As the beating heart of a living room, a sofa can make or break your space. But if you’re looking to breathe new life into your lounge, you might be wondering how the cost of reupholstering a sofa compares to buying a brand-new one.
While there’s no doubt that the best sofas can bring your living room ideas to life, buying new doesn’t suit everyone. Reupholstering a sofa can transform old, second-hand, or antique furniture with a slight change of fabric, allowing you to tailor your sofa to your own personal design aesthetic. But in a world of rising furniture prices and tightened purse strings, the cost of reupholstering a sofa, versus buying a shiny new sofa needs to be considered.
That’s why we’ve consulted with the experts to understand how much it costs to reupholster a sofa vs buying a new one. Plus, we've outlined some of the pros and cons of both to help you decide which is better for your sofa AND your budget.
The cost to reupholster a sofa vs buying a new sofa
Reupholstering a sofa sounds like hard work, but if you find the right person for the job, it can bring your idea of the dream sofa to life. But how does reupholstering compare to buying a new sofa outright? Below, we’ve got all of the figures you need to know.
How much it costs to reupholster a sofa
Knowing how much it costs to reupholster a sofa is something you need to consider if you’re looking for a way to switch up your sofa style. After all, you want to make sure it’s worth it.
The exact price of reupholstering a sofa is dependent on the size, shape, age of the furniture (for example, it might be antique and need extra care and attention) and your fabric choice. On average, though, you should be able to reupholster an old sofa for less than £1,000.
'Providing your existing sofa is in good condition, reupholstering it is a fantastic way to give a new lease of life to an outdated but much-loved sofa,' says Jen Choate, co-founder of Interior Fox.
'You could usually expect a task of this size to cost approximately £600 plus the fabric. It’s a great option for preserving quality furniture and doing your part to prevent household items from ending up in landfill. If the sofa is a little lacklustre, then new fabric and some extra stuffing could bring it right back up to date.'
If you’re considering buying second-hand furniture, however, you should also factor in how much it will cost you to buy the sofa on top of the reupholstering cost - and what condition that sofa is in.
Margaret Larson, from Sustainable Furniture explains, ‘The frame of the sofa must be strong and intact to ensure that the sofa will be long lasting, as there is no point replacing the fabric if the internal structure of the sofa is weak. You also must be 100% sure about the style of the sofa you want to be reupholstered, as it is pointless spending money on improving a piece of furniture that you may not fit perfectly within your home in years to come.’
Of course, if you’re weighing up whether to reupholster a sofa or buy a new sofa, knowing the benefits of reupholstering can also help sway you in the reupholstering direction. So, here’s a few to consider:
Damaged features can also be upgraded: If your sofa is struggling with some general wear and tear, broken springs, or misshapen foam, you may find an upholsterer that will also replace these damaged features. This may cost you a bit more, but it will pay off in the long run as your sofa will remain in tip-top condition and last much longer.
You can keep sentimental furniture: Sofas are often passed down from generation to generation, and if you have a sentimental sofa from your grandmother you can’t bear to part with, reupholstering can breathe new life into the old sofa and keep it in the family.
It’s convenient: Sarah Page at Plumbs explains, ‘Typically, furniture frames that were made ten to fifteen years ago are generally better quality, so you can guarantee it’ll last. You also know that the furniture you already have fits perfectly in your home, so with reupholstery, you needn’t worry about measuring up for a sofa, or squeezing in a new piece.'
It’ll be exactly what you want: Sometimes, money can’t buy what you want. And if you’ve been dreaming of a sofa that you just can’t find in-store or online, reupholstering an old sofa may be the only way to bring that dream to life. And you can’t put a price on that.
How much it costs to buy a new sofa
Finding where to buy a sofa is easy, but so is finding one that suits your budget. That’s because sofas come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. From the wide range of sofas that the Ideal Home team has tested, we’ve encountered sofas ranging from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand.
Because of this, it’s hard to put an exact price on how much it costs to buy a new sofa, as it ultimately depends on numerous factors.
For example, the Habitat Julien Sofa has taken the crown as the ‘best budget sofa’ in our guide to the best sofas. At just £595 (when it’s not on sale for less), it’s the perfect option for those who want a stylish 2-seater sofa with six colourway options.
Its small size wouldn’t suit you if you're a large family and love to snuggle up on the sofa, though. Instead, the perfect sofa for you might be the Swyft Model 03 Sofa, which retails at £795 for the smallest section of the sofa.
This is a modular sofa that allows you to configure the layout to suit your living room and your seating requirements and is perfect for families.
