Reupholstery: Is It Worth It?

By Joseph Pubillones

December 28, 2013 4 min read

Many clients ask me whether reupholstering their current sofas or chairs makes financial sense? There is never a clear-cut answer to that question because there are so many variables. Does your current furniture match your current taste and intended interior design? Are the upholstered pieces comfortable? How old are the frames? Are they quality pieces that will endure at least another five years of use? Are your intentions to fully reupholster your furniture or just have slipcovers made? Are you going to be doing the work yourself or having a workroom do it for you?

The main benefit of using an upholstery workroom is experience. Many elements that are worn out or not right with your frame are not visible to the naked eye. Stripping the furniture will reveal potential problems that can be fixed or remedied in the hands of an expert upholsterer. They see everything from sagging seat straps and unglued or loosely pegged connections to mold-infested batting. These are just some of the possible problems with your furniture.

Something else to consider is the fabric, vinyl or leather that you will be using to reupholster your furniture. Every style has its pros and cons. Here are some tips when selecting materials:

—Cotton fabrics are the least expensive. They are available in neutrals or vibrant colors, as cotton can be dyed easily. Depending on the pattern, cotton pieces can be formal or laid-back casual.

—Linen is a great natural fiber. The look achieved with linens is usually casual due to the wrinkle factor. Because linens are woven fabrics, they tend to give and stretch a bit over time. Linens are quite nice for slipcovers.

—Velvets are luxurious and will age. Some love the crushed appearance of velvet as it catches the light. Velvets are manufactured in a variety of threads from cotton, linen and silk to synthetics. Velvets typically are used in cooler climates because of the warmth of its texture.

—Wools are great fabrics for upholstery for the same reason they are used in garments: wearability. They hardly show any wrinkles or creases and can be woven and printed on with ease. Wools also repel liquids, and so they are great for dining chairs or in areas where beverages are consumed.

—Mohair is another extremely durable natural fiber. Considered an ultra-luxe fabric, it was a mainstay in automobile upholstery from the 1920s through the 1950s. Mohair is still used for sofas and club chairs in high-end interiors.

—Leathers are more durable than fabrics, but are susceptible to scratching. Some like the "aging" that leather acquires over time. In the summer, leathers tend to be hot, while in the winter months they are ice cold to the skin.

—Vinyls are similar to leathers. However, because vinyl is a synthetic material, it does not breathe. In warmer climates, vinyls can feel sticky to the skin, and in cold climates, sitting on vinyl is like sitting on metal.

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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