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We Asked an Expert: How Much Does It Really Cost To Reupholster a Couch?

If your sofa has seen better days, it might be time for a refresh.

<p>Nadia Cruzova/Getty Images</p>

Nadia Cruzova/Getty Images

After years of serving as your go-to spot for binge-watching Netflix and cozying up with a good book, your couch might be looking a little... tired. (Add to that some scratch marks from your pet and a couple of mysterious stains for even more signs that it’s time for something new.) But buying a brand-new couch would not only be an expensive solution, it's a somber one—giving up the comforts of your favorite sofa feels like a crime against coziness.

That’s where reupholstering comes in. Choosing to reupholster a couch comes with a slew of advantages, namely extending the lifespan of your existing couch. The ability to choose from hundreds of fabric styles and textures creates plenty of opportunity for customization, whether you’re trying to maintain the look of your old sofa or you want something completely new.

Calculating how much this could cost depends on a variety of factors, though in many cases, it’ll still be cheaper than springing for a brand-new sofa. Ahead, find out what you need to know before reupholstering your couch.



Meet Our Expert

Pete Faris, Owner of Pistol Pete’s Upholstery in Yarmouth, Maine



Related: How to Clean a Couch So It Lasts Forever

What Affects the Price of Reupholstering a Couch

Fabric Type

Quite a few factors impact the cost of reupholstering a couch. One of the main variables is fabric, specifically the quality of it and how much is needed for the job. Common fabrics used in reupholstery include cotton, linen, wool, leather, polyester, and nylon. Synthetic materials like polyester and nylon are typically more affordable than natural materials.

Pete Faris, owner of Pistol Pete’s Upholstery in Yarmouth, Maine, cautions to be careful when choosing lower-priced materials. “With fabric, you often get what you pay for,” Faris notes. “The best upholstery job in the world with cheap fabric runs the risk of resulting in a cheap or unsatisfactory-looking upholstery job.”

Size and Shape

The size, shape, and complexity of your couch come next. Features like skirts around the bottom, piping accents, visible stitches, decorative nailheads, and tufting detail with (or without) buttons will incur an upcharge.

Similarly, the types of cushions and padding will play a role in the fee and final product. Are you adding more stuffing into sagging cushions? Are you preserving the tight seats and back that have served you well for so long? Naturally, any additional features or customization options will also add lines to your invoice.

Sofa Condition

The sofa’s condition will also impact the price of reupholstering it: Its age and quality are important factors. The newer the piece, the less time and effort will be needed to improve its interior structure. “Quality furniture, both young and old, tends to be designed and built with reupholstery in mind,” Faris says. “If the desired piece to be reupholstered was of a higher quality when manufactured, then the prospects are good for a straightforward new upholstery job.”

But if the condition of the sofa is poor, despite its original construction, more dollar signs will be added to the final cost. “If joints have loosened and the springs are falling out of the bottom, more time is needed to bring these components back in line,” he adds. “Most upholsterers will give an original estimate, with the caveat that things might change once they get in there.”

Labor

The largest indicator of price will likely be labor, explains Faris. “Upholstery is a very labor-driven business, so generally speaking, the more pieces of upholstery, the more details, the bigger the size—all of these will drive the price upward,” he says.

Related: 10 Sofa Styles to Know—Plus How to Choose the Right Couch for You

How Much It Costs to Reupholster a Couch

With all of these factors in mind, the average cost range for reupholstering a couch is quite wide. According to Revolution Fabrics, sofas can cost between $400 and $4,500 to reupholster, with the typical job coming in at around $1,800. Data from Angi confirms this range, suggesting that sofas cost between $600 to $4,000.

Faris points out that location really matters and is a major reason for the broad price range. “I’ve found that prices vary quite a bit throughout the country, and can be significantly impacted by the cost of living in a given area,” he says.

He gave rough estimates for what his own business would charge—a sofa would generally cost between $2,000 and $2,400 for labor, plus the cost of fabric. According to Faris, the average sofa requires around 16 yards, and this is where the quality of the fabric (and its price) dramatically impact the project fee. For a sofa being reupholstered with fabric that’s $125 per yard, the cost of fabric alone would come out to $2,000. But for one with fabric that’s $45 per yard, the cost is $720.

How to Save Money on Reupholstering a Couch

Though each additional intricacy may increase the price of a couch reupholstery job, there are ways to reduce the cost without compromising on quality.

Get Quality Fabric at a Discount

Finding affordable fabric is one of the most impactful ways to save money—though it’s imperative to ensure you’re finding quality fabric at a discount. Faris recommends perusing discontinued bolts of fabric that often sell for less.

Mix Up Fabric Types

You can also opt to use two different fabrics on your couch: one for aesthetics and one for practicality. “Using a higher-priced fabric with a cool design for the front and cushions of a piece, while using a coordinated solid (and probably much less expensive) fabric on the back will look intentional and feature the design of the fabric in front, all the while saving some money in the process,” Faris says.

Cut Back on Details

In that vein, customers can eliminate original details from their sofas, too. Ask to nix features like skirts and piping to save money, or get rid of three separate cushions in favor of one large cushion. You can add some decorative elements back onto your sofa yourself, notes KOVI Fabrics, if you have the design know-how. When you decide it’s worth it to reupholster your couch, there are myriad ways to negotiate a job and price that makes sense for you. 

Related: How to Arrange Your Living Room, According to the Pros

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