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RVs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Whether your RV is a fifth wheel, a travel trailer, a Class A bus, or a Class C motorhome, one thing they are all likely to have in common is the jackknife sofa. Jackknife sofas are a popular solution because they can double as both a sofa and a bed without the heavy hardware of a pull-out sofa bed. Their space-saving design has made them a standard fixture in the modern RV living area.
Let’s face it, though. The living area in an RV takes a lot of abuse. Protecting the sofa from dirt and wear can extend its life and keep it looking great for many years. Maybe your sofa is already showing the effects of RV life, and you’re looking to freshen up its appearance and protect it from further damage.
Either way, you’re probably looking for great ideas for jackknife sofa covers. There are plenty of different ways to cover a jackknife sofa, and the only real limit is your imagination (and maybe your budget)! Let me help you start brainstorming the best solution for you!
Why Cover Your Jackknife Sofa?
Your RV’s jackknife sofa endures a lot. It is very practical and useful – so it gets used a lot. There are three main reasons why RV owners want to cover their jackknife sofas.
If your sofa is in good condition, you want to keep it that way. Covering it will protect the original upholstery from dirt, spills, and ordinary wear and tear. Covers are easier to clean and cheaper to replace as needed. Protecting the sofa well may also help increase the resale value of your rig down the road.
If your sofa has already been stained or has started to become threadbare around the edges of the cushions, covering it will improve its appearance and help prevent any further damage. Once you have a small hole or threadbare patch, regular use can cause it to grow quickly. Covering your jackknife sofa can definitely prolong its life.
I think we can all agree that the standard RV interior design has a certain “neutral hotel room” kind of ambiance. One way to personalize your decor and make it feel more like home is to cover the sofa with your preferred color, pattern, or texture.
The layout and size restrictions of most RVs mean that the sofa is likely a focal point in your living space. Updating its appearance can change the whole character of the room.
Factors to Consider When Covering Your Jackknife Sofa
Your reasons for wanting to cover your sofa will likely influence your choice of cover. If your motivation is mostly aesthetic, your priorities will be different than someone who just wants a simple solution to protect the upholstery. There are a number of other factors to consider as you decide which idea works best for you.
Not all fabrics will hold up well to the wear and tear of RV use. Synthetic fabrics, especially polyester, are usually very durable and also stain-resistant. Microfiber, which is made from polyester, is gaining popularity for covering furniture. If you prefer natural fibers, cotton can be durable if it is a heavy weave such as denim or sailcloth.
It might go without saying that you want your couch to be comfortable, but it’s worth mentioning since many of the most durable fabrics can be less than comfortable. Avoid rough or scratchy textures and consider choosing a fabric that breathes well, especially if you use your RV to travel in warmer climates.
How easy is the cover to use? Can it easily be removed, cleaned, and replaced, or does it require a lot of time and energy to take it off and put it on? Is the cover machine washable, or will you be spot treating it by hand?
Can it be dried in a dryer, or will you need to find a place to hang dry something large and potentially oddly shaped? Can it be used when the sofa is converted to a bed, or will you need to remove it to fold the sofa flat into a bed?
Are you willing to sacrifice some functionality for the right look, or do the practical considerations weigh more heavily in your decision? Is the type of cover you’re considering available in fabrics, colors, or patterns that appeal to you?
Would you prefer for your cover to fit in such a way that it isn’t obvious that it’s a cover? If your jackknife sofa has arms, it may be more challenging to find a good fit than it would be for an armless sofa. Do you want to be able to change your cover often to match your mood or perhaps seasonal decor?
If your rig is a Class A or Class C motorhome, you probably have seat belts built into your jackknife sofa. If you use these seat belts regularly, then a sofa cover that blocks access to them may not be a great choice for you.
In order to cover your sofa and still be able to use the seat belts, you will need to look for an RV-specific cover or make custom adaptations to any other type of cover.
