With the economy still in a rut, an increasing number of people are looking for ways to make their belongings last longer. They are looking for ways to save money without sacrificing quality. If you are one of these people, you may be considering reupholstering your old furniture. The decision to repair rather than replace can be a complicated one, however, and there are a number of things to think about before choosing the fate of your used chair or sofa.
Why Pay for Upholstery Repair?
There are many reasons that prompt people to change their furniture. In many cases, the old upholstery is worn and shabby. Threadbare patches on the cushions may give your sofa an unsightly appearance. Small tears can catch on belt buckles and watch bands and can quickly become much larger. If you want to save the upholstery fabric that you already have, it is important to act quickly. While a small tear is easy to repair, a larger tear may be impossible to fix without leaving a large seam or mark. If you wait until it is too late, you may have to reupholster the whole piece if you want it to look like new.
Even if your furniture is in excellent condition, you may be considering new upholstery. The old fabric may look dated or you may have recently redesigned your living room and the old fabric does not match your new decor. Perhaps you are simply bored with your old couch and want a change of scene. In many cases, older furniture is made of stronger, higher-quality materials than what is commonly found in stores today. Reupholstery is a great way to update the look of tried and true pieces that may still have years of life left in them.
Repair or Replace: Calculating the Cost of Upholstery Repair
Upholstery repair may not always seem like the least expensive option. While fixing a few tears may be affordable, reupholstering an entire sofa or chair is much more expensive. With the cost of fabric and padding materials added to the upholsterers labor fee, giving your couch a facelift could end up costing from $1000 to $2000. You could walk into any old department store and buy a brand new couch for the same price.
Before you rush out to buy a brand new sofa, however, there are a few things to think about. Consider if you really want to buy furniture from any old department store. Most manufacturers today sell mass-produced items made from cheap materials. The average low-end sofa, for example, costs around $1000. While the outside may look nice enough, the inside is made from plywood, wafer board and particle board. These soft materials are held together with a combination of staples, small dabs of glue and maybe a single dowel at the joints. Mid-range sofas, on the other hand, usually sell in the $2000 range. These use denser materials inside with plenty of staples, double dowels and screws at the corners. Only once you get into the $3000 to $4000 range, however, do you see sofas made the old-fashioned way with solid, hard wood structures, fully-doweled joinery and lots of glue to hold it all together.
Now consider your old piece of furniture. If it was built before the 1980’s, chances are that it is built to a higher standard than most mid-priced furniture today. In the first half of the twentieth century, even low-end furniture was built using hard woods and traditional methods of joinery. These sofas and chairs were made to last. The fact that you still have one to reupholster is testament to its quality. Whether it needs a bit of upholstery repair or it needs an entire overhaul, renewing your old sofa may end up being much cheaper than buying a new one of similar quality.
Upholstery repair can also give you affordable options for customization. Low- and mid-priced sofas usually come with several upholstery fabric choices. The fabrics, however, are often similar in texture and pattern and differ only slightly in color. If you want to choose from a full range of fabrics, you are left with no choice but to order a custom-built sofa. Because custom-built sofas cannot be mass-produced, the price may go up by as much as $2000. When you get an old sofa reupholstered, however, you have complete control over what fabric is used.
When Is Upholstery Repair Not Worth It?
If the problem lays in the upholstery itself, or the padding underneath, upholstery repair is almost always worthwhile. Sometimes, however, a piece of furniture is too old or damaged to fix with a simple reupholstery.
Consider repairing the piece if any of these things is wrong with it:
- the fabric is worn, torn or stained
- the stuffing is thin or uncomfortable
- the fabric and padding has begun to rot
- the design looks dated
Consider replacing the piece if any of these things is wrong with it:
- the inner structure is cracked
- the dowels are coming apart
- the wood has begun to rot or mold
In the end, the decision is up to you. You are the one who has spent countless hours sitting on the chair or sofa. You are the one who knows just how solidly it is built. If you feel that this piece of furniture is worth saving, upholstery repair may be the best option.