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

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 and Armchair video 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 upholstery tools, hardware and fabric at Sailrite.com.

3 comments
  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!

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