Should I reupholster an old sofa?

Have you ever asked yourself if you should reupholster an old sofa or buy something new?

If you’ve ever furnished a house or an apartment, it’s highly likely you’ve asked yourself this question. While you are saving this furniture from potentially going to a landfill, know that if you decide to reupholster an old sofa it could end up costing more than you would pay for a new one. You will need to make sure that it has a sturdy frame and good lines to be considered worth reupholstering. You will also need to consider how much new fabric you’ll need and how much the fabric will cost before making the decision. Then there is also the cost of labor, which varies from shop to shop because there is no industry standard.

While there are certainly high-end exceptions, most experts agree that much of the furniture manufactured today isn’t well made and therefor is not worth the cost of reupholstering. However, reupholstering your sofa may be worth it ….keep reading to find out if yours is!

Reupholstering your sofa may be worth it if……

reupholster an old sofa

If it is a Family Heirloom:

If the sofa has been passed down from a previous generation and has special sentimental value, you may want to hold on to it. There are certain things that are irreplaceable, and you cannot put a monetary value on them.

reupholster an old sofa

If it is a Valuable Antique:

When you have a sofa that dates back over a century, and you have invested good money in it, reupholstering it may make sense. Since this is not something that can be replaced by something brand new, you are actually restoring an antique by having it reupholstered. However, we would only suggest doing so if you absolutely love the sofa!

reupholster an old sofa
This sofa would not be worth recovering.

If it has Good Bones:

It makes sense to reupholster an old sofa if your sofa is very high quality, and the cost of reupholstering it would be less than buying a new sofa of comparable quality. This is not very often the case as typically it is more than just the fabric that needs to be replaced.

reupholster an old sofa

If it Costs Less:

If it is a very good quality sofa, and the cost of reupholstering it comes out less than getting a sofa of comparable value, by all means go for it. You may want to get quotes from two or three different reupholsters for all fabric and parts, and then weigh it against what you would pay for a new sofa of the same quality. Remember, your designer can help with the selection and performance of fabrics as well as the recommendation of a quality upholsters company.

Why does reupholstering typically not save you money?

Reupholstering could involve replacing the padding and springs, mending the frame or re-staining any wood. As you can see a complete reupholstery job involves a lot of labor and replacement of material, and is more structural in nature. It’s going to be comparable to a new piece of furniture because you are essentially getting a new piece of furniture. It’s the same frame, but otherwise a new piece. Thus the saving are not as great as most think.

How can you tell if a sofa’s “bones” are strong?

reupholster an old sofa

Squeaking, wobbling and dead spots where the springs don’t spring (or you can feel springs through the padding) are all signs that a piece of furniture needs structural attention. Such things are frequently repairable.

Here are a few tests you can use to judge for yourself:

1. If you grip the sofa and shove its back from behind, does the frame resist firmly, or is it loose and does it shake back and forth?
2. If you lift the sofa by one of its feet leaving only the diagonal foot on the floor, does it stay together tightly or do different sections droop unevenly?
3. Does its feet touch the floor at the same time when you let it down slowly?
4. Does the sofa frame wobble?
5. Do you springs squeak? If so, your springs probably need tightening or replacing, which is something a good upholsterer would do for you anyhow.

How can I tell if my furniture is good quality?

reupholster an old sofa

The short answer: the older is better. Anything that is at least 15 to 20 years old was typically built better – besides If it was going to fall apart, it would have by now!

Coil springs and solid wood are also indications of something well-made. To check for coil springs, remove the seat cushions and press your hand down on the seat. If it feels like coil springs, it’s probably a decent piece and worth considering reupholstering.

If you can pick up a sofa super easily, it’s probably not good quality wood.

How much does it cost to have a sofa or chair reupholstered?

reupholster an old sofa

So many factors go into figuring out a price that it’s impossible for an upholsterer to provide an exact estimate without seeing a piece in person.

Some factors that determine price include: the size of the piece, its condition and the style. For example: How many seat cushions does it have? (More cushions cost more.) Is it a loose back or tight back? (A loose back will cost more.)

For a sofa, the starting price range for the upholsterly only runs between $700 to $1,200 (not including fabric); to have a dining chair seat re-covered, the starting range is $45 to $90, not including fabric.

How much fabric will I need?

The amount of fabric depends on the size and style of the furniture, whether the fabric chosen is a solid or a pattern (you’ll need more with a pattern), the number of cushions and pillows needed and any extras, such as adding a skirt.

Some upholsterers will let you e-mail a picture of your furniture and they will e-mail you back estimates for fabric yardage and the price of labor.

What are additional costs that might come up when having something reupholstered?

In addition to possible pickup and delivery charges: replacing cushions or pillows, repairing or rebuilding a frame, re-tying springs, and any extras, such as having a skirt made, replacing the legs, changing loose cushions to a tight back or adding tufting or nailheads.

If you are not working with a designer but are interested in doing so, click here to learn about our complimentary referral service.

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