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How to Determine Whether You Should Reupholster or Buy New Furniture

How to Determine Whether You Should Reupholster or Buy New Furniture

If you have an old, worn-out sofa, chair or bench in your possession, chances are you have considered having it reupholstered. But, is reupholstery always the best choice? Here are some points to consider before making your decision.

First, consider the age of the piece you are considering for reupholstery. Is it an antique? Is it a newer piece? Often, it pays to have an antique or older piece of furniture reupholstered, as they are often hard to replace. If your piece has sentimental value, such as grandma’s antique rocking chair, reupholstery is less a question of money, and more a must-do project.Upholstered chair and ottoman

Consider, also, the quality of your piece. Since reupholstery is not an inexpensive project, it doesn’t often make sense to spend the money on a piece that could be replaced with a new one at a lower cost. For example, in my professional experience, it costs around $2,000 to reupholster an average sofa. This includes fabric and labor costs. Although the prices will vary based on your location, fabric choice, and whether you can do the reupholstery yourself, it clearly doesn’t make sense to spend that amount of money on a sofa that only cost $500 to start with.

If you don’t know the cost of your piece, you can look at a few different things to determine its value. First, check whether the piece has springs or not. The best upholstered furniture has hand-tied springs beneath the seat cushions, while lower-quality furniture uses sinuous springs to support the cushion (see my previous article on this topic). Second, lift one end of the piece (if you are able to do so safely) and feel how heavy it is. The heavier the furniture, the more solidly constructed the frame is. Finally, consider whether your piece has been reupholstered in the past. If it has, chances are good that it has lasted many years already, and may be worth investing in again.

Here is the exception to the “cost” rule. If you have a piece of furniture that you love, and it fits in the room just perfectly, it may be worth reupholstering it regardless of cost. Sometimes, finding just the right piece of furniture for your room is a difficult task. Keeping it once you have it, especially in tricky spaces, may well be worth the cost of reupholstery.

Tips for Success:

  • When you price out a reupholstery project, don’t forget to determine whether your existing cushions can be saved. If they are saggy or worn, have the upholsterer price out new foam for your furniture piece; it will be worth the cost, as the cushions are the first things to wear out on a piece of furniture. Reupholstering old foam in questionable condition isn’t a wise use of your design dollars.
  • Be sure to select a fabric that will hold up to the wear you expect your piece to see. If it will be a highly used sofa, for example, you may need a more durable fabric than you would need on an antique chair that is rarely used.
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2 Responses to How to Determine Whether You Should Reupholster or Buy New Furniture

  1. Jon says:

    When dealing with sentimental pieces, I completely agree that reupholstering is the correct route to take. Breathing new life into a precious or personal piece of furniture can be a very rewarding experience.

  2. Having a rowdy dog is tough when you have an upholstered couch at home. It’s great that you mentioned that I should take into account the age of my furniture when considering if I should reupholster or replace it. The couch that my dog damaged was bought two years ago so I think it’s still relatively new.

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