PART ONE: MODERN FURNITURE
Understanding how much something will cost is always an essential factor in any decision we make. And in many cases the answer you’ll be given is that old favourite: ”How long is a piece of string?!”
But that’s not helpful, and at Richardson & Paige, we’re all about being helpful.
So what I’ve done is to break down the different elements of reupholstering so you can make informed decisions at each stage.
First things first
Before deciding if reupholstering is the right choice, you need to know whether your furniture is modern or old – because knowing that will influence most of the decisions you’re about to make.
“But Robbie,” you say, “how can I tell?!”
So let’s break this down for you. It’s not an exact science and is often debated, but work with me here, it may help solve a little of the confusion and will be a good benchmark to work with.
- Modern furniture is usually less than 50 years old.
- Old furniture is anything over the 50-year mark.
- Antique furniture is usually nearer 100 years old.
When reupholstering isn’t the right choice
If you bought your furniture brand new and it was not too expensive then I would bet my favourite hammer that reupholstering isn’t a good option for you.
Why? Because the quality of the frame and interiors (the padding or stuffing) would likely be of a quality that, no matter how much money you spent, it would still be a flimsy sofa with a very short life expectancy. A good deal of modern furniture is never intended to last a long time and, sadly, it’s part of our ‘throwaway’ society today.
But that’s a different topic entirely and one I’m passionate about so I’d better not start on this now!
However, if your modern sofa is of good quality and solid, but the covers are worn thin, and the foam is showing underneath, it will be worth your while getting the item reupholstered.
You do need to be prepared to spend money on it – but when you do, that sofa will last a long, long time. It could become the family heirloom your great, great – even great! – Grandchildren look at fondly and remember you when they do.
So, how much are we talking?!
Let’s use a three-seater sofa as our example:
For an average three-seater, you could need anything from 12m to 16m of fabric.
That’s when you need to start making choices as fabrics come in different qualities, and that quality determines the price.
But for our example let’s say our chosen fabric costs £40 a metre.
To buy 12m of £40 per metre fabric you can expect to spend £480. If it’s 16m you need then your spend will be £640.
When you’ve looked at your available budget, you may decide to go up a level. So for example, choose a fabric that costs £60 a metre. For 12m that will be £720 and for 16m that will be £960.
It may seem like a big investment just for fabric. But what you can be confident about is that the more you can spend, the better the quality and the longer it will last. So it’s worth spending as much as you can afford, and thinking of it more as an investment than a ‘one-off’ purchase.
If there is a pattern on the fabric, you may require more meterage to pattern match.
Additionally, fabrics used to cover modern furniture needs to be treated with Fire Retardant – so if it isn’t already that will need to be factored into your budget. The laws on older furniture are different – check out our article Furniture Safety Measures; what’s the law and what isn’t?
Please note: in most cases, if a fabric has not been chosen then a fabric price will NOT be included in your quote.
These costs will vary, of course, depending on the size and condition of the sofa.
But if we take the same three-seater sofa used in the fabric example, we can break down the time your upholsterer is likely to spend on each section to give you an idea of the work involved:
Step One – Removing existing covers
When working with a modern sofa, this stage can sometimes take several days – but usually, about a day is required for this step.
Staples and fabric must all be removed before the new covers are put on to ensure a clean final piece.
There can sometimes be the removal of glue involved. And always an abundance of staples bedded deeply into the wood frames, especially with high-quality sofas. These staples are often the longer variety, so quite tricky; and each needs to be carefully removed.
Step Two – Cutting new fabric to fit
The time taken at this stage will depend on the sofa design.
If it’s complicated, this can take another two to three days. Simpler designs will take less of course, but usually a day at least is required for this stage.
The process involves measuring and cutting the new fabric to fit the sofa. It requires concentration and precision as any mistakes could be costly (for us!).
Step Three – Covering (the upholstery)
Covering the sofa is next.
This process can vary widely from one sofa to the next, but a realistic time is two or three days. This must be done with care, and usually, one upholsterer fits all the parts of the sofa to ensure consistent quality.
Step Four – Sewing fabric
Making cushions, arms, backs and piping, plus sewing covers together can easily be a day’s work – even more, if there is a complicated pattern to match!
You won’t regret the time and cost to reupholster a treasured item of furniture
So as you can see, on average it can take about eight days (often more) focussed work for a skilled craftsman to breathe new life into your old sofa.
Which means a budget of approximately £1,000 (2020 estimate) – plus the cost of fabric is a realistic figure to work to.
In most cases, you will find the upholsterer will make a considerably better job than the original piece produced in the factory. And whether this works out cheaper than buying new depends entirely on the quality of your sofa to start with. Plus its sentimental value of course – there can be no price for the value of that.
What we recommend is that you don’t trust your reupholstering project to anyone other than a traditional craftsperson. Make sure your upholsterer has the skills your furniture needs. Along with those skills, you will get someone who respects your furniture and restores it with care because they love their craft.
Do you need advice on your restoration project?
Call our expert team at Richardson & Paige on 01380 578012