How to Determine if a Sofa Is Worth Upholstering


When determining the pros and cons of new upholstery for an old sofa that lives in your family room or even a charming garage sale find, consider cost. The bottom line for your decision concerns comparing the cost of reupholstering the old sofa or a buying new sofa. The secondary factor concerns your enjoyment of the sofa. Do not try to keep a piece of furniture that you dislike. If you confirm that reupholstering an old couch is the best way, you will have the satisfaction of recycling and saving landfill space.

Frame Construction

  • To evaluate the cost effectiveness of sending a sofa to the upholsterer, assess the quality of the piece. Do not waste money refurbishing a cheaply made couch. Well-made furniture has a sturdy frame. Check your sofa for a hardwood frame with no knots in the wood. Plywood or particle board would signal a cheaply made sofa. The joints should be glued and doweled. Be wary of joints that have staples holding them together. With the current fabric on the couch in poor condition, you can easily remove a small area of fabric to take a look at the interior construction. Turn the couch over and examine the underside to take a peek at the frame. Turning the couch over will give you an idea of the weight. Heavier furniture signals a better quality wood in the frame.

Age and Value

  • In your evaluation of the sofa, try to determine the value. If you originally purchased the couch at a bargain price, or if it does not have an outstanding design, reupholstering may not be the best choice. On the other hand, if the couch is an antique, the expense may be worthwhile. An antique sofa, nicely upholstered, will add ambiance and enjoyment to your home. Fifteen- to 20-year-old sofas are not antique, but often have higher quality construction than new furniture.


  • The construction of the springs in a sofa goes a long way toward providing comfortable seating. Look for coil springs that are hand tied and spaced closely together. If the upholsterer has to add springs to your sofa to make it right, the cost will increase more than if the existing springs just need to be retied. For sofas with the no-sag sinuous springs, look for heavy gauge metal springs spaced about 4 inches apart.


  • Talk to a reupholstering expert in your area to get an idea of cost. Upholstery fabric can be pricey, especially durable and attractive material. Find out if your sofa will need new padding, cushions and springs. A sofa that needs to be almost rebuilt will cost much more. A couch that needs only new fabric will have a lower cost. Take a spin around a furniture store and gather prices for new sofas. Make sure that you price furniture of the same quality as the piece you want to reupholster. A brand new cheaply made sofa does not compare with the cost of renewing an older, but high quality couch.

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