Learn When to Reupholster an Old Sofa

A studio apartment with an off-white sofa and ottoman with brown and yellow pillows and a yellow throw.
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There is no simple, easy yes or no answer to the question of when you should reupholster an old sofa because the answer depends on several factors.

These factors should be carefully considered in advance of committing to what can be an expensive undertaking.

While you are potentially saving this furniture from going to a landfill and opting for the more sustainable option, know that reupholstering an old sofa could end up costing more than you would pay for a new one.

Even after you have it reupholstered, it could still be uncomfortable. This is taking into account that you're only having it re-covered and are not planning to change its insides.

Going to such expense is generally only considered to be worthwhile under a few conditions.

If the Sofa is a Family Heirloom

If the sofa has been in your family for a while and has been a prized possession with history and 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.

If the Sofa is a Valuable Antique

When you have a sofa that dates back to more than a century, and you have invested good money in it, reupholstering it makes sense. This is not something that can be replaced by a brand-new sofa.

In this case, by reupholstering, you are restoring an antique. However, you should not be attempting the reupholstering on your own. Get a qualified professional to do it. It may be more costly, but it will be a worthwhile investment.

Vintage-retro sofas are currently very popular and, if you want to keep or purchase an on-trend but tired piece like this, it may also be worth reupholstering.

If the Sofa Has Good Bones

It makes sense to reupholster if your sofa is very high quality or has an unusual frame. It is possible that the cost of reupholstering it would be less than buying a new sofa of comparable quality. You may have a perfectly good sofa that can be brought back to life by just re-covering with a new fabric.

It may also be difficult to source a new sofa with the same type of frame if it is something more specialized.

Plus, if it is a particularly comfortable sofa that, other than the upholstery, is in good condition, you may not want to part with it.

Just make sure that it has a sturdy frame and good lines if it is to be considered worth the investment of reupholstering.

If Reupholstering 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 re-upholsterers for all fabric and parts, and then weigh it against what you would pay for a new sofa of the same quality.

Remember that there is a difference between re-covering and reupholstering. Re-covering involves just replacing the fabric, and it is more of a cosmetic procedure. Reupholstering could involve replacing the padding and springs, mending the frame, or restaining any wood. A complete re-upholstery job involves a lot of labor and replacement of material and is more structural in nature.

If you are just tired of the fabric you have right now but don’t want to invest in a new piece of furniture, you may also want to look into slipcovers.

In the end, it is simply a question of finding the best value.