How to Know If a Sofa Is Worth Reupholstering

If you like the style of your sofa but the upholstery is worn or outdated, you might consider reupholstering instead of buying new.

Quality of Construction

New upholstery can give a tired, worn-out sofa a fresh new look.New upholstery can give a tired, worn-out sofa a fresh new look.
Before you run out and purchase new fabric for your project, consider whether it is worth the time, effort and money to reupholster the sofa.

If you need a sofa that can withstand heavy use, you want to make sure that your sofa has been constructed properly. If the sofa has loose bottom cushions, remove them and check the decking and springs. Quality sofas have coiled springs that are held in place with an eight-way tie system. Inexpensive sofas have a heavy-duty foam pad in place of springs. Slightly better sofas have S-shaped springs. These are fine if the sofa isn’t used often, but they put extra pressure on the frame, which can cause it to crack.

Next, tip the sofa over on its back so you can see the bottom. A quality frame is constructed of hardwood and screwed and glued together. A low-quality frame is made of pine and is usually stapled or nailed together. See if the frame is intact and doesn’t require repair.

Check the legs of the sofa to see if they are in good condition, and note if they unscrew from the frame (this makes it easier for reupholstery, if you’re doing the job yourself). If the legs need to be replaced, price new ones before deciding to reupholster the sofa.

You won’t want to reupholster a sofa that has damaged springs, a damaged or poorly constructed frame or broken legs if your budget is a concern; these items will add considerably to the cost.

Labor Time and Cost

Look closely at the details of the sofa. If it has a lot of tucks, pleats, cording or detail, it will take more time and be more difficult to reupholster. If you are doing the job yourself, you need the skill to handle the detail work involved. A professional will charge more for a detailed reupholstering job, because it is more time-intensive.

Obtain estimates from reupholstering professionals if you don’t plan to do the work yourself. You might find that the cost of reupholstering in the fabric you want exceeds the cost of a new sofa.


The sofa you want to reupholster could have more value than its actual worth. If it is a family heirloom or has special meaning to you, the cost or difficulty of the job might not matter. In this case, base your decision on your desire to keep and showcase the sofa. If the sofa is valuable, take it to a professional for reupholstering.

Environmentally Friendly Choices

When you reupholster your sofa rather than buying new, you keep it out of the landfill. If you decide that it’s not worth it to reupholster the sofa, find an alternative to throwing it away. Donate it to a local charity thrift store, or sell it locally online.

About the Author

Cate Rushton has been a freelance writer since 1999, specializing in wildlife and outdoor activities. Her published works also cover relationships, gardening and travel on various websites. Rushton holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.