Here is Your Complete Guide to Furniture Reupholstery
When you are deciding whether you want to reupholster furniture or buy new furniture, you need to ask yourself several questions to make your best-informed decision. You should also consider the costs of reupholstering or new and if you are able to do it yourself or you need professional help.
In a perfect world, you may be able to reupholster your own furniture yourself at a lower cost and it will look amazing. However, this isn’t always the way it will work out. Some pieces are easy for an avid DIY’er to complete and look great however, many times your work will be less than stellar and you will then need to hire a skilled reupholstery craftsman to fix them.
What is the Difference Between Recovering and Reupholstering?
Before you get started on deciding if a piece of furniture is worth reupholstering, you should know that there is a difference between recovering and reupholstering. Recovering is the simpler process of putting new fabric over the old fabric and fastening it onto the piece of furniture securely with screws or tacks. Reupholstering is the process of removing the old fabric and the foam or inserts and replacing all of the old pieces plus the fabric. A professional will also examine the frame and springs for damage and repair them a needed, repair or replace hardware and apply new trim as well as the padding and fabric. This gives you a much more streamlined product that will last longer because there can be too much give between the old and new fabrics when you recover it and then they slightly slide between each other leading to your new top fabric tearing easily. Professionals that reupholster furniture have special machines and tools that help them in the stretching, sealing and securing processes for a streamlined appearance every time.
The Great Misconception About Furniture Reupholstery
Many times a person may watch some shows on TV that make reupholstering look so simple and easy that they think they can certainly do the same and obtain the same professional appearance. It is possible for beginners in the DIY field to handle some smaller and easier projects, but for more complicated projects, you could mess up a piece of furniture pretty badly. Many times it will result in you using your time and resources and having a finished product that doesn’t look so good. Then you will need to take it to a professional, who may charge you more to remove the botched parts and then reupholster your items, costing you more in the long run.
Why Should You Go For Reupholstery?
Some of the best reasons to go for reupholstering an item is that it’s a family heirloom that has been passed down to you and you want to keep it even though the fabric is a bit outdated. Adding new fabric and padding can renew the item and you can in turn pass it down through your family. Older items usually have more sturdy solid wood frames–or good bones–as they are called in the furniture business. This will give you a piece that will last many more years than a newer piece with a lighter construction. Also, you may not have sentimental value in the item, but you just love it and want to keep it. This can be any piece of furniture that fits well in your home or office that is comfortable and cozy.
Reupholstery generally does cost more than securing a new item in several cases. If it’s a large sectional or living room set it will need considerably more fabric, padding and labor. If you have limited funds or you don’t especially love the style, you may be better off buying a new piece. If there is considerable structural damages that need repairs and it doesn’t’ have sentimental value, you should most probably buy a new piece.
How Much Does Furniture Reupholstery Cost?
Reupholster costs vary quite a bit but are based on the labor cost and the materials, which is usually quoted to you as one price per piece of furniture.
Reupholstering a couch will cost about $600 to $4,000 and a loveseat is about $600 to $2,000 compared to a larger sectional at about $2,000 to $4,000. Larger pieces will be more and pieces with loose, removable cushions will also be more expensive.
Prices to reupholster a chair will range from $50 to $2,000, depending on the size of the chair. A dining room chair only entails upholstery on the seat and it may cost $50 to $250, while a living room wingback chair can be between $1,000 and $2,000.
The price to reupholster an ottoman is around $300 to $700. A smaller piece with little decoration on it will be on the lower end of the price spectrum and premium fabrics or features such as diamond tufting will be on the higher end of the prices.
Putting new upholstery on an indoor chaise lounge costs between $900 to $1,500. They are lower than the cost to redo a couch because they often don’t have loose cushions or a back on them. If you have an antique style with a decoratively curved back on it, it will be on the higher end of these prices.
To reupholster a headboard it will cost between $200 and $2,000. The smaller frames with basic shapes and inexpensive fabric are on the lower end of the spectrum while large and complex shapes will be closer to the top end of the price range.
What Are Other Factors That Affect The Prices?
Many other factors come into play when you have furniture professionally reupholstered. Some items include your fabric choices, the size and the condition of the piece beforehand.
