Upholstery at Sykes & Sons Pianos

The upholstery is something that is perhaps not afforded much thought, but it is very important to us. We wouldn’t be happy supplying stools or benches with old materials. We care about the products that we put into our customers' homes, and we want to ensure that all fabrics and fillings are hygienically clean, hypoallergenic and conform with all current fire safety regulations.

All of our secondhand stools and benches are reupholstered before being supplied with a piano, or sold individually.

We would like to show you one of our latest reconditioned piano benches, and exhibit the process of bringing a high quality bench like this back to standard.

This is a duet bench, with storage, made by the reputable manufacturer, John Austin. These benches are a popular choice for those wanting a well made product that can seat more than one person at the piano, and has a convenient place to store sheet music. As shown, the fabric is worn and aged. The seat was also uncomfortable to sit on for any long period of time due to an old and deteriorated filling.

Firstly, the top is removed from the bench. Secured with six screws, the seat is removable for the purpose of recovering.

Each staple is removed with a tack puller and upholstery pinches.

We would like to point out that we don’t just cover up the existing material with a new fabric.

The seat is properly reupholstered.

After the backing cloth (white) has been removed, we cut the side of the fabric to expose the filling.

As expected, the original foam has disintegrated and is manly dust. At this point, the dust extraction system is activated.

Breathing this fine dust could potentially be very harmful.

After all of the staples have been removed, the top fabric can be removed to expose the filling. The original filling is removed and disposed of.

This is the back of the original fabric after it had been removed from the seat base. The original fabric was disposed of, along with the blanket of dust.

The seat base is then inspected for any breaks, fractures and damage, and then cleaned. Sometimes we replace these bases, if they show signs of damage and we cannot guarantee optimal longevity. If they’re replaced, we use a high grade plywood of 12 millimeter thickness, depending on the size of the seat and the support offered from the frame. Less support, the thicker the wood used.

After ensuring the base is of a satisfactory standard, we apply a fast activating adhesive and apply the first layer of foam. The first layer is one inch thick and is tapered towards the edges down to about 3 millimetres. It is tapered to achieve the traditional “crown”, so the foam is thicker in the middle and gradually decreases in thickness towards the edges of the seat.

Adhesive is then applied to the top of that layer, and another layer of one inch foam is applied.

Another layer of foam - of one quarter inch thick - is applied over the second layer.

Before applying any fabric, a layer of dacron is added. It is the layer that sits between the foam and the fabric, which adds softness and reduces friction when applying the top cover, allowing it to glide easily over the foam. This tends to be the layer that most DIYers miss out!

The dacron also reduces “pinching”. This is when the fabric grips the foam, slowly pulling it apart, which eventually leads to... a dusty filling.

The seat is recovered in a high quality, stain resistant fabric. Much better than the original. Note the “crown”, where the cushion gradually tapers down towards the edges.

A new under-cloth is applied (black) and the seat is affixed back into place on the bench.

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