Why Reupholster Rather Than Replace Furniture?

Hi I am Mitchell Stuart a keen environmentalist and a nutty upcycler. I love nothing more then bringing a new lease of life to an old piece of furniture but why do I bother?

Knowing when to reupholster or replace furniture is not an easy decision to make. There are several factors that will influence your decision and even these may not make it financially viable. If you decide that reupholstering is the way to go you should know that it is an expensive undertaking. Depending on what piece of furniture it is, reupholstering could end up costing you much more than purchasing a new piece. Going to all that expense can still be worthwhile but only after you’ve gone through the following thought process.

The History

The history of a piece of furniture may give you some idea of whether you consider to reupholster it. Consider the age, where it came from, how it ended up in your possession. Perhaps it’s an old family heirloom, an antique or collectible that is regarded as quite valuable or worth a lot of money? Inherited furniture may hold some sentimental value meaning that you’d rather part money with reupholstering it than part ways with it altogether.


Assessing the condition of the piece should without a doubt be something to consider when reupholstering. The condition is going to point to how much work is involved resulting in the expense of it. The following three points are important to consider:

  • Cigarette Smoke – Did the piece live in a house with smokers? If the answer is yes then residual smoke would have gone into the fabric and lining and possibly even the wooden frame. Even with reupholstering the smell may never be removed.
  • Mould Growth – Did the piece ever spend any time in a basement or garage. Locations such as these are notorious for high humidity and damp leading to a musty smell which is caused by mould. Mould thrives on any material that comes from a plant such as linen, cotton or wood. Lack of light will also aid it to grow. The wooden frame of any furniture piece will absorb any moisture and humidity available to them which could mean the mould could have affected the whole piece. The only solution to this is stripping the piece right back to the wooden frame to treat the mould with subsequent rebuilding afterwards.This will not be cheap.
  • Insect Infestation – Was this piece ever stored in a location that could have been infested with insects such as bedbugs? If you are unsure then you will need to look into this as it could be a potential disaster waiting to happen if you bring this into your home.

If at any stage you have answered yes to any of these questions then you need to seriously consider whether reupholstering is the right thing to do despite any sentimental feelings that you have towards the piece.

The Cost of Reupholstering

The cost of reupholstering can go from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are a lot of variables to consider. One of the most important things to think about is the fabric that you wish to use. A yard of fabric can set you back anything from £30 to £200 and with a typical sofa requiring around 15 yards of fabric, it starts to get expensive pretty quickly. Another important factor is the labour costs. The location you get your furniture reupholstered can really affect the cost of labour. It is best to shop around and the farther you can expand your search the better on your bank balance. The bottom line is the price will be comparable if not more than buying a new piece of furniture.

The Advantages of Reupholstering

If you have reached this far and the cost of reupholstering doesn’t faze you then read on discover the advantages of reupholstering your favourite piece of furniture.

  • Reupholstering can bring life back to faded, shabby and old-fashioned furniture. The chances are that you would have purchased this piece a long time ago. The older furniture is the better quality and standard tend to be and as a result will still have a few years of life still in them. You could spend the same amount of money buying a new piece of furniture to not have it last as long due to different manufacturing standards.
  • Reupholstering your furniture gives you the chance of injecting your own personal style and taste in your home in a way that shop bought furniture can’t offer. Shopping for furniture limits you to what’s out there and available to you and you may have to compromise the vision that you hold in your head for this. The sky’s the limit when it comes to reupholstery.  Having exactly what you want to make your home look beautiful is considered priceless to many.
  • When dealing with furniture such as sofas and chairs, the level of comfort that is offered is going to be important. Buying a new sofa or chair may compromise that comfort as it is hard to find something that’s comfortable, affordable and well made. Reupholstering your already comfortable sofa, ensures your prolonged comfort whilst giving it a fresh new look.
  • Reupholstering can be a great way of recycling and keeping your wastage to a minimum to protect the environment. Throwing out old pieces usually means it ends up in landfill. Take care of the Earth and recycle your old furniture and bring some life back into it. 

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