Is It Worth The Cost To Reupholster Old Furniture

Do you have a well-loved sofa or chair at home that’s showing its age? The challenge is deciding if you want to splurge and buy a new sofa or chair, or invest in the restoration of the old one – presuming internal damage is minimal. Indeed, choosing buying over reupholstering is not always a easy pick, and it often comes down to going with the most cost-effective way to make your room look like new again. 

We know that replace vs. reupholster is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Many factors contribute to calculating the price of a reupholstery project, so much so that the most accurate estimate can only be provided when the upholsterer sees a piece in person.

To help you decide we’re sharing a few pro and con factors for you to consider:

Sentimental Value

Are you very attached to that old sofa or chair? Perhaps it’s a beautiful 1930’s Art Deco creation. This particular piece may not only have sentimental value but is also a collectible. It was obviously a costly furnishing when new and you want to make sure that it is restored to a similar level of quality. In this case, budget most likely will not be the driving factor when considering reupholstery. More important factors may be that the sofa or chair is the perfect size to fit a specific space or that it’s so unique you’d be hard pressed to find a comparable replacement new. An important determinant is if the construction of the piece is in good order or can be readily repaired. Bear in mind that when reupholstering a quality piece of period furniture that it could cost nearly the same as buying a new item. The difference comes down to a no specific connection to a piece vs. the style, quality and sentimental value the piece has to you.

How Does It Feel?

Do your best to be objective as you ponder replace vs. reupholster. Unless you’re dealing with a valuable collectible you should first determine if your sofa or chair is sturdy. Dead spots (where the springs don’t ‘spring’ anymore or you’re able to feel the springs through the cushions), obvious breaks (an arm or the back), squeaking and wobbling are indicators that your furniture needs structural attention. Structural repairs, such as mending the frame, can be costly.

Assessing the Quality

While reupholstering is an eco-friendly option, it is not necessarily an inexpensive one. For example, the cost of about $150to reupholster a single sofa cushion may seem affordable – replacing the entire sofa for that same price is not likely. However, should the same sofa require structural repair and re-stuffing the price could climb to $1,000 and more. In this situation you’ll want to consider if it’seasier and less costly to simply purchase an entirely new couch.The following assessment questions are guidelines to consider:

  • How old is the furniture you want to replace or reupholster? A piece that is sturdy and has lasted for longer than 10 years is a good candidate to invest in the cost to extend its life.
  • How much do you like the piece? If you simply love the style and cannot find a similar piece in a store, reupholstering it may make sense.
  • Does it have a hardwood frame? High-quality furniture manufacturers use hardwood for the frame and attach the joints using dowels and glue or screws. Inexpensive furniture usually has staples holding together the joints..
  • What type of padding does the piece have? Sofas and chairs made with foam are usually not worth the cost of reupholstering. That said, replacing down-stuffed pillows and down-spring core cushions can be expensive, making reupholstering more costly.

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

The key elements affecting price are: the size of the piece, its condition and the style. Additional factors include: how many seat cushions does it have (more cushions cost more)? Is the back loose or tight back (a loose back will cost more)? Generally, the starting price range for a standard 6’ sofa is $700 to $900, not including fabric; a lounge chair  will run from $400 to $550, not including fabric; and reupholstering dining chair seats range from $55 to $110 each, not including fabric.

How much fabric will I need?

Your fabric need will depend 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.

The following yardage estimates are based on using 54″ wide fabric. If the repeat is large or there is a pattern that has to be centered, you may need more:

Sofas and Couches –three cushions with arms
6’ sofa = 10 yards
7’ sofa = 11 yards
8’ sofa = 13 yards
add an extra 2-3 yards for a ruffled skirt or tall backed sofa

6-7 yards

Chaise Lounges
7-9 yards

Wing chair = 5-7 yards a
Traditional chair with upholstered seat and back = 3 yards
Lounge/club chair = 5-6 yards

2-3 yards

Dining Chair Seats
3/4 yard of 54″ wide fabric is enough to re-cover 2 standard chair seats. 3 yards of fabric will be enough for eight chair seats. If the repeat is large or a pattern has to be centered, you may need more.

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