armrests remaining securely functional for years.
Maintaining Armrests over Time
To keep armrests looking their best:
- Dust and vacuum armrests regularly as part of sofa cleaning.
- Spot clean upholstery promptly to prevent staining.
- Check attachments occasionally for loose screws or joints. Re-tighten if needed.
- Refasten loose upholstery staples that could snag clothing.
- Recover armrests when sofa is reupholstered to refresh the look.