In general, though, you can expect to pay between £1,000 and £3,000 for a good-quality sofa. And remember that if you’re looking for a bargain, our sofa deals page is constantly updated with the best bargains in the business.
But why should you buy a new sofa rather than reupholster an old one? Well, apart from having something shiny and new in your living room, there are some pros you should consider:
It’ll be comfortable: Unfortunately, sofas aren’t invincible, and there are many signs it’s time to buy a new sofa. And when that time comes, buying a new and improved version will allow you to ditch a lumpy and uncomfortable sofa in favour of a comfortable sofa that suits your sitting style perfectly.
It’ll have a longer lifespan: In most cases, your new sofa will last longer than reupholstering an old one. A good-quality sofa can last anywhere between 7 to 15 years, and if you’re reupholstering a poor-quality sofa that’s already a few years old, you won’t have as much time with it before it needs replacing. Dani Burroughs, Head of Product at Snug, says, 'A quality sofa with a rub count of 40,000 will last you a very good amount of time before needing replacing or updating.'
You can change the size: Has your family expanded? Have your adult kids flown the nest? Have you moved house? Buying a new sofa is a great option for those who want to change the size of their sofa, which isn’t something you can do when you choose to reupholster your old sofa. You can go bigger or smaller, and you can even change the shape by switching from a regular 3-seater to a corner sofa.
You have protection: Dani says, 'New sofas often come with warranties, providing protection against manufacturing defects and giving you peace of mind.' This is something you don't get when you reupholster an old sofa.
Which one should you choose?
The reupholstering an old sofa vs buying a new sofa debate is a tough one, as ultimately there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer.
In terms of price, reupholstering an old sofa is the same price as some of the cheapest sofas on the market - but much cheaper than buying a more expensive, high-quality sofa. Because of this, it’s important to weigh up your budget and what you want from your sofa.
In terms of design choice, reupholstering an old sofa is a great option for those who have a design idea in their minds but know that buying a brand-new sofa similar to their idea would cost them a fortune. By reupholstering, you can use what you already have to cut the cost and still bring your dream sofa to life.
In terms of comfort, size, and convenience, reupholstering an old sofa is ideal for those who have a high-quality piece of furniture that fits perfectly in their home. However, buying a new sofa is generally considered to be the best option for those who have an old sofa and need to switch up the size to suit a changing family and home.
Of course, you could also find a happy medium between the two if you’re craving a design change. Many sofa brands now give you the option to buy a sofa with custom fabrics, allowing you to embrace the comfortability of a new sofa while also tailoring the fabric and the colours to your own style - and your living room decor.
This means that if you fall in love with a fabric you love that’s not in Sofa.com’s selection, you can ask them to use that instead.
Although this isn’t a common practice in the sofa industry, it’s certainly an option for those who don’t want the hassle of reupholstering a sofa but still want something that suits them to a T. Just remember that buying something 100% bespoke will no doubt be more expensive than reupholstering an old sofa AND buying a new sofa.
Is it cheaper to have a couch reupholstered or buy a new one?
On average, it’ll cost you around £600 plus the cost of the fabric to upholster a small sofa. However, it’s important to note that this price does depend on the size and shape of your sofa, as well as your fabric choice and the age of the sofa.
Because of this, obtaining a quote from a professional upholsterer will provide you with a better indicator of how much it will cost to have a sofa reupholstered.
In terms of buying a new sofa, this price varies. You can buy a sofa for as little as £300, or you could buy one that will cost you upwards of £2,000.
Is it better to replace or reupholster a couch?
If you have an older, high-quality sofa and you’re happy with the size, shape, and comfortability of the sofa, it’ll probably be best to get your sofa reupholstered. This will allow you to take advantage of the high-quality frame while still tailoring the fabric to your own design choice.
Not only that, but this could also give you the chance to design your dream sofa that money simply couldn't buy. It'll be bespoke to you and give you the opportunity to design something that is one-of-a-kind.
However, if your sofa is old and uncomfortable and the size no longer works for your family or your home, it’ll most likely be worth replacing the sofa instead.
This will also be less time-consuming than having your sofa reupholstered, which can sometimes take up to 12. Stephany Aubrey, Brand Specialist and Zinus explains, 'Purchasing a brand-new sofa is a much quicker process than reupholstering, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of having a new piece of furniture to admire.'
After all, when you send your sofa off to be reupholstered, you could be without a sofa for up to three months. If you choose to buy a quick-delivery sofa, you can bring your design ideas to life quicker.
Now you know how much it costs to reupholster a sofa vs buying a new sofa, it’s down to you to make a decision that works best for you.
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Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.
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