Sunday, March 20, 2011

Don't Let La-Z-Boy Re-Pad Your Chair

My spring break project this week has been redoing the padding on my easy chair. I've got a great big La-Z-Boy that I bought about 10 years ago. The padding on the seat and the lower back needed to be refreshed and the time off from teaching this week gave me a chance to do it.

This Time, I'll Do It

Normally, upholstering is not something I look to do as a pastime. But, some time ago, I made the mistake of taking it to the La-Z-Boy factory to get the job done. The chair is one with ten massage motors built in. I often get tears in my back muscles, those motors are really important to me. When the chair went in to the La-Z-Boy shop, all ten motors were working fine.

When it came out, only two at the top of the back worked, the two most useless motors (from my perspective) in the chair. None of the others functioned. Needless to say I was pretty upset. La-Z-Boy not only couldn't account for the problem, but refused to do anything about it. It wasn't part of the service, apparently, to make sure your chair wasn't damaged in the course of repadding.

Not only that, but the new padding job was pretty lousy. It was only a couple of weeks before the seat was mashing in again. Plus, everywhere they had lifted up the upholstery there were now lots of sharp little staple heads. Before the heads had either been placed better, or hadn't protruded from the fabric.

I've been getting along with a small pillow and a scrap of moving pad to make up the difference until I had a chance to spend the time to fix it myself. Now I can see what La-Z-Boy really did for me.

When they opened up the seat to put in the new padding, they cut and tore the cabling to the motors. What they didn't get with a knife in the first pass, they just tore by yanking. Real sweet. Next time I want this sort of service, I'll put my chair in the driveway with a "Please Vandalize" sign on it. The same was done inside the back, somehow they missed two of the cables.

The new padding was just as good. A folded over piece of cheesy, low density "egg crate" style foam was shoved into the seat and the back. None of the old crushed-down foam was removed. Needless to say, no accommodation was made for the wiring.

For some reason they opened up the upholstery on the sides of the chair as well. I have no idea what they were up to there. Pushing out the sides to make the whole chair look more puffy? I have no idea.

So if you've got some La-Z-Boy furniture, do yourself a favor. Don't take it back to their factory for work. It's a rip-off. Chances are you can find a small upholstering business nearby that you can hold accountable for the work, so even if they mess up your furniture, you'll have some recourse.

Rolling My Own

I've finished the seat now, and repaired all the wires to the motors. Fortunately, only the wiring was damaged. It took me most of an evening to go through, test each motor, and get it hooked back up to the correct position on the motor controller.

For the padding, I removed the crappy eggshell stuff (it was dirty looking, and even though it was shoved in under all the other padding that was in the seat, it smelled pretty bad, like hydraulic fluid.) I cleaned up the padding that was worth re-using from the original stuff, put in some new stuff where necessary. I added a layer of the fiber material that lets the fabric breathe just under the fabric.

Last night I got the seat back in, it feels much better. Sewing things back up was a bit of a chore, but the results are worth it.

The back is still waiting for me to repair its motors and update the padding, but it'll be a lot easier to work with.

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