A burn hole can quickly ruin the appearance of a couch. Besides being unsightly, the hole could quickly become bigger if it is not repaired as the fabric around it may stretch.
Follow these 10 basic steps to fix a burn hole in a couch:
- Clean the couch
- Prepare the work area
- Trim any blackened edge
- Use a no-fray solution
- Find a repair patch
- Cut patch to size
- Check the fabric nap
- Insert patch
- Stitch or glue securely
- Flatten to dry
Fixing a small burn hole on your couch is easier than you think, and you may not need to get the entire couch reupholstered to repair it. You probably already have everything you need, so let’s get started to fix the burn hole on your sofa.
How to Fix a Burn Hole in the Couch
Burn holes on couches are usually small and are most often caused by cigarettes. However, a crusty-looking black-edged burnt hole in the surface of your couch, no matter how tiny, can make it look unattractive.
Couches are one of the more forgiving surfaces when it comes to repairs because they consist of more than one layer. So effecting a repair can be done by patching the surface damage with a piece of the same surface material, and it only needs to look good on the top.
Because couches are large surfaces, a neatly done small hole repair is unlikely to stand out. So you don’t have to be an upholstery expert to effectively fix a tiny spot, even if some of the surface fabric has burnt through.
Couches are made from different fabric types, so your method of fixing a burn hole needs to be based on the surface material. While you may consider stitching your repair patch in place if you have a woven fabric couch, you should never attempt it if your sofa is leather or suede.
Let’s go through the materials you will need to repair a burn hole on your couch:
- Fabric glue – take note, this is not the same as super glue or household glue. It is vital that you use an adhesive specifically designed to maintain flexibility, or you may end up with a bumpy, scratchy repair that will quickly pull loose.
- Small sharp scissors – You will need a small scissor that you will be able to maneuver carefully to make tiny snips. A regular nail scissor is usually not sharp enough at the tip to slice cleanly through thick couch fabric. You don’t want to accidentally pull on the damaged material to create a bigger hole.
- Tweezers – You will need these to grip and position the tiny piece of replacement fabric.
- A few toothpicks – These are to spread fabric glue around.
- A curved upholstery needle and thread that matches the color of the couch – this is only required if you have a woven type fabric on your couch where stitches will not be noticeable.
Once you have gathered these items, you are ready to start repairing the hole in the couch.
Step 1: Clean the Couch
Cleaning the entire couch is an essential first step when repairing a hole. Remember that you will be using a patch taken from a hidden part of the sofa, so it will stand out more if that bit is cleaner than the rest of the couch.
Thoroughly cleaning the couch will also make it smell and feel fresher. If it has a burn mark, it had pretty close contact with a cigarette or some other flame which may have left a burnt odor in the fabric.
Choose the correct cleaning method depending on the fabric of your couch.
Step 2: Prepare Your Workspace
Depending on where the burn hole of your couch is, you may need to find a way to sit at the right level so that you can see it and work with steady hands. It is similar to performing microsurgery on the low surface of your sofa, so if necessary, use a sturdy step stool as a seat, so you don’t have to bend over or kneel uncomfortably while working.
Another important factor is ensuring that there is enough light on the spot you are working on. Burn holes tend to be small, so work in a well-lit area.
Step 3: Carefully Trim the Blackened Edge of the Burn Hole
Burn marks, specifically those caused by cigarettes, usually have a tell-tale black rim around a missing center. In order to blend the replacement piece of fabric into the couch, all signs of the outer burn rim must be removed.
Using the sharp scissor, carefully snip away the black edges. Remove as little fabric as possible during this process and only remove visibly melted or discolored parts.
Once you are done, it is a good idea to vacuum the area where you have been snipping. Fibers caused by the cutting process may get stuck in the glue during the following steps, so keep the area completely free of debris.
Step 4: Apply a No-Fray Solution to the Edges
Although you can purchase a specific no-fray solution, you can also use a tiny bit of fabric glue to secure the edges. Use a toothpick to apply carefully to the very edge around the hole.
Be very careful not to apply too much no-fray solution to the damaged section. Although it is vital to secure the edges of the hole, it mustn’t create a shiny border on the top of the couch that will be noticeable.
Step 5: Find a Repair Patch
Now that you inspected the damage and cleaned the area, you will know exactly how big the hole is that needs to be covered. The search is now on to find a piece of couch fabric that can be used as a patch.
Hunt about and look for an excess piece of fabric that is not visible under normal conditions. Good places to look are underneath any skirting or behind the legs. Another good place to look is to remove the top cushions and look at the back behind the armrests.
