Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
The couch is an essential piece of furniture. Apart from their functional and decorative purposes, couches bring families and friends closer together. Whether it’s movie night, or even if it’s time alone curled up watching Netflix after a long day at the office, your couch has been the backdrop of many special memories.
Your couch may squeak because it’s either still new and settling or because it’s old and becoming weak. Your couch may have loose parts or need some lubrication. Couches may also squeak due to rough handling over their shelf life. You can fix it by inspecting it for damage and tightening bolts and screws or lubricating the joints.
So what can you do about it? Before you misdiagnose your couch based on the squeak, take a moment to get acquainted with the reasons why it squeaks, and how to solve them.
Causes of the Squeaking
With so many components of different textures fitted together, is it still any wonder your couch squeaks? Squeaky or creaky couches are not usually indicators of a couch needing repair. As long as it’s not too loud a squeak, it’s only the sound made by the different parts coming together when bearing the weight of its occupant.
If your couch is fresh out of its plastic covers and it squeaks, this doesn’t mean you’ve made a bad deal. Squeaking is normal and is to be expected in a new couch. The new material hasn’t been stretched yet.
But with regular use, the squeaking and creaking should get less as the fibers of the covers, and the tension in the suspension system relaxes enough to cause a reduction of the noises your couch makes when in use.
If your couch seems noisier than before and it’s been around for over a few years, it might be that your couch is aging. A couch lasts an average of seven to 15 years with some proper maintenance.
As it ages, the material naturally starts to break down, decreasing its resilience against the weight it constantly has to bear. The wood around bolts and screws might begin to splinter, and the metal components might be out of lubrication.
Owing to the constant weight and pressure being applied to the material and parts of a couch, it shouldn’t be surprising that at some point, something gives. Sometimes the threads of bolts become loose. As mentioned above, the splintering of the wooden frame may cause screws and bolts to be loosened up.
As your couch ages, the oils applied to its metal components start to dry up. The weight and pressure take a toll on poorly oiled metal components that will squeak in protest when the couch is occupied. The oils around the metal components provide lubrication and protect the hardware from rust and break down, which happens when metal is exposed to humidity.
If you have kids in the home and they are constantly jumping up and down on your couch, then it’s little wonder that your couch is squeaking in protest. Couches weren’t intended for rough play. Being rough on the couch will speed up the material’s wear and tear. The life expectancy of a couch is greatly affected by how it is used or abused.
Pets can be another damaging force to couches. As much as we love our four-legged friends, they just don’t understand that furniture is expensive and needs to be taken care of and treated gently. That is especially true of larger dogs, as they’re heavy and often take flying leaps to land on the couch. Their nails don’t do the upholstery any favors, either.
Leather couches tend to be squeakier compared to fabric couches. The texture of the leather and how it rubs on other materials produces its own squeaks that may enhance the squeaking of the hardware interior. Even small movements tend to produce a squeak in most leather couches.
Furthermore, if you have a plastic couch cover on your couch, that could be your culprit right there. Although plastic couch covers fell out of fashion sometime in the 70s or 80s, some people still use them to protect their couches. If the squeak you’re hearing has a very plasticky sound to it, it could be the couch cover instead of the couch itself.
How To Fix a Squeaky Couch
Some problems causing the squeaking and creaking noises made by your couch require simple fixes that won’t cost an arm and a leg. You’ll need a few household supplies and perhaps an assistant if you have a bulky couch. Here’s a step-by-step process for how to silence the squeaks:
1. Conduct an Inspection
The first order of business is to take a look under the hood, so to say. You might need an extra pair of hands to achieve this, but the first step is to turn your couch over to expose its underside. If your couch has a dust cover, you will need to detach it. If there’s any dust or cobwebs, you’ll need to get that out of the way too.
Once you’ve cleared the space of dust and webs, lean in for a closer look and inspect the interior; paying attention to bolts, screws, corners, and cushions. Specifically, you should be checking for loose bolts, screws, or detached springs.
In rare cases, there may even be loose boards and panels inside the couch. Keep an eye out for those, as well.
2. Tighten Bolts and Screws
Once you’ve identified the loose parts, check for the splintering of wood around the screws and bolts. Splintered wooden frames may need to be reinforced, requiring some skill. However, if loose screws and bolts are the problem, this might be something you could fix for yourself.
All you have to do is tighten them. If the bolt threads are loose, you can replace them with new ones of the same size and fit.
As time passes, the oil that’s layered on after assembly of the couch dries up. As it does, more friction is created between the suspension system, giving rise to more squeaking. You’d need to oil the metal parts to reduce the squeaking. You may need to repeat this process every few months to add longevity to your couch.