Fabrics generally cost between $50 and $70 per yard although you can find some that are on the low end of $10 per yard or on the high end that are $200 per yard. Depending on your fabric choice, it could actually double the total price of reupholstery. Leather costs about the same as most fabrics. It runs about $30 to $60 per yard and it is available in smaller pieces that are priced lower such as $4 to $15 per square foot. It’s important to note that leather is not woven and if you have a small piece to upholster and can use the pieces rather than yards of leather, you will have a great looking item at a greatly reduced price.
The existing condition of your furniture plays a part in the reupholster price also since a professional will repair or replace any parts necessary to make it look brand new. Cleaning costs on upholstering are between $125 to $225, refinishing the wood on a piece is between $350 and $900 and the cost for repairs is often between $125 and $225.
You should keep in mind that some professionals charge separately for the transpiration of your furniture. You can transport it yourself to save this cost, but make certain you don’t break a chair leg or put gouges in a wooden armrest or it could tack on several more dollars to the final price for repairs.
If your piece needs frame repairs it can cost between $200 and $400. This isn’t always apparent until the old fabric and padding are removed.
The addition of decorative tufting or nail heads on furniture can cost $100 to $500 more than the average reupholstery job. This type of work is labor-intensive and it can also increase the amount of fabric that is needed by 20 to 30 percent.
If you want decorative pillows reupholstered to match your new couch or chair they cost between $50 and $125 not including the price of the fabric. If you have smaller pillows and there will be extra fabric leftover from the chair or couch, it can be a great way to use it and add comfort and style to your home at the same time.
DIY Upholstery vs. Getting a Pro
There are a few instances in which a beginner can DIY upholster some items and be very successful while saving a lot of money in completing the task themselves. One such item is dining room chairs. Most dining room chairs only have seats that are upholstered and often the seat is square. This makes for an easy project that can be done in short time after you choose your fabric. Another project often done at home is to reupholster a headboard for a bed. A simple rectangular shape without any tufting, tucks or extra decoration is a pretty simple job for anyone as well. Most of the time, any other projects should be left up to a professional.
How to DIY Upholstery
To reupholster dining room chairs you first turn the chair upside down and see how the seat is attached to the frame. Most of the time it is attached by screws. You will need to remove the screws so the seat is free from the frame and save the screws to reinstall later. Next, see how the fabric is secured to the wood frame. Most often it is held on by staples, which are removed with a staple remover, or you can use a flat-head screwdriver to pry them up. Then you remove the old foam padding from the seat. Use the wooden seat as a template and place it on the new foam. Draw a line around the seat onto the foam and cut it out with a utility knife. Place your new fabric upside down on a flat surface, such as the floor or a table and place the foam on it first and top it with the wooden seat. Use a pencil to trace a line three inches large than the seat and foam all the way around and cut the fabric out with scissors. Then use the new fabric cut out as a template to cut your new batting. Attach the batting and foam to the seat using a staple gun pulling the batting taut to the seat as you go around it. Trim any excess batting along the outer edge of your staple line. Place the new fabric on a flat surface with the right side down and put the seat with the batting side down on the fabric. Attach the fabric with a staple gun in the same manner as you did with the batting. Reattach your seat to the chair frame with the screws you saved from taking it apart.
You would use this same exact method in order to reupholster a headboard for your bed. This method works perfectly for squares and rectangles and also for chairs or headboards that may be a bit wider on one end than the other, as dining room chair seats are often wider at the front than the rear for a more comfortable seat.
When to Get Professional Help
To put it in broad terms, if you are new to upholstery and haven’t attempted it before, you should most likely leave any project other than a simple designed dining room chair or headboard to the professionals. Antique pieces or family heirlooms are not really for DIY’ers. Antique wood frames often need special treatments to avoid removing the original stain or for repairing tiny cracks so it looks great.
Anything that requires full upholstery such as club chairs, ottomans, and couches is too complicated for a beginner to do. Items with upholstered backs and arms are time-consuming and unforgiving of mistakes. Also if your piece has any type of foundation issues such as a wobbly leg or frame, you should get professional help so these items can be repaired at the same time.
Make certain that you choose a professional for all of your reupholstery needs with experience in redoing pieces similar to the ones you want to renew for the best results.