Most couches are a uniform color, so any small piece that you can harvest will do. If your couch has a patterned design, you may need to be a little pickier about the piece you need to match the pattern detail.
The piece you remove should be slightly bigger than the hole you need to fix.
Step 6: Size and Shape the Repair Patch
Most burn holes that happen on couches are small and round. The piece of replacement fabric should be approximately ½ an inch larger than the size of the hole.
Use sharp scissors to trim the piece that will form the patch to the correct shape and size. The patch should be small enough not to form a noticeable ridge under the couch fabric where the hole is but large enough to be secured under the spot.
Step 7: Check the Nap of the Fabric
Before you either glue or stitch the patch in place, check the nap of the material. The nap refers to the textured grain or particular direction of a weave that some materials have.
You may have noticed that all the fibers of a suede material appear a slightly different color when brushed in a particular direction. It may not be something that you haven’t noticed about your couch before, but getting it right will make the tiny patch blend better into the overall final appearance.
When inserting the tiny replacement piece into the burn hole, ensure that the nap runs in the same direction as the material around it.
Step 8: Insert the Replacement Patch
Push the patch of replacement couch fabric into the hole. Use the tweezers to flatten it and position it so that all the sides are flat below the top layer of couch fabric.
Once it is flat, recheck the nap and twist the insert until it is in precisely the correct position.
Step 9: Stitch or Glue the Patch in Place
You can glue the piece in place using the fabric glue. Dip the tip of a toothpick in the glue and dab it between the couch fabric and the patch.
Ensure that you thoroughly coat the part of the patch that you need to adhere to the underside of the couch fabric around the burn hole. Be careful not to let it spread onto the visible top section of the patch.
The glue must be distributed all around the underside of the hole, so the patch remains securely in place. Take your time while pushing dabs of glue onto the edges of the patch so you don’t miss any spots.
If you have a material sofa with a woven texture, you may prefer to stitch the tiny patch in place. Use a curved upholstery needle, and be sure to match the thread with the color of the couch.
Pull the thread through the needle to double and make a knot. Then trim off any excess thread so that the knotted end is inconspicuous.
Before inserting the replacement patch, push the needle down through the hole and bring it up alongside the no-fray edge you created so the knot will be hidden under the patch. Then insert and position the fabric patch.
Stitch it in place using tiny crossover stitches. Your stitches must be small and follow the direction of the threads in the fabric. Direct stitches down around the sides of the holes and come up through the couch fabric behind the no-fray edge.
When you have stitched around the repair, make a double stitch and hide the end of the thread.
Step 10: Give the Repair Time to Dry
If you have used the gluing method, the repair must have enough time to dry before the couch is used again. The minimum recommended time for this is two hours, but it is better to leave it for at least 24 hours.
If the burn hole was on the flat seat section of the couch, place a large book on the repair to ensure the surface stays flat during the drying process.
It can be a little more challenging to keep it flat if the burn is on the back or the arm of the sofa. Drape a folded blanket or thick towel over the couch to prevent any lifting of the fabric if the repair was near the top.
How to Patch a Burn Hole in a Thickly Woven Couch
If you have a couch made from thick woven material, it might not be possible to add another layer of the same fabric under a hole because the surface would look visibly dented.
If you have a sofa like this, you will need to create a sub-patch and glue a tiny piece of your sofa fabric onto it. You can use any thin, strong material to make a sub-patch as it does not have to match your couch.
- Cut the sub-patch so that it is slightly larger than the burn hole.
- Insert the patch into the hole and flatten it out, so it is underneath the hole.
- Use a tweezer to ensure it is flat, and the edges are positioned evenly under the burn hole.
- Use a toothpick to apply fabric glue all around the hole under the existing couch fabric so that it adheres firmly to the sub-patch.
- Then take a piece of replacement fabric from an inconspicuous part of the couch.
- Snip a piece that will fit exactly into the hole. Take note of the fabric’s nap and ensure that the weaving is positioned to continue the flow of the weave pattern.
- Next, place a generous dab of fabric glue on top of the sub-patch you created and carefully position the couch fabric patch on top.
- Gently press around the edges of the top patch to ensure that no bits are sticking up.
- Place a book or another heavy object onto the repair to hold it in place until it is dry.
You can see how it is done here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlWdygORK5I
It is possible to effectively repair a burn hole on most couches by making a patch from an extra piece of fabric taken from a hidden section.
The patch should be cut to size and either stitched in or glued using an adhesive like fabric glue. Fixing a burn hole on a couch as quickly as possible will prevent the spot from stretching and becoming more prominent.