How to Reupholster a Sofa (And How Much It Costs)
Is your sofa in need of a refresh?
If your sofa has stains, faded patches or thinning fabric, you can reupholster it instead of buying a whole replacement as we all know sofas aren’t usually cheap, unless you buy one of our cheap sofas that is! Reupholstering is an affordable and sustainable option, and can be done DIY-style at home!
In this article, we’ll cover:
- How much reupholstering costs
- How long it takes
- Pros and cons
- Is buying a new sofa a better idea?
Ready? Let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
- 1 How Much Does It Cost to Reupholster a Sofa?
- 2 Factors That Affect the Cost of Reupholstering a Sofa
- 3 Time Frame for Reupholstery: How Long Does It Take?
- 4 Pros and Cons of Reupholstering a Sofa
- 5 Reupholstering a Sofa: Is it Worth the Investment?
- 6 Reupholstery vs. Buying New: Which One is More Cost-Effective?
- 7 DIY Sofa Reupholstery: Can You Do It Yourself?
- 8 The Bottom Line
How Much Does It Cost to Reupholster a Sofa?
The price of reupholstering a sofa varies greatly, depending on many factors. To give you a broad estimate, it can cost around £400–£1300.
Your fabric, sofa design and stuffing choice impact this estimate.
Factors That Affect the Cost of Reupholstering a Sofa
Size of the Sofa
How big is your sofa?
If it’s an enormous L-couch, you’ll find your price on the higher end of the scale. If it’s a small loveseat, you won’t need much fabric and it will be cheaper as a result.
Fabric can vary greatly in feel, durability, and price.
What fabric is your sofa covered in? It might be simple cotton, faux leather, corduroy, or even fine embroidered silk.
If you want to reupholster your couch in a simple material, it’ll typically be on the lower end of the price scale. If you prefer something more luxurious, expect it to cost more as well.
Type of Filling Used
Once upon a time, sofas were filled with straw or animal hair. Nowadays, the typical sofa material is foam or polyester stuffing, with embedded springs. More expensive options include plant fibres or feathers.
The volume of the sofa matters here. If its cushions are supposed to be big and puffy, you will need to pay for a large volume of filling!
Complexity of the Design
If your sofa is fairly simple in how it’s constructed, chances are it’ll be quite simple to reupholster. However, couches that are unordinary shapes are trickier.
For example, if your couch is a rounded shape as opposed to the traditional rectangle, more intricate sewing is needed to achieve a neat finish.
Added Expenses and Inclusions
Fixing the Sofa Frame
Keeping the same frame is the best part about reupholstering when compared to starting afresh! Often, the frame is still in good condition even when the upholstery is worn and torn.
Sofa frames are typically made of wood. The part most likely to break is the slats – if someone has been jumping on the couch too hard, by chance.
Other problems could include the wood rotting, nails/staples rusting or falling out, or termites snacking on it!
Replacing slats or reinforcing joints will extend the life of your sofa’s frame. After all, a good base is the start of a good sofa.
Sofa tufting, originally intended to disperse stuffing evenly across a sofa, is now a staple design detail.
Tufting involves sewing sections into your couch to allow an equal amount of stuffing into each section.
Your sofa might have puffy stripes along the back or evenly spaced indented holes with buttons in them. This is the tufting technique in play.
Re-stuffing the Cushions
There’s nothing worse than a flat, lumpy pillow. Fortunately, you can easily replace the stuffing and pillowcases.
Your cushions shouldn’t strain at the seams, but they shouldn’t sag either; balance is needed here.
Installing New Padding
Padding is crucial to create a comfortable sofa. It helps to fill out pillows, and it works as a barrier between you and the springs. It also fills in gaps, which is important as the outer fabric stretches over time.
Padding is usually foam. It needs to be soft and cushy while stiff enough to hold a structure. Padding should also be evenly dispersed, to avoid lumps and divots when you sit down.
Replacing the Seat Springs
We’ve all seen the cartoon character gets ejected into the ceiling from a loose couch spring. Prevent this from happening by replacing wonky, bent, or rusted springs!
The springs are usually made from wire, so they can be bent back into shape. You will need pliers and patience to do this. Otherwise, replacements can be purchased and installed.
Time Frame for Reupholstery: How Long Does It Take?
The time frame for reupholstery varies. You may have to wait for fabric to arrive before you can even begin! The experience of your upholsterer and the size of your couch are also important factors to consider.