Unfortunately, your budget has to be a factor in most decisions. Different types of solutions carry a wide range of price tags, so the ideal solution has to be one that you can afford.
Some people would rather spend as little as possible and put the extra money toward their next RV adventure. Others are willing to spend whatever it takes to get just the right cozy feel in their rig. Most RVers will land somewhere in between.
Types of Jackknife Sofa Covers to Consider for Your RV
General Sofa Cover (Partial Coverage)
Partial coverage sofa covers are easy to find from camping outfitters and many online retailers. These covers only protect the areas that are most prone to dirt and wear, such as seat cushions, armrests, and backrests, while other areas of your sofa’s original upholstery are visible.
They can be very simple, often found in solid neutral colors, but they can also be decorative. Decorative covers might resemble a quilt or have reversible patterns.
These covers are usually durable and provide waterproof protection. They are quick and easy to put on and can typically be machine washed and dried. Measure your sofa to determine which size cover would fit best. Partial coverage sofa covers can be a very affordable solution, but be aware that RV-specific covers with reclosable seat belt access openings cost considerably more.
- Partial coverage sofa cover without seat belt openings.
- Partial coverage sofa cover with seat belt openings.
A futon cover works especially well on jackknife sofas without armrests since these are very similar to futon mattresses. Futon covers are easy to find, inexpensive, and come in a variety of colors, patterns, and fabrics. This versatility enables you to have several and change your sofa decor frequently if you wish to. Futon covers will fully cover the cushions of the sofa and are typically zipper closed.
The durability and comfort of futon covers can vary based on the fabric you choose, but generally, they protect well from dirt and wear and come in soft fabrics such as cotton, microfiber, or microsuede. Double check the dimensions of the cover you choose and compare them to the dimensions of your couch.
Remember thickness in addition to length and width. To be sure of a good fit, many RVers choose a stretchable futon cover that works even if the dimensions aren’t quite right. Futon covers are machine washable, but are not available with seat belt access for motorhomes.
Stretch-to-fit slipcovers offer many of the same advantages as futon covers. They provide full coverage but can usually accommodate armrests and other irregular shapes much better than a futon cover. These covers are also available in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and fabrics. They are machine washable and easy to set up.
Extra items such as tuck grips and foam rods can make a big difference in keeping a stretch-to-fit cover in place and looking good with repeated sitting. Without these, you may find yourself needing to readjust the cover often. They will also need to be readjusted or even removed when using the sofa as a bed.
These slipcovers are relatively inexpensive, but they often don’t come with these extras, so be sure to include this in your cost estimate. Stretch-to-fit slipcovers are easy to find for a variety of standard sofa sizes, but they do not have access openings for seat belts.
Your jackknife sofa can be converted into a bed, so you may choose to cover it like one. A fitted sheet can be tucked around the cushions and used to protect them from dirt and wear. For most RV jackknife sofas, a queen-size fitted sheet is the closest size match, though the sheet will be slightly larger than needed, so some tucking or altering may improve the fit.
Fitted sheets are made of less durable fabric than slipcovers made for the purpose of protecting a sofa. They are also easier to machine wash and dry and less costly to replace on a regular basis. You can use sheets in conjunction with a mattress cover to get the added water resistance and other protections offered by standard slipcovers.
Look for higher thread counts for increased comfort and durability. Sheets are not made with openings for seat belts, but they are more easily altered to include them than multilayer sofa covers.
Sew Your Own
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you might prefer to sew your own cover for your RV’s jackknife sofa. Sewing your own gives you almost unlimited choices of fabric and design.
You can make sure it fits your exact specifications and add seat belt openings if needed. Choose the amount of coverage you prefer, add a waterproof layer if you want to, and add the fasteners of your choice. If you have the skills, the options are endless!
