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Choosing to reupholster a piece of furniture usually has nothing to do with the money you’d save or the money you’d spend. In most cases, the financial side of reupholstering a piece is not as important as the physical and emotional points. Perhaps you’ve owned this sofa since you got married. Maybe it’s been in the family for three decades. Or maybe you love the style or can’t find another quite as comfortable as this particular piece of furniture.
It could also be the memories associated with this particular sofa that makes you want to consider reupholstering it. You remember sitting on it when your children were young. It was Fido’s favorite place to rest. It was where you and your spouse watched late night movies. There’s just something about this couch that you cannot give up.
Whether it’s the sentimental value, the fact that it’s of antique quality, or simply because of the suitability for your space, there’s no need to set your sofa by the side of the street for trash day if it’s starting to show signs of wear. It can be rescued.
How old is the sofa? If you are purchasing a piece specifically to reupholster, determine the age from the seller or dealer. Furniture that has been made in the past ten years is usually not sturdy enough to reupholster. It may only have a few years left in it, and the cost of having it redone will not be worth the few short years of use. Older pieces are usually of better quality. A piece that’s been in use for over ten years and is still sound structural is probably a well-crafted sofa.
Gently shake the sofa by each arm and the back, testing to see if it feels unsteady or loose in any way. If so, it probably isn’t built well enough to reupholster. However, if it feels sturdy and solid, it is probably durable enough to last many more years.
The quality of the frame is an ideal clue to the worthiness of the sofa. It should be made of solid hardwood with little to no knots in the wood. If you are unable to see the sofa’s frame, then you can usually tell by the weight of the piece. Remove the cushions and then try to lift the couch. If it feels exceptionally heavy for its size, then it is likely hardwood and well built. If it is relatively easy to lift, then it is probably not worth keeping.
Another clue to the quality of the piece is how it is jointed. It should be connected with dowels and glue, not staples. Newer furniture tends to be made of composite materials, such as plywood, and the joints are secured with metal staples. Older and dependable pieces of furniture are secured with dowels or grooves and wood glue.
Examine the springs of the sofa. High-quality sofas are built using coiled springs that are tied with twine to secure them and add to the stability of the piece. Furniture that is not worth reupholstering usually has S-shaped coils that run horizontally or rubber panels that completely replace the springs.
If you are unable to visually check the springs, instead feel the underside of the sofa. If the dust cover is sagging or loose, it probably is too old or not well-crafted. Well-built couches typically maintain a tight dust cover, even after many years of use.
Feel the cushions and padded areas of the sofa. They should be firm and hefty. Low-quality foam cushions and padding is typically soft and pliable. If the cushions compress easily, then it may be best to pass on that particular piece.
If you find the material to be lumpy and stiff, it could still be altered into a comfortable sofa with a new fabric design. Older sofas often have a rigid, lumpy feel, but can be renovated to feel like new.
Probably the most important consideration in determining if a sofa is worth reupholstering is how much you like it. Will you find another piece of furniture that appeals to you as much or more than this one? Does this piece have sentimental value?
Finding the perfect sofa is not easy. There are more relevant factors than the size and shape of the piece. There is sometimes that gut feeling of just knowing that you love this sofa and no other will do. If that is the case, then make the repairs and have the piece reupholstered. You won’t be sorry for keeping the perfect piece, but you may regret letting it go.
Reupholstering a piece of furniture keeps it out of the landfill, which makes it an eco-conscious choice. As long as the sofa is of high-quality craftsmanship and meets your needs - both in terms of space and design - then it is worth your time to speak to a trusted upholsterer about minor repairs, fabric choices, and next steps in reupholstering your sofa.