Larger couches will require more fabric, more stuffing and padding, and more sewing. If you have chosen a material that’s difficult to work with, this will also add to the time required.
Custom or uniquely shaped couches require more time to reupholster as well. It’s one thing to sew rectangular pieces, but it’s another to contour material to intricate curves and depressions.
To give a broad estimate, reupholstering a couch (fabric only) will take 15–24 hours of work. Repairing the frame and springs and replacing the stuffing will take extra time.
If you employ a furniture repair specialist to do the job, expect your sofa to be with them for around two weeks. Depending on where you live, this is about as long as it takes for a brand-new sofa to arrive as well.
Therefore in terms of time frame, reupholstering vs. ordering a new couch may be very similar.
Pros and Cons of Reupholstering a Sofa
An entirely new sofa can set you back thousands, but a reupholstering project will only be a matter of hundreds of dollars.
For people on a budget, this is a no-brainer.
Retains the Sentimental Value of the Sofa
Dumping a piece of furniture with sentimental value is guilt-inducing.
Instead of doing this, look into ways to repair and replace the problem parts. That way, you are putting new life into something used and beloved.
If you hated the colour of your sofa originally, reupholstering is your chance to change it.
You can pick whichever fabric is in your budget: any colour, pattern, or feel. Refresh your interior design by going for something lighter and brighter.
Or, if you loved the original fabric, go for exactly the same again!
Couches are bulky and definitely not biodegradable. When you throw away old furniture, you’re unfortunately contributing to the landfill pileup.
To limit wood, springs, stuffing, and textile waste, don’t throw your whole couch away when the fabric wears down.
Instead, consider small repairs or a complete reupholster. If it’s done correctly, reupholstering can make an old couch look brand new.
If you absolutely must get rid of your couch, try salvaging materials that can be used for something else.
For example, springs could go to scrap metal, or old fabric could be cut into rags.
You could be waiting weeks until your couch is ready to pick up. Are you willing to wait that long?
Plus, there’s always the risk that you won’t like the couch after its makeover. It might be uncomfortable, or too puffy. That takes you back to square one!
May Require Professional Help
If your sofa is vintage, has a complicated design, or is made with very expensive materials, you might have to visit a specialist. It’s not recommended for rookies to DIY this sort of furniture.
Cost May Exceed Budget
For those of you on a budget (who isn’t!), ask for a quote from multiple upholsterers if possible.
If the cost is simply too high to warrant, it’s in your best interest to abandon the idea.
If you aren’t able to get it fixed, try this instead: sew or purchase a couch cover and slip it over the worn fabric.
It’s not a permanent solution, but it hides stains, tears, and exposed stuffing.
Not Always Feasible
It’s worth trying to save a sofa. For the sake of sentimental value, your wallet, and the environment, see if there’s something you can do.
But if the couch is too far gone, there might not be too much you can do! If it’s entirely rotted or more expensive to repair than to replace, then binning it is the way to go.
Reupholstering a Sofa: Is it Worth the Investment?
Overall, reupholstery is worth a try. You can save money, prevent waste, and extend the life of a good sofa.
However, some sofas are better suited to reupholstery than others. If yours has a decent frame and sturdy springs, it’s a good candidate.
But if your sofa is rotting, has loose springs and the foam is eaten away, it’s probably time to let it go.
Unless it has enormous sentimental value and you are willing to pay a lot to get it fixed, in the bin it goes!
Reupholstery vs. Buying New: Which One is More Cost-Effective?
When considering reupholstery or buying new, reupholstery is an option you should seriously consider!
You can essentially create a new sofa from an old one at a much lower price point. The appearance and comfort will be renewed, so it will feel refreshed.
Try this before ditching your shabby sofa. You will be amazed by the before and after!
DIY Sofa Reupholstery: Can You Do It Yourself?
Reupholstery can be tricky, especially for beginners. But if you have experience sewing and are confident with basic furniture repair, you could probably tackle a simple couch project.
However, if you don’t have any related experience, the result may not turn out as desired!
I would recommend searching for an upholstery service near you. Check out some options, request a few quotes, and see what you think.
In the case of vintage, ornate, or oddly-shaped sofas, let a professional do the work. They will be able to restore the sofa to its former glory!
The Bottom Line
If your sofa is looking a little dilapidated, don’t rush to throw it out. Invest in a re-upholstery service, and your sofa may yet come back to life.
If you aren’t sure it can be salvaged, ask your local experts for an assessment. From there, you can decide the fate of your beloved (or not-so-beloved) sofa. Good luck!