This option may lead to a lot of frustration for those who are not experienced at sewing projects of this size. The cost will vary based on fabric choice and other needed supplies such as thread and fasteners, but it is unlikely to be a cost-saving option. Don’t forget to consider the value of your time. You can probably make your own pattern by measuring your sofa’s dimensions and adding margins for seams, but irregular shapes such as armrests may present more of a challenge.
If sewing is not your thing, but you want all the advantages of a custom-made slipcover, you can hire someone to do it for you on Etsy.
This is clearly the most expensive option for covering your jackknife sofa since you are paying someone for their time and labor in creating your custom slipcover, as well as the costs of all of the materials. The advantage is that your cover will be what you’re looking for, without compromise, made by an experienced seamstress.
Compare RV Jackknife Sofa Cover Options
Looking at the options side-by-side can help you decide which is the best choice for you.
|Type of Cover||Durability||Comfort||Convenience||Appearance||Seat Belt Access||Cost|
|Partial-Coverage Sofa Cover||High||Medium||Very easy||Little variety||Yes||$20-$200|
|Fitted Sheets||Low||Medium||Easy||Little variety||No||$10-$30|
|Sew Your Own Cover||High||High||Difficult||Customized||Yes||$60+|
|Custom-Made Slipcover||High||High||Easy||Customized||Yes||$75 + materials|
Top Choices for RV Jackknife Sofa Covers
Best Budget Choice: Stretch-to-Fit Slipcovers
Stretch-to-fit slipcovers are a great choice for budget-conscious RVers. While the stretchiness of the fabric rules out some of the most durable upholstery fabrics, this small sacrifice in durability is more than made up for in the comfort level of the fabric.
They are not the easiest type of cover to set up on your sofa, but this is because of all of the adjustments that you can make to help the slipcover to stay in place well and look seamless on your sofa. Stretch-to-fit covers adapt well to armrests and other irregular shapes. It may not always be obvious that you are using a slipcover!
There are a wide variety of colors and designs available, and it is easy to find a great choice on the lower end of the price spectrum. This relatively low-cost solution is the perfect compromise between all of the most important factors!
Best Choice: Custom-Made Slipcovers
If money is no object, then why compromise? If you have the skills and the time to make your own custom slipcover for your RV jackknife sofa, then that is a great choice. Otherwise, ordering a custom-made slipcover is also an excellent solution.
With a custom-made slipcover, you know that you will get just the right fit. You choose the fabric from the start, so decisions about durability, comfort, and appearance are all completely within your control.
If your rig is a motorhome, you can easily accommodate seat belts and fasten these openings closed however you prefer. A custom-made slipcover doesn’t just protect your sofa and prolong its life; it enhances the decor in your living space and personalizes the often drab and neutral interior of your RV.
Answer: Jackknife sofas in RVs vary considerably in size. When used as a bed, an average range is 68-78 inches long and 42-52 inches wide.
In the sofa position, the length is the same, but the width is approximately 32-35 inches. These sofas often need to be placed at least 2 feet from the wall, so factor this space into measurements when deciding how large of a sofa will fit in your existing space.
Answer: When folded flat into a bed, the dimensions of the average RV jackknife sofa (68-78 inches long and 42-52 inches wide) are smaller than a queen-size mattress (80 inches long and 60 inches wide).
Jackknife sofa beds at the smaller end of the range may be closer to the dimensions of a full-size mattress (75 inches long and 54 inches wide). Measure your sofa bed to be sure, but a queen-size sheet is guaranteed to fit with room to spare.
Answer: Probably! Futon cover sizes can vary, as can RV jackknife sofa sizes, so measure your sofa to be sure. Don’t forget to factor in the thickness of your sofa cushions, which may be thicker than the average futon mattress and affect how well the cover fits (and stays on!)
Answer: To increase the comfort of an RV jackknife sofa when used in the sofa position, consider a cover with a soft fabric and add some throw pillows for added back support. When using the jackknife sofa as a bed, try a simple mattress topper, such as a memory foam layer or an egg crate mattress pad, to improve sleeping comfort.