You’re ready for a change in your home. You’ve looked at new curtains and considered new wall paint, but you have no idea whether you want to reupholster your existing furniture or buy new furniture. So you Google search “custom upholstery near me,” hoping to find a few experts that are local, affordable, and available.
If you’ve never before undertaken a reupholstery project, you may feel like a fish out of water. It’s a strange and murky world of seams and fabrics and hidden costs, right? Nope, it doesn’t have to be.
Let Kovi Fabrics demystify the industry and help you make the best and most informed decision for your upholstery revamp today.
The Upholstery Industry
Finding a quality upholsterer who can undertake your custom upholstery near me project requires more than a browse of the Yellow Pages. It is also about more than just looking at quotations and choosing the cheapest one.
Sadly, there is little regulation of the upholstery industry. Each upholsterer charges what they believe they are worth, and undercutting each other on quotes to secure work is not uncommon. You may believe you are being smart by playing off two upholstery companies against each other for the lowest price, but this is not always wise.
When you set up professionals to compete, chances are they may end up quoting incorrectly. They may overpromise and under-deliver. The company you choose will resent the work, and they won’t put in their best effort when they feel they have to strip their quote to the bone.
How to Choose the Best Professional for “Custom Upholstery Near Me”
Create a Short List
By creating a short list of candidates, you can remain organized and consider the pros and cons of each local upholsterer. Creating a little checklist can be useful. Your checklist can include the following:
- Fee per furniture piece
Getting a written quotation is a good idea. You will have to keep your upholsterer to their initial quotation, and having it in writing is the only way to do that. Once you know what you will pay, you can start comparing similar upholstery companies, without playing them off against each other.
- Charge structure (per hour or per item)
Next, you need to know how you will be charged. Are you paying per hour, or per item? Per hour is often popular, but only if there is a limit on how many hours the upholsterer will work on your project. Giving them free rein is not a good idea.
Your upholsterer needs a portfolio and reliable references you can check. And you should check. Call up a few of the upholsterer’s past clients, asking them how their experience with the upholsterer was and what they weren’t happy about.
A quality professional will happily provide you with a list of their satisfied clients. If they are well-known enough, you may even find online reviews of the upholsterer.
- Work in shop
Most upholsterers have a workshop where they keep furniture pieces they are busy working on. This gives you a view of their workplace setup.
If the workshop is chaotic and there are parts of furniture pieces everywhere, you will know the upholsterer may lose parts of your furniture. An organized workshop gives you the comfort and peace of mind in knowing the upholsterer is a real professional.
- Communication skills
There is nothing worse than calling your chosen upholsterer and not getting through and not having your call returned. When you ask people about upholsterers, ask whether they are communicative or not.
- Payment options
Some upholsterers offer a lay-bye option to help you pay for your upholstery project. This can really help to let you pay off your upholstery, but you will be without your furniture for several weeks or even months.
You can also consider asking the upholsterer for credit. This is not a popular option with smaller upholstery shops, but larger professionals may allow you to operate a credit feature with them.
- Sourcing of fabric
Your upholsterer needs to be an experienced industry professional. This means they need to know fabric, what fabric is suitable for your project, and they should be able to source fabric too.
While you may want to buy your own fabric, you should consult with your upholsterer to ensure you purchase enough fabric and that you accommodate any patterns in the fabric that need to match up.
Ask Your Fabric Supplier for a Referral
If you are still stuck in finding a quality professional for your upholstery or reupholstery project, you can always ask your fabric supplier or a recommendation in your area. This is exactly what Kovi Fabrics does.
The expertise of Kovi Fabrics consultants means we can recommend an upholsterer close to you as a referral. We can also help with your next custom upholstery near me project to guide you as to which professional upholsterer is best and what fabrics should be sourced.
Keep Your Labor Cost in Mind
Labor can be as, if not more, expensive than the cost of materials for a quality custom upholstery job. On average, a sofa can cost as much as $700 and upward to upholster (labor only). Dining room chairs are as much as $90 each for labor.
The amount your upholsterer charges for labor is not always an indication of quality. Upholsterers new to the industry may charge less while they make a name for themselves, and the quality of the samples in their workshop will tell you whether they are worth risking.
More expensive upholsterers may have already made a name for themselves, and contracting them may be worth it for peace of mind. However, there are always the few sly upholsterers who have spotted a gap in the market to charge a lot while cutting corners, producing an upholstery piece that may not last.
If you feel totally stumped, you can rely on Kovi Fabrics to recommend a reputable upholsterer we have worked with before, which will give you the most peace of mind.
Considerations for Reupholstering Your Furniture
You may want to reupholster a furniture piece for several reasons:
- It’s an expensive piece
Good furniture can be really costly. If you own a great quality and a rather expensive furniture item or set, you may want to keep that quality but give it a new look with fresh upholstery. It may be a quality unit that has some surface damage to the existing upholstery, so you plan on reupholstering it.
