Upholstery tools

The Benefits of Reupholstery

The subject of reupholstery is a huge one and choosing whether to reupholster can be made for many different reasons.

Over the past few years, the subject has seen somewhat of a revival, partly due to several TV programs using upholsters to renovate items using traditional techniques – with the finished products being wonderfully distinctive furniture that you certainly couldn’t buy on the high street. 

We have found over the years the subject can be almost split in half 

1/ Small items such as chairs. Many people choose to revive a precious family heirloom or have picked up a spectacular original mid-century modern Danish piece.  

2/ Sofas. People tend to approach sofas in a totally different way. A good quality sofa can be a costly piece of furniture and takes up a lot of space in the home, whilst getting used daily. This is where people tend to get more serious over price and practicality. 

Is my furniture worth reupholstering?

In today’s world of imported furniture this is a fair question. There is less quality furniture being produced in Britain than ever before and many good manufactures have gone to the wall. However, if you are lucky enough to be the owner of an old famous brand like Duresta, Sankey or Ercol then you can be sure it is exceptionally well built and will be well worth reupholstering. If, however, you are not that lucky then it’s worth taking some advice, or at least doing your own inspection.

What to look for when inspecting a piece of furniture 

The frame is all important and quality furniture manufacturers will use beech (or similar) to make their frames, this makes for an excellent foundation to be built on. Check for movement in the arms, and whilst this doesn’t always have to indicate a disaster, it might be an indication that the quality isn’t so great. 

Chair reupholstery

To find out if your furniture is built from solid hardwood, turn it upside down and pull out a few staples from the bottom layer of fabric covering the base. Peel a little of the fabric back and the frame should be exposed. If you see chipboard then it’s usually a no, no. But if you find a solid hardwood then you are good to go. Even if you find some movement in the frame, it could well be possible to rectify once the fabric is stripped back. 

Is it cheaper to reupholster?

There isn’t a straight answer for this, it depends on what work will be done and which fabric you select. Buying a quality new sofa from a retailer isn’t going to be cheap and, in most cases, you will not be buying direct from the maker. There are factors to consider with reupholstery too, such as the fabric and any accessories you choose. Upholstery is a time served craft and so good quality Upholsterers are not going to be a fast, cheap fix. 

An option for many people is to purchase a particularly well made and solid used sofa and have it recovered. You will certainly save thousands if you came across a Duresta or Sankey, whilst being the proud owner of a seriously high-quality piece of furniture which will likely last a lifetime. 

Advantages of reupholstery

There are many… 

Shopping local

Most Towns will have a local Upholsterer, and if not, a neighboring Town will certainly have one. Using a local Upholsterer, rather than buying new imported furniture, is a real benefit to communities. Shopping local pumps money back into communities and helps to grow jobs for local people. Helping to increase local jobs can have real advantages, particularly for younger disadvantaged people. This in turn creates a much better community for everyone as local businesses generate income, which supports parks, libraries and other local public services.  A thriving local economy can really help grow a local community to the benefit of all, as people socialize and spend more time out and about with neighbors. And, importantly and more so than ever, smaller businesses need as much support as they can get – shopping local is at the heart of this. 

Chair during reupholstery

Creating bespoke one off pieces of furniture

This is the beauty of reupholstery. You will be custom designing your very own piece of bespoke one-off furniture. Not only will your fabric combination be unique to you, but you can also opt for contrasting piping, new deep buttoning or even patterned fabrics mixed with plain seat cushions to make it truly distinctive.

Sustainability and recycling 

It is estimated that £6 billion pounds worth of furniture was imported into the United Kingdom in 2020. Whilst we are all thinking more about our environmental impact, it’s worth pausing for a moment to consider the journey that such furniture took to reach our shores – environmentally unfriendly methods of transport with high levels of pollution, deforestation from mass produced furniture and poor working practices as Countries compete in the market. Problems continue at the end of the life of cheap and fast furniture with landfills and incinerators. Reupholstery is an ideal choice for those of us concerned about our environmental footprint. Together, with our collections of recycled, recyclable and renewable fabrics, you really can make a difference by choosing reupholstery as a sustainable option. See our sustainable fabrics here.

Keep and renovate what you already love

If you absolutely love what you currently have but are disheartened by saggy cushions and tired fabric, reupholstery is a great choice. You already know you love it; you know its comfy; you already know it fits perfectly in your house… the logical next step is giving your beloved furniture a new lease of life by reupholstering it. 

Chair before reupholstery

Reupholstery process

The first, and most important part, of reupholstering is to find a quality Upholsterer. Ask around, have your friends or neighbours recently had work done? Internet searches and social media sites are a great place to look. Do also check out any available reviews on-line. Once you find a potential Upholsterer ask to see if you can see any past work. Find out if they have a particular specialism and whether this is what you are looking for i.e. do you need someone who has experience of antiques, or are you looking for someone to recover a huge corner group. 

Next you need to determine the amount of fabric to buy. Whilst we offer a very rough guide in our FAQ’s, you should always take advice from your Upholsterer. The amount of fabric you will need depends on the design of the fabric. A plain flat weave cloth or short pile velvet will be relatively easy to measure for. If it’s a large patterned floral fabric, you are going to need more as there will be joins to consider. Getting the right fabric for your furniture is just as important as finding a quality Upholsterer. Give some thought for what type of performance you need. You can use our fabric finder here to help refine your search and choose options such as cleaning, sustainability, uses and more….. spend some time looking at our fabric pages which provides a good overview of different fabrics such as velvets, chenilles, boucles, wools and linens. 

Once you’ve purchased your beautiful Weave fabric, and have a date booked in with your Upholsterer, here is an idea of what comes next. 

Chair after reupholstery

All the fabric should be removed. Do ask to see a picture of it stripped, you’d be amazed at how many times we’ve seen shoddy workmanship covering over old fabric with new. This is important as only once a piece is fully stripped can a full inspection take place. With the fabric removed the frame can be thoroughly examined with the opportunity to fix any of those weak joints that we mentioned earlier. 

Once the stripping and repairs have finished, the rebuild will begin. Using foam, or horsehair and wadding if its traditional upholstery, the frame will be layered to build up a soft boundary between the frame and the fabric. 

The last stage is what we like to call the glory job. Fitting the fabric to the frame. In many cases your old fabric will be used as a rough template to cut new patterns, bearing in mind the fabric may be sagging and misshapen if it’s a particularly old piece, and so a lot comes down to knowledge and experience. Finally, if required, new cushions will be cut to size and fitted. 

We’re lucky here at Weave to have our very own furniture and upholstery expert, Ewan. Drop him an email at hello@weavefabrics.com if you want to chat through your ideas before making your final selections. Ewan is on hand to give information and advice and has spent decades in the industry, and plus he absolutely loves a good natter about all things furniture!