New Upholstery Vs Reupholstery: Which Is Best?

There is something magical about a brand spanking new furniture set. Soft, sink-into upholstery with great quality fabric and excellent trimmings can really be a dream for your home. Yet, new upholstered furniture is usually a lot more expensive than reupholstering your existing furniture. 

There are other considerations, which you may not be aware of when you scrutinize a seemingly high reupholstery quote, to keep in mind too. So which is best? To buy new or reupholster your current furniture? Let’s find out.

New Upholstered Furniture: Pros and Cons

New furniture always has that X factor. We get used to the furniture we have, and the idea of investing in a new furniture set is thrilling. It can also be really expensive. Let’s take a closer look.

Pros of New Upholstered Furniture 

  • New furniture can be of high quality, offering good service, excellent tailoring, and great design. Yet, the padding of some upholstery pieces may not hold up to long-term use, and while they may feel soft, they may also not last. 
  • New furniture can change the whole look of your home with one purchase.
  • You get to see the whole look before making a purchase, though new upholstery comes in a limited range of designs and styles.

Cons of New Upholstered Furniture 

  • New upholstery is often not entirely the shade or design you would have wanted.
  • With a new furniture item, the quality of the piece may be questionable as newer styles often use pressed wood instead of solid wood for the frames, and these furniture items aren’t built to last.
  • The furniture item hasn’t proven itself yet. 
  • The comfort of the piece isn’t tested yet, so you don’t quite know if you will like it after sitting in it for three hours. 
  • New furniture items may be much more expensive than reupholstering your existing furniture. 

While new upholstered furniture is instant gratification, reupholstering old furniture is a labor of love. Reupholstering furniture comes with a host of unusual pros you may not have thought about.

Reupholstered Furniture: Pros and Cons

Reupholstery can take two forms: removing the old upholstery and adding stuffing to rebalance the seats and worn armrests if the upholstery is of a good enough quality, and removing and discarding the old upholstery for an entirely new look with new upholstery and padding. 

Pros of Reupholstering Your Old Furniture

  • Endless choices of fabric, colors, designs, and patterns are available to choose from.
  • Existing furniture has proven to be strong and resilient. 
  • Older furniture items may be better constructed with genuine hardwood frames and custom legs and armrests. 
  • The joints may be of better quality with fewer repairs needed to reupholster. 
  • Simply adding padding to upholstery that is still in good condition can give the existing furniture a second life at a low price.
  • Can be done yourself if you have the time, but it may also require professional services if your skills are limited.
  • Reupholstering an older designer set may cost less than buying a similar quality new furniture set, but it may also be more expensive than a slightly lesser quality set.

Cons of Reupholstering Your Old Furniture

  • Furniture needs to be transported to the upholstery shop and back again, which is an additional cost. 
  • Repairs may be needed to armrests, chair legs, springs, baseboards, and more, which also costs more.
  • Old furniture may have a bug infestation that would need remediation.
  • Additional padding is required to improve seat quality as seats are worn down.

How to Decide Whether You Should Get a New Furniture Set or Reupholster Your Old One

It can be really tough to decide whether it’s worth the cost of purchasing a brand new furniture set when you really like your old one. The popular myth is that reupholstery is cheaper than buying a new set. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

While there are cheap new lounge sets, dining room sets, and sofa sets available, these are often of inferior quality to the set you purchased a decade ago. Reupholstery costs can also be much more expensive as you never quite know what you will pay until your old furniture has been opened up. 

Once the furniture has been “uncovered” by the upholsterer, there may be internal damage such as rusted springs, worn-out padding, broken baffles, and cracked frames. These all require replacement or repair, which costs extra. 

So for an old furniture set, consider these things when deciding whether to sell off or reupholster:

  • Is the furniture a quality piece with a brand name and hardwood frames?
  • Are there visible signs of damage to the furniture itself?
  • What are the initial figures for the reupholstery bill, including upholstery fabric?
  • Is this a quote you can afford? Can you afford an additional 10-15% if there is internal damage? 
  • Will the reupholstered piece with custom-picked upholstery fabric fit your home better than a new furniture set?
  • Is this a comfortable design that you enjoy sitting in? (There’s no point in reupholstering furniture that’s uncomfortable.)

Reupholstery Vs New Furniture FAQs

Is it worth reupholstering furniture?

When your old furniture is quality and shows little sign of damage, you can absolutely invest in reupholstering your furniture set. Broken or damaged furniture will cost more to reupholster, which can end up making the set much more expensive than a new set. 

Is reupholstering furniture cheaper than buying new?

Considering there may be hidden costs in reupholstering old furniture that has broken frames and sections, there is little difference between the cost of reupholstering your old furniture pieces and buying a new furniture set. 

How much does it cost to reupholster a large armchair?

Knowing what the going rate is on reupholstering furniture is an average of $40 per hour of labor, excluding all other costs, it is clear that reupholstery can be quite expensive. Repairs take longer than simply reupholstering. So, a large armchair may cost $800-$2,000.

What’s the average life of a sofa?

On average, a quality sofa will remain functional for 7-15 years, depending on how much use the furniture items get. Reupholstery will extend the lifespan of the sofa by several years, depending on whether the padding and springs are replaced too. 

Finally, Which Is Best: New Furniture or Reupholstered Old Furniture?

The verdict of which is best depends on your budget, taste, and the old furniture items. If you can afford a better quality new furniture set, then it’s a no-brainer decision. However, if you don’t have a massive budget, then reupholstering your existing furniture can be a real winner. For those on a shoestring budget, reupholstery may not be an option, but you can definitely consider slipcovers to give that old chair or sofa a second life.

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