When Does it Make Sense to Reupholster Your Old Chairs?

If you have chairs in need of a facelift, you may be wondering if it makes sense to have them reupholstered or just replaced. The answer to that question is – it depends. There are times it makes sense to give those chairs a new look by reupholstering and there are other times it’s just not worth it.

There are 10 important issues to consider before you choose between reupholstering and replacing those old chairs at home or in the office: 

  1. Is the chair frame still in style? Some chairs “ugly out” long before they wear out. Take an honest look at the style and make sure it’s something you’ll want in your home or office 5 or 10 years from now.
  2. Be sure the frame is still solid. A good way to test this is to put one knee on the seat while grabbing each arm on the chair. Now lean in and place pressure on the top of the chair arms with your palms. Alternate this pressure from left to right and see if you feel any give in the “bones” or frame of the chair. Give in the frame is called “racking” and is a sign the chair is likely nearing the end of its life cycle. A chair that racks can also be a safety/liability issue.
  3. If your chairs are office or desk chairs, be sure to find out if they were designed to be reupholstered. Steelcase and several other popular office furniture manufacturers design chairs with thermally bonded fabric which makes reupholstering virtually impossible.
  4. Before you make a final decision, price out new chairs in a similar style. This will give you something to compare to the cost of reupholstering.
  5. Determine the amount of fabric you’ll need to recover each chair. If you’re not sure, ask your upholsterer or furniture dealer. If they can’t help, send us an image of your chair and we’ll help you.
  6. Select a fabric you like for recovering. There are hundreds of fabrics available. An interior designer, commercial furniture dealer or upholsterer should be able to provide you with samples and even assist you in making a selection.
  7. Multiply the net cost of your fabric (don’t forget shipping cost to the upholsterer) times the total number of square yards required to recover your chairs.
  8. Get a quote from the upholsterer for the labor to recover the chairs. Make sure he includes pick up and re-delivery.
  9. If your chairs are in an office environment, but sure to choose a fabric with at least a 30,000 double rub rating. The Wyzenbeek test is a generally accepted method for determining the durability of fabrics. The higher the double rub count, the more durable the fabric will be.  
  10. Consider the environment before replacing your old chairs. Very few chairs can be recycled. Consider donating your old chairs to a local organization that redistributes unwanted furniture to those in need. 

We hope these questions help you make the choice that’s right for you and your organization. If you need a hand or would just like to have a second opinion,  send us an email or give us a call.

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