I’d like my furniture re-upholstered traditionally. How much does it cost? part 2

A key question when you’re deciding whether to have your furniture re-upholstered – how much will it cost? To decide if re-upholstering traditionally is for you and to work out your budget, you need to know a few basic points –


An older piece of furniture can present a bigger challenge than modern furniture. It’s difficult to assess how much time it will take until the work begins.

Unlike modern pieces though, it is rare for it not to be worth the time spent on it. In today’s market, there are few companies which make traditional, high-quality sofas. Those which do will charge around £10,000 as a ball-park figure.

These companies are really your only comparison to an antique piece. However, a new piece cannot compare with the history and sentiment attached to antique furniture. Pieces tell the story of lives well lived and if a sofa reaches 100 years old, that’s a good indicator of how well it was made.

Here is our breakdown of the potential costs:

The fabric

A good starting point is the £30 to £40 per metre cost as I said of last week. With many antique pieces, you can justify spending more.

Upholstery costs

There are many things to consider with an older piece. Often, joints will be damaged or loose. Pricing an antique restoration can be difficult, but in the right hands your furniture can be repaired and restored and will last for many more years.

Going back to that three-seater sofa (from last week) we can break down the different stages to reupholster an antique piece, using traditional methods:

  • Remove existing covers/Cut new fabric/Sew fabric – As per the Modern Sofa and could take up to a week to complete the different stages. The only difference here however is that antique furniture tends to have been upholstered using tacks rather than staples, these are much easier to remove, but can leave large holes in the frame which generally need filling in.
  • Rebuild the seat, back and arms – This is a very important state of the process as it will affect the overall comfort and shape of the sofa. Webbing is tacked and weaved by hand. Springs are hand-knotted on to the webbing, a three-seater sofa could need 25-40 springs in the seat alone. The springs are then covered in hessian and stuffed with horsehair. A variety of stitches are used to support the stuffing and build an edge to create and maintain the shape of the sofa. This is a highly skilled and time-consuming job and can take up many days to complete depending on the style of sofa, and if done correctly can lead to the seat, back and arms lasting for up to 100 years!
  • Covering (the upholstery) – The sofa is covered in a layer of cotton felt and calico before the fabric is carefully tacked on to the sofa. This process can take 4 or 5 days or longer to complete, again, depending of the style of the sofa. For example, a sofa with a deep buttoned seat and back would take considerably more time than a plain (un-buttoned) sofa.

To traditionally reupholster an antique piece requires much more skill and technique than restoring a modern foam piece and can take two weeks or even longer to complete the process.

In answer to the original question – How much does it cost? The answer is:

“it depends” It depends on whether your sofa is modern or antique, what style it is, which fabric you choose, among many other aspects

So, take these tips as your essential guide to costing your re-upholstery project. The most important tip we can give you is this: Make sure your upholsterer has the traditional skills your furniture needs.

Do you need advice on your restoration project? Call our expert team at Richardson & Paige on 01380 578012.