For whichever reason, you want to keep this furniture, so you look at reupholstering it. Doing so will be an investment in maintaining the quality and look of your expensive and hardy furniture with some fresh custom upholstery near me.
- It’s a family heirloom
Sentimental reasons may prompt you to reupholster a dated furniture piece. Your family heirloom may not be the very best quality, but you don’t want to throw it out yet. So you give your sofa or wingback chairs a facelift with some fresh upholstery.
With this consideration, there may be some problems. Reupholstering is not cheap. Labor alone for upholstering a sofa can run up several hundred dollars. Spending that when the furniture item is no longer in a great condition or is lacking in real financial value may be ill-advised.
- It’s really comfortable
Some furniture pieces are really comfortable. Your comfy couch or lounging LazyBoy may be the best seat in the house, but you still need to consider whether reupholstering the item is worth it. Comfort can only last so long before the individual pocketed springs start to protest.
- You don’t have the money to buy new
You may consider reupholstering an old furniture piece since your current furniture has become a sore eye, but you don’t have the money for a complete upholstery project. So you consider reupholstery, hoping to bring the cost down.
Depending on the kind of upholstery work required, what repairs are needed on the furniture item, and the final labor fee, you may find reupholstering as expensive, if not more so, than full upholstery or purchasing a new furniture item.
- You want to make it fit with your existing furniture
You buy a great sofa, only to realize it is a completely different shade of blue than the rest of your early French-era furniture’s upholstery. Reupholstery can save the day, matching the new upholstery perfectly or choosing an entirely new upholstery material to create an accent point. This allows you to fit the new sofa into your current decor style perfectly without having to change all the other furniture.
You can consider a full reupholstery project or even opt for a slipcover or sofa drape to make things match better.
- You want to protect it
Light-colored upholstery with small children or pets in the house is a bad idea. Yet, you are now stuck with that expensive lounge suite you bought in all-white linen fabric. The simple answer is to order custom slipcovers for this unit, saving it from stains and damage until your pets have learned “floor” and your kids are old enough to understand “feet off the sofa.”
Now you know why you are upholstering your furniture, you are ready to meet your industry professionals and make your hiring decision.
Additional Costs You May Incur for a Quality Custom Upholstery Near Me Project
You’ve picked your upholsterer and purchased your fabric, but now you suddenly receive some additional charges on your quotation. What’s that all about?
In addition to your labor and fabric, you may also have the following expenses to produce a quality reupholstery job:
Your upholsterer may charge you a delivery and collection fee for moving your furniture piece to and from your home. This is standard practice, and the amount will depend on the distance from your home to their shop. You can negate this cost by asking a friend with a pickup if they can help or negotiate for more work if delivery costs are waived.
- Replacing Stuffing, Springs, and Padding
Over time, your furniture’s padding takes a knock, and that butt groove Homer Simpson’s been making in your sofa needs to be filled in. Springs also lose their tension, and this means the seats don’t bounce back into shape as quickly (or at all), so these need replacement. These things all cost extra, and your upholsterer can only tell you about these costs once they have opened your furniture piece.
Once the sofa or chair has been stripped of its upholstery, there may be other damage that needs repair such as broken corner joints, frame damage, and separation of sections. It’s a risk to reupholster as your furniture item may not always be in as good a state as you imagine once the old upholstery is stripped off. Repairing damage can cost a lot.
While you may purchase the fabric, you may forget to purchase trim such as nailhead trim, gimp, and other edgings that are needed to upholster your piece. Usually, the upholsterer will use their own trim for the upholstery process, billing you for this. Be sure to negotiate on the price for this before you start the upholstery project.
Once your upholsterer opens your furniture, they may find your chair or sofa has such severe damage to parts that they need to replace whole sections of the frame, legs, or back. This can be costly, and replacing one leg is not always an option, necessitating the replacement of the whole set.
These additional costs can run up quite a price, so it may be worth it to ask the upholsterer to open a section of your furniture item and give you a quick estimate before you purchase fabric and book your upholstery project. Sometimes, the reupholstery project is simply not worth it if your furniture item is too damaged or of lesser quality.
This doesn’t mean you need to throw away your furniture upholstery dreams. You can simply look at alternative options such as a slipcover until you are ready to purchase a new piece of furniture or bite the bullet and pay for the full reupholstery project.
The Final Wrap
Now you know a little bit more about your search for “custom upholstery near me,” be sure to weigh up the pros and cons of upholstery vs new furniture and slipcovers vs full reupholstery. If you feel unsure, Kovi Fabrics have expert consultants to help you all the way.