How best to repair a rip in the cushion support of an Ikea POÄNG chair?
June 22, 2022 9:45 PM   Subscribe

I have an Ikea POÄNG chair that has a rip in the square piece of polypropylene fabric that supports the bottom cushion. I would like to fix it both cheaply and securely.

(You can see images of the part and of the rip here.)

As it supports the "seat" of the chair, I want any repair to be secure as it supports the bulk of the weight of the person sitting.

The weave of the fabric mesh looks similar to burlap/loose canvas but is made from 100% polypropylene. Before I knew it was polypropylene, I thought I might be able to use a couple of those old iron-on-denim patches for jeans, but now I think that any sort of such heat would just melt the polypropylene.

I have talked to Ikea, but this polypropylene mesh piece is not one of the replaceable parts they offer.

If I replace the fabric with canvas or something, it would require removing the staples that afix the old mesh to the sides, and in putting in new staples, and I imagine they wouldn't hold nearly as strongly in the old holes, and that they no doubt use industrial-strength staplers in the Ikea factory anyway.

I've looked on Amazon for repair ideas, and so far it looks like maybe this TEAR-AID might work, or maybe if I cover both sides with several criss-crossing strips of cloth-backed gaffer tape (which I know is darned strong, but also kind of ugly—although it would be unseen under the cushion). Honestly, the gaffer tape idea sounds like the easiest, but would look ugly if seen without the cushion.

The only other idea I had was if I took two square pieces of canvas, each large enough to cover the non-wood-backed part of the mesh, slather one side of each piece with some sort of industrial adhesive, and then sandwich the polypropylene mesh, tear and all, between them—hoping that the adhesive would both hold the canvas to each side, as well as permeating through the mesh and creating a bond like a grilled cheese sandwich... (this way sounds more expensive and iffy)

Or I could get rid of the mesh completely, drill a bunch of evenly-spaced holes in the plywood edge pieces, and weave a grid of rope similar to this (but with the holes going through the (ply)wood vertically, not horizontally as with the stool in this picture). Although that would be most-likely affecting the strength of the chair since I would be putting a couple of dozen holes in the plywood structure...

Has anyong done a similar repair before?
Any ideas?
posted by blueberry to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Measure it, including some slack, and get a belt, or n belts, and add that support. I don't think tape will do much. Tear Aid looks great for fixing a sleeping bag, but this damage is because the seat is not strong enough for the weight it's holding.

Using nylon or jute webbing to weave a stronger support would be even better. You have to join the ends of the webbing, so jute could be tied. Belts have buckles. There are some cams and buckles that might work.

You may have seen plastic strapping on packages; it's sealed with either a device or metal pieces that are clamped. You could weave a new seat support.
posted by theora55 at 10:18 PM on June 22

Hey hey, blueberry, if you end up opting to replace the mesh completely, first know that the staples aren't holding any real weight -- they're mostly just stabilizing that mesh fabric. Those horizontal pieces of wood along the front and the rear of the seat are what's actually supporting the seat fabric and the bulk of the weight, so drilling and weaving may actually weaken your frame. You know how a canvas director's chair seat stretches between and is supported by the two arm sides of the frame? The poang seat stretches between and is supported by the front and back pieces of the frame. Same concept, though.

If you check out this video starting around 1:05, you can see what the poang seat piece looks like disassembled. Each side of the mesh has a pocket that slides over the front and rear parts of the wooden frame during assembly. That's what supports the seat.

If you have access to a sewing machine: I'd either get some new canvas or webbing (I have some heavy canvas dropcloth at home, and I'd probably just try that), disassemble the seat, remove and unstaple the ripped seat and use it as a pattern to sew an identical replacement seat complete with those pockets, then reassemble the seat pieces, staple or tack those two strips where it was previously stapled (for stability), and reassemble the whole chair.

It's late and I don't know if any of this made sense, but memail me if I can, like, draw something for you to explain.
posted by mochapickle at 10:27 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]

Best would definitely be to replace the entire piece of fabric. You'll need to sew the front and back sleeves and then staple it on to the sides. Those staples are nothing special and you could definitely replace them with a staple gun. They don't need to go in the same holes. If you don't have a staple gun, I think small upholstery tacks that you drive in with a hammer would also work.

If you don't want to do that, you could weave webbing over the whole area to replace the fabric, but that would also ideally be sewn to make loops (glue is an option too). Cord in a grid through drilled holes would work too, but I would use something fine like parachute cord so you can just drill very small holes. Staggering the holes across the width of the wood would help avoid creating a weak point in the plywood.

Gaffer tape will not hold — it's made to be removed easily. Tear aid might work, if you use a lot of it. If I wanted to go the tape route, I'd consider a sail repair tape intended for sailboats for the most strength, but even that might not be enough. I'd probably do a little hand sewing first to hold the rip together and then apply tape on top of that.

Gluing on a piece of canvas would probably work as long as you use a flexible fabric glue. It would probably make more sense to use glue and sew the layers of fabric together, but that would be more work than just replacing the whole thing.
posted by ssg at 11:04 PM on June 22

A down-and-dirty quick solution would be a 3” wide roll of polypropylene webbing, the kind they use in outdoor garden furniture, and wrap it over the seat, front to back, over the original seat. One continuous wrap, anchoring the end with brads/tacks/staples and gradually working your way across the width. Maybe roll each end in a strip of cardboard before tacking it down for more strength and occasionally tacking a loop in place.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:17 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Buy a repair kit for trampolines and use that.
posted by mhoye at 4:19 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]

I would be very hesitant to disassemble and completely redo the thing. I've got a lot of IKEA furniture, including some Poang chairs, and they just don't like to be taken apart or reassembled.

So for cheap and durable, I'd use nymo thread and a patch in a like material, and patch it up in place (by hand) like a crotch hole on a busted pair of jeans. If you do it right, you'd probably be able to stand directly on it without issue.

I generally measure household projects in how much TV I have on while doing it. I am NOT even remotely a practiced sewer and I expect this project would take me 4 episodes of SVU.
posted by phunniemee at 5:28 AM on June 23

Here's a video on how they fixed it. It may take a while as there were a LOT of heavy duty stapes.
posted by kschang at 7:23 AM on June 23

I'd try putting a new piece of fabric over top with small upholstery tacks. The flat headed kind - not the decorative ones. Cut it all oversized enough to iron a folded edge and then start at the centre of each side, pulling it tight. Looks like you could get away with just doing the sides. To drive the tacks fully home, you'll want to position the nailing spot over the corner of a sturdy bench or something to act as a supporting anvil. See if you can lightly tack everything first. Keep about an inch space between tacks, use small ones and don’t nail too close to the edge.
posted by brachiopod at 7:51 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]

I have used outdoor polypropylene webbing and a standard home sewing machine to make a new sling (I think it's called? the back and bottom that hold a cushion) for a lawn swing re-do project (which turned out amazingly, if I do say so myself; I couldn't find any guides to do this online so I had to make it up as I went along) and that stuff is STRONG - I made an educated guess at what I should use for my project and it turned out to be an excellent choice. Two years later, it's still living outdoors year round (in Greater Vancouver) and holding multiple people's weight and there's no sign of stretching or sagging.

I would recommend taking apart the Poang and using the old piece to measure and sew a new sling (again, not sure if that's the word!) out of polypropylene that slides on the frame and I think that will more than do the job. Just ask for advice at the fabric shop of what type of thread you should use with that type of fabric and purpose and you'll be in business.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:31 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

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