Need-to-Know Tips Before You Reupholster Furniture
A major furniture project, reupholstery involves stripping a piece down to its frame and then recovering it with new fabric. Before you put down the money, find out if your piece of furniture is worth working on, how to choose fabric, costs, and other important details.
Choosing Furniture to Reupholster
Sometimes it’s difficult to look beyond the ragged condition or outdated fabric to gauge a piece of furniture’s structure, but that’s exactly what you have to do. Generally, if the piece in question is made with quality materials and is in solid shape, it’s worth reupholstering. Here’s what to look for when making the decision:
- Check the bottom frame. You want it to be made of kiln-dried hardwood. Also, make sure the overall construction is stable and that the corner braces are strong and intact.
- If possible, find out if the furniture contains 8-way hand-tied springs. These represent prime comfort and support.
- Test the piece to rule out any wiggles or rocking during use. Check for any damage that is not easy to repair, such as cracked wood or warping.
- Inspect the piece for a known brand name. Having one would be a clue that the piece is well made and worthy of reupholstering.
Which Fabric is Best for Reupholstering?
Since upholstery fabric can be expensive, you want to be certain the fabric you choose will make you happy for a relatively long time. When it comes to how heavy of a material to choose, consider where and how the piece of furniture will be used. For example, furniture located in the bedroom won’t need a heavy-duty fabric, but living room furniture most likely will. If a furniture piece is purely decorative, then non-upholstery-weight fabric is appropriate.
To gauge how durable a fabric is, simply check the back of the fabric swatches for what’s known as a Weisenbeck rating or rub count. This rating is determined by how many rubs the fabric can handle before it is worn through. If the swatch doesn’t have that information, ask the manufacturer. The industry standard for upholstery fabrics is about 30,000.
If you’re having a difficult time deciding on fabric, consider taking a sample home and setting it against your existing furniture to see how it plays. Don’t be shy about asking to borrow a bolt or large sample to cover as much of the piece as possible. Take a few days to observe it in your home to see if you like it before making your decision. Understand that reupholstering a piece of furniture is a chance to completely update the item, rather than merely copying the look it had before. Try a different color, or even go from a solid to a pattern. If you’re looking for a really bold look, consider changing pattern scales.
Reupholstering furniture presents the opportunity to change more than just the fabric of the piece. You can also add or alter other details to create a more decorative look. One example is using cord or piping in a contrasting color to define the lines of a piece (especially striking on a more sculptural style).
The skirt is another way to change up a piece of furniture as you reupholster. You can add a skirt, remove it, or change the style of it. This is a great way to update older pieces with short skirts that give them a squatty appearance. Simply have an upholstery professional install a skirt higher up on the piece for a longer, more graceful look. Similarly, channeling or tufting can be added for a more vintage look, while removing it will modernize a piece.
Typical Costs for Reupholstering
The costs associated with reupholstering furniture varies according to region, fabric choice and the details of the project. Here are some basic estimates for the most popular types of furniture:
- Chair or Couch Cushions: $70-$200 each
- Armchair: $300-$1,000
- Dining Room Chair: $150-$600
- Couch: $600-$1,800
- Large Sectional Sofa: $1,000-$4,000