Reupholstering a Chair: How Much Should You Budget?

Reupholstering a Chair: How Much Should You Budget?


Reupholstering a chair is a popular choice for those looking to refresh their home décor without breaking the bank.

By setting a budget, you can make smart choices about materials and methods, ensuring the project enhances your space without straining your finances.

This guide will dive into the factors that influence the cost of reupholstering a chair and offer practical tips for staying within your budget.

Main Content

Understanding Reupholstering

Reupholstering involves removing the old fabric from a chair and replacing it with new material. It’s a great way to bring an outdated or worn-out chair back to life, allowing you to customize the design to fit your current aesthetic.

What You Need to Know

Definition: Reupholstering is the process of replacing the fabric, and sometimes padding and springs, on furniture to update its appearance or restore it to its original condition.

Popularity: This method is favored for its dual benefits of sustainability and customization, allowing for a personalized touch in home decor.

Setting Your Budget

Before diving into the reupholstering process, it’s crucial to establish a budget. This financial guideline will help you navigate the costs involved and select materials that align with your economic constraints.

Factors Influencing Cost

Fabric Choice: The type of fabric can significantly affect the cost. Options range from budget-friendly synthetics to high-end natural fibers.

Condition of the Chair: Chairs that require structural repairs or new padding will cost more to reupholster.

Labor Costs: Depending on whether you DIY or hire a professional, labor can be a considerable part of your budget.

Choosing the Right Fabric

Selecting the appropriate fabric is a pivotal decision in the reupholstering process. It influences not only the look and feel of your chair but also the project’s overall cost.

Tips for Fabric Selection

Durability vs. Cost: Heavier, more durable fabrics might be more expensive but can be more cost-effective long-term.

Aesthetic Consideration: Choose a fabric that complements your room’s decor while reflecting your personal style.

DIY vs. Professional Reupholstery

Decide whether to tackle the project yourself or hire a professional. Each option has its merits and limitations, influenced by your skills, the project’s complexity, and your budget.


Skill Level: Assess your own ability to handle the project. Beginners might find detailed chairs challenging.

Cost Comparison: Sometimes, DIY can be more cost-effective, but mistakes can also lead to higher costs if redoing work