Wall upholstery 101.

Before I go into much details on traditional wall upholstery 101, I would like to mention the following. When it comes to wall upholstery, there is only two options. You either ask a professional to perform the installation or decide to do it yourself. I have read a few blogger posts’ on DIY upholstered walls and watch a few videos on this subject. However, something is missing in most of them. For instance, the lack of preparation by adding a small frame. A frame is created by a slat, a strip, or a track fix to the wall before the fabric is installed. It is fitting along the moldings.

The question is Can you stretch fabric on walls? Yes, you can. You need basic skills and a few tools. Not to mention, wall upholstery requires patience, precision and an amount of strength depending on the scale of the project. I am including a few links (words in blue) to help you.

Hiring an upholsterer

Given these points, some of you will decide to go to a professional. So, try getting as much information as you possible. In order to guide through THE process, I have written an article on this topic. Laying out questions you should ask before hiring an  installer. You can find it at How to choose a wall upholsterer?

An upholsterer should offer options like with or without decorative trimmings. Also, Do you know there are fitting methods other than stapling the fabric? We have research thoroughly for various products or good fitting system. Most tracks are for commercial use. They do have their limitations for residential application. Actually, there is only one which stands out. It is called CES or Clean Edge System. A revolutionary track for residential use as it works with all challenges found in homes.


For those who wish to install the fabric themselves, there is a simple method using a slat.  The fabric is stapled on it, trimmed then a flat braid or welt is added for hiding staples. The good news, this slat is really easy to use. Ready for wall upholstery 101?


Let see how to install a simple slat 

First and foremost, the fabric should not be stapled directly to the wall or the sheetrock but be fixed on some sort of support like a slat. For one thing, if the fabric needs removing away from the wall, you will be very upset with yourself for not having installed any slats.
Wait a minute. Do you really want to pull out all the staples one by one? Think about the time spent doing this. And you will damage so much the sheetrock, plaster everywhere…What a mess!  So what is the solution? You need to fix a frame where the fabric is stapled to it. It is a little more work but well invested as the walls will also look so much better. Most people take wooden strips which as a few inconveniences. What are they?

You will need to buy sheets of wood; ¼ inch plywood. Make strips of 1 to 1 ½ inch wide. Then when time comes to install, you will find that your hands are going to hurt and be damaged or bloody from splitters. The fabric needs to stay clean. Hello!  Finally during the fabric installation, you will have high chance to pull fabric threads from the wood. Note that wood brake too.

I am ruling out plywood. Simply replace wooded strips with another product called CWS or Contour Wall System.

It comes in strips ready to use. Each length is 96 inch long by ¼” thick. Contour wall system or CWS is a white PVC slat designed especially for wall upholstery. You will not get all problems mentioned above. Each box has 40 lengths, which makes 100 yards.

In a nutshell:

What you need to do is place and staple it around the room using ¾ inch staples or brad nails. It is easy to cut CWS  (Contour Wall System) with sharp track cutter. You will be able to make small pieces without problem, even cut at 45 degree angle. After installing the slat around the perimeter of the room, around doors and windows, add a layer of padding. Cut the padding just before the slat so they are both at the same level. Proceed with the fabric installation by stapling the fabric on the white slat. Trim the excess fabric, then add the desire decorative fabric trimmings.
If you choose to add brass or nickel nails instead, it will just fine. Any size works. If a nail is not at the correct place, pull it out and reposition. Contour wall system does not split open, which is a great bonus.

At the top of the page, you have a slider with images. It is a mock up, like a small wall panel. I am including details just below.

Find the wall upholstery 101 step by step.

Step one

Remove all furniture from the walls. If the room is empty it is even better. Measure each wall; width and height. Disregard the windows. Remember that most fabrics are 54″ or 48″.
Lets say that a wall is 130″wide, you will need 3 widths of fabric for 54″ wide (3 x 54″= 162″). For a 48″ fabric, count also 3 widths (3 x 48″=144″) And so one with the other 3 walls.

If your wall is 98″ tall, add 5 inch extra to each drop of fabric (103″). This means, you have 3 widths x 103″ = 339″ convert in yard after you have added the other walls. Go shopping for fabric and have fun. You may want to add an extra width as a security. You never know what could happen.

Step two

Get a compressor, a staple gun or brad nailer. Staples or brad nails ¾” long

  •  Get a ladder, scissor, a pencil, a tape measure.
  •  Buy some tracks Contour wall system, a track cutter
  •   Purchase some padding ¼ to ½” thick
  •  Find the rigth fabric
  •  Sewing machine to seam up the width of fabric.  Here is an option with no sewing involved.Try CES or Clean edge system. I am going to publish another article about this option next week.

Step three Picture 1

Take a length of Contour wall system (CWS) and a staple gun, start by the ceiling at the top right or left corner.
Place the slat against the ceiling or crown molding and use your stapler or brad nailer. Fix the CWS. Take another length to reach the other corner. .

Step four Picture 2

Do the same at the base of your walls; baseboard or chair rail.

Step five Picture 3-4-5-6

Do the vertical strips at the 4 corners. At each step: measure, mark your slat, cut and attach the CWS with brad nails to the other corner. Repeat all around the room. Don’t forget to put strips by the window and door. Fit them against the moldings.

Step five Picture 7-8

Get your padding. Place it just below the track at the top and use your staple gun. Trim to the each if to long.

Step six Picture 9

TOP. Make sure the fabric is stretch at the top. Place fabric over the wall with a little extra all around. (Leave more extra cloth at the base to bottom) Start at the top center with one staple. Hold and stretch very slightly from center to the right, staples on the CWS until you reach the corner. Repeat from the center left to the other corner.

BOTTOM. Go to the bottom.  Let the fabric hang naturally and stretch it vertically, staple in the center. Work to the right and to the left. Make sure keep straight.

SIDES. For the sides, pull slightly the cloth and put one staple at the center right and one the left side. Look back to see it is all leveled. Start stapling the sides. Trim the excess fabric all around.

Step seven

Finally, apply the decorative trimmings of your choice. This operation will hide all staples.

wall upholstery 101
Large fabric panels covering the entire back wall behind the bed

Have you looked at the link as where to get your tracks?


Enjoy making your room. Drop me a line if you have any question on the subject. I believe you have now all elements for installing a track for wall upholstery 101.

One Response

  1. […] advantages. All instructions are just below. Please note that I wrote a previous article called Wall upholstery 101. It presents a fabric installation slightly different from this one, as it requires gluing […]

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