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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Joan-eh? on January 09, 2019, 05:28:29 PM

Title: reupholster furniture $$$
Post by: Joan-eh? on January 09, 2019, 05:28:29 PM
Hello and Help!!

I have 3 antique chairs and a sofa that are between 75-100 years old - excellent quality - solid construction and timeless.  I've had them my adult life since 1985. I reupholster ever 15 years or so. They are again due from wear and tear. I had an upholsterer at my home today to give me an estimate. 10,000 CAD (7500USD) plus 15% tax.  YIKES!!!!

They really do need new material and the frame on the sofa needs fixing.   
Ive gone online to see if I could actually do this myself - but I think this really is a task that requires skill.

How does a MMM handle this situation?
Title: Re: reupholster furniture $$$
Post by: sailinlight on January 09, 2019, 06:56:18 PM
Get a couch cover
Title: Re: reupholster furniture $$$
Post by: happyfeet on January 09, 2019, 07:04:59 PM
If you can do brass tacks and nail the upholstery in - you can do it.  It won't look as good as a professional.  Maybe shop around.  Price seems high.  But a lot of new furniture is crap these days and does not hold up.  I have chairs that are 80 years old we still use.

Title: Re: reupholster furniture $$$
Post by: J Boogie on January 10, 2019, 11:05:24 AM
Sounds like the cost of ownership on this furniture is too high.

I think it's probably like owning an old mansion (on a smaller scale) in terms of financial sense. It's valuable and possibly worthwhile, but it's got be really really meaningful to you for it to be worth the cost of ownership.

If maintaining this old furniture is a passion of yours, learn how to do it. If it's not, sell it. Replace it with furniture that doesn't require expensive maintenance. There's plenty of great non-upholstered furniture out there in the world. Need softness or comfort? Put a sheep pelt on a solid wood lounge chair. Put a daybed where your couch was.

Title: Re: reupholster furniture $$$
Post by: KCM5 on January 10, 2019, 11:49:39 AM
So youve had them reupholstered before - how much did it cost 15 years ago? Im mostly curious because I was always under the impression that having something reupholstered was outrageously expensive.

I think a slipcover might be the way to go, but im not judging if you want to get them reupholstered or do it youre self. I think slipcovers are usually ugly. Buy very high quality fabric - 15 years seems too short of time? I have a pair of sofas that were recovered in the 70s with high quality fabric and they honestly still look fantastic. Admittedly, they probably werent heavily used before we bought them a decade ago.  It theyre our main sofas now and were not particularly easy on them.
Title: Re: reupholster furniture $$$
Post by: socaso on January 10, 2019, 11:57:11 AM
Maybe get another estimate? Also what part of that quote is the labor and what is the fabric? If the biggest part of the cost is the fabric look around for something less expensive.

Also maybe check out some Youtube videos about upholstering and see if you can do some or all of it yourself. Some styles of chair don't even require any sewing to upholster.
Title: Re: reupholster furniture $$$
Post by: AMandM on January 10, 2019, 12:07:13 PM
Upholstering is expensive. For one thing, the fabric is expensive, especially if you want something higher-grade than you can get at the local Jo-Ann's.  For another, it's a relatively rare skillset and the buyers are usually pretty well-off, so the market rate is high. Finally, as I discovered when I looked into it, there's a lot more work involved than meets the eye.  It's not just a matter of taking off the old fabric and replacing it; there's strapping, and springs, and the springs have to be tied together, and there are about 3-4 different kinds of padding that have to be in the right ratios and the right locations.

I also looked into an upholstery class.  Several hundred dollars to learn to upholster a simple stool!  But it would have been worth it to learn the techniques needed to preserve precious antiques.

The chair I was dealing with was not special to me, so I gave it a totally amateur DIY reupholstery job (without taking the class) using fabric I had on hand. It looked fine, but the padding really wasn't as comfortable as I wanted. After a few years, the new fabric wore through because it turns I didn't pad the frame correctly to keep it from eroding the fabric.

Having said all that, $10,000 seems awfully high. Can you get a second estimate?
Title: Re: reupholster furniture $$$
Post by: Cgbg on January 10, 2019, 04:05:01 PM
Its probably been about 15 years since we upholstered our two antique reclining steamer chairs. They were stuffed with horse hair. Anyway, I hauled one of the chairs to three different upholsterers and was shocked by the wide variety of costs.

I ended up calling a local furniture store that builds furniture from raw wood using old style techniques. Weve bought several pieces from them over the years and I knew that they had a few pieces in their catalog that were upholstered. They were happy to share the name of their upholsterer with me and the cost was much less than any of the other places Id checked. Just a thought- something to try if you have a similar company around you.

Edited to add: I supplied the fabric to the shop. That meant I could wait for the fabric to go on sale. The shop estimated how much Id need.
Title: Re: reupholster furniture $$$
Post by: Firehazard on January 15, 2019, 09:35:50 PM
You might try your hand at DIY upholstery by picking up a cheap piece of used or free furniture and some inexpensive fabric to practice on.  Get some books at the library or watch some you-tube videos. 

I did a sofa many years ago just by taking the fabric pieces off in reverse order, labeling and numbering the pieces and then using them as patterns for the new fabric.  Actually turned out very well, but didn't last because I didn't use an upholstery grade fabric.  I used quilting fabric because it was cheap and I was broke. And too young and dumb to know better.
Title: Re: reupholster furniture $$$
Post by: AMandM on January 16, 2019, 07:44:07 AM
Actually turned out very well, but didn't last because I didn't use an upholstery grade fabric.  I used quilting fabric because it was cheap and I was broke. And too young and dumb to know better.

I have seen a post by a professional designer who early in her career had to have a client's living room furniture re-upholstered a few months after the job was finished. She hadn't known that some fabrics (linen, I think), even if they are upholstery fabrics, have to have a knit backing applied before they are put on, and the linen had shredded.