Your couch may not be completely squeak-free after this, but if any loose parts have been tightened and lubrication is applied where needed, the squeaking should be satisfactorily reduced. You may need to re-staple the dust cover before restoring the couch to its upright position.
When It’s Time to Toss Your Couch
On average, a couch typically lasts seven to 15 years–unless you have a pet or especially unruly children. Some couches are harder to let go of than others. Some couch-owners with a sentimental attachment to their couch have it re-upholstered to make it as good as new.
But there’s a point where restoring a couch is impractical due to the extent of wear and tear and the cost of repairs, which averages $50 to $70 per yard with average fabric. There are also the labor rates to consider, which are somewhere between $40 to $100 per hour. If that isn’t the deal-breaker, this might be: re-upholstering can take anywhere between five and 25 hours.
Five hours at the low end of the pay scale doesn’t sound so bad, but 25?! At $100 an hour, that gets very expensive very quickly.
Look out for the following to know when it’s time to get a new couch:
Sagging Has Set In
When your couch has started sagging to the extent where you need to huff and puff to get yourself off, chances are your couch is letting you know it’s time to let it go—the sagging results from the overstretching of the covering that has occurred over the years.
The degrading of the cushion material reduces its ability to recoil under your weight. If it starts to feel like you’re lying in a hammock instead of a couch, it’s time to move on.
Foam Has Degraded
Depending on the quality or type of foam, the cushion of your couch can start to degrade over time. You might notice the texture of the foam begins to feel grainy or lumpy. This is a sign that your couch is beyond help. To try and save it, you’ll need to have it reupholstered, which might actually cost you the same or more than the market value of your couch when you first bought it.
Major Cracks or Splintering
If the wooden frame of your couch starts to show splintering or major cracks that only seem to get bigger, it’s time to part ways with it. At this point, your couch is no longer safe to sit on. The cracks indicate that it can no longer bear any weight and will only deteriorate.
It doesn’t matter how much you love your couch; you don’t love it enough to potentially injure yourself if you happen to be sitting on it when it finally breaks in half and gives way. The risk just isn’t worth it.
Rusting of Metal Hardware
Most couches use stainless steel for their suspension system, but not all. Light rusting can be removed, but when the rusting is extensive, the chances are that the metal may no longer be as solid and will only get worse from there.
Once the metal has degraded, it may be time to shop for a new couch as repairs and replacing suspension costs are prohibitive.
Persistent Squeaking and Creaking
You’ve done your best maintenance and repairs on your couch, but it still makes the annoying sounds. If it’s not something you’re willing to live with, you can either sell your couch or toss it and replace it with a quieter one.
If your couch is older than seven years old, you are likely due for an upgrade anyway. You could always donate your couch to charity or sell it to someone on ebay.
Often, schools and afterschool programs will take old furniture for their classrooms, libraries, reading rooms, and more. If yours is squeaky but serviceable, this may be a good option for it.
An infestation of your couch may require the services of an exterminator. There’s also the high chance that your couch may altogether need to be discarded. Bed bugs, carpet beetles, dust mites, and fleas are the most common culprits in furniture infestation.
These disease-carrying bugs should be dealt with immediately, and this may call for your couch to be immediately discarded once the infestation has been detected.
Reupholstering Your Couch vs. Buying a New One
Having your couch reupholstered may end up costing you more than buying a new couch. It’s less stressful to just replace the old with the new, but there are circumstances where the couch’s overall value overrules the impracticality of keeping a couch. Here are instances where a complete restoration job is justified:
- The couch is a valuable antique. Some couches simply have a rich history that makes them irreplaceable. At this point, its being restored is treated as a form of art restoration. These couches are often kept as part of a collection instead of its conventional uses.
- It has a hardwood frame. Hardwood is a durable and pricey material. If the damage sustained by the couch is in the coverings, it may be worth it to reupholster to preserve the hardwood and the piece altogether.
Your couch, like your bed, should be somewhere you can feel relaxed and rested, not annoyed every time it lets out a squeak when you move. The good news is the squeak can be fixed. The bad news, though, is you’ll have to get on your hands and knees to diagnose the problem and figure out the proper solution if you’re not willing to enlist the services of a professional.
Remember, no couch can be totally squeak-free. As long as you can keep that squeak to a minimum, you can look forward to making more memories on your couch.
- Sofology: My Sofa Is Making Squeaks, Creaks, & Noise
- Hunker: How to Repair A Squeaky Couch
- Thrifty Fun: Fixing A Squeaky Couch
- Rest Easy Pest Control: Bugs On Furniture
- Home Stratosphere: The Many Parts of A Couch
- Home Advisor: How Much Does It Cost To Reupholster A Couch?
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