3 Types of Upholstery Tack Strips & How to Use Them

Tack strips are the secret to clean, professional looking re-upholstery projects. They are used underneath the fabric to create crisp edges and to secure the fabric in place without visible staples. Sailrite stocks 3 types of tack strips and each with its own particular use. We’re going to show you when and how to use each one.

Cardboard Tack Strip

A cardboard tack strip is used to create a clean and crisp edge in your fabric when you are blind tacking the fabric in place. In other words, this tack strip is used for places on your piece where you can attach this strip via staples underneath the decorative fabric. This type of tack strip is typically used under the outside arm and along the top back of chairs. Cardboard Tack Strip is also used alongside piping to keep the piping from drooping. You can see Cardboard Tack Strip being used in our How to Reupholster an Armchair video.

1. Lay the fabric upside down and place the cardboard tack strip along the edge you want to make straight. Staple the tack strip into place.

3 Types of Upholstery Tack Strips & How to Use Them

2. Flip the fabric down over the tack strip.

3 Types of Upholstery Tack Strips & How to Use Them

3. Staple the opposite side of the fabric to the chair. (See that crisp line under the chair arm?)

3 Types of Upholstery Tack Strips & How to Use Them

To use cardboard tack strip with piping, push the tack strip up next to the piping cord and staple in place.

3 Types of Upholstery Tack Strips & How to Use Them

Upholstery Tack Strip

The upholstery tack strip creates a clean, straight edge on upholstery projects and tacks the fabric in place. There is no stapling needed when using this tack strip. This is perfect for areas where you need to secure the fabric but don’t want to have visible staples. In our How to Reupholster an Armchair you can see us use this tack strip along the sides of the chair back and on the chair sides.

1. Fold the fabric back along the edge of the chair and crease it. Place the tack strip next to the crease in the fabric. Poke the tacks through the fabric carefully.

3 Types of Upholstery Tack Strips & How to Use Them

2. Flip the fabric over, pulling the fabric taut. Using an upholstery hammer, hammer the tack strip into place.

3 Types of Upholstery Tack Strips & How to Use Them

Flexible Tack Strip

The flexible tack strip is used primarily in curved areas where the other types of tack strips won’t work but where a finished edge is required like on curved arms, outside wings and arched backs of chairs. This tack strip is stapled in place on your chair and then its teeth grip and hold the fabric in place. You can see this tack strip being installed in our How to Reupholster a Channel Back Chair video.

1. Staple the Flexible Tack Strip to the chair. Place one leg of a staple in every hole on the tack strip.

3 Types of Upholstery Tack Strips & How to Use Them

2. Tuck the fabric under so the teeth of the tack strip are gripping it.

3 Types of Upholstery Tack Strips & How to Use Them

3. Using a Rawhide Upholstery Mallet start to hammer down the top of the tack strip. Then trim out any excess fabric. Making sure the fabric is properly taut; hammer the tack strip all the way down.

3 Types of Upholstery Tack Strips & How to Use Them

We hope these tips will help you get clean, crisp edges on your next reupholstery project! Be sure to come back to the blog next week because we will be sharing an all new upholstery tutorial–you won’t want to miss it!

You can find each of these tack strips as well as other supplies at Sailrite.com.

  1. Donna said:

    How do you actual staple the tacking strip? It is very difficult to line up the stapler with the hole and not staple metal.

    • Nikki said:

      There’s a bit of a learning curve to this process. It takes a while to get the feel for it, but staple a few feet of tacking strip and you’ll get the hang of it!

  2. James said:

    Hi there, nice article. I’ve seen flexible tack strips with 5 and 3 teeth. Which is recommended?

    • Nikki said:

      Hi James,
      There isn’t a huge difference between the 5 and 3-tooth tack strips, other than that the flexible tack strips with three teeth bend around corners better than the 5 teeth profile which has a much larger base. we recommend the three teeth profile for better and smoother curves.

  3. Hayley said:

    Hi James
    I’m sure I saw something recently where someone had a strip of those finishing pins and every so often, one had a sharp end that he hammered to finish his piece off. I don’t think I dreamt it….:-/. Can you tell me what they are called please?

  4. beth collins said:

    Nice explanation. Could I use the metal tack strip with vinyl/naugahyde or is it best use with a woven fabric? Thanks!

    • Hello Beth,
      It is best to use it with a woven fabric, vinyl is generally too thick and does not crease as well.

  5. Ivette Garcia Trujillo said:

    This is a very helpful advice. Can you also in your experience suggest me which one is easy to use for beginners? Thanks

    • Hello Ivette,
      They are all very easy but if you do not have a staple gun then the Upholstery Tack Strip is the easiest.

  6. Hello! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

  7. Aw, this was a really good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a superb article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

  8. Thanks in support of sharing such a fastidious idea, post is good, thats why i have read it entirely

  9. Angela said:

    No, don’t fancy it. I’ve enough problems with the grip rods on the stairs!

  10. kay quinton said:

    Hi I am looking for strips of studs they have to be 5mm can you help me thanks kay

    • Do you have a picture of what you are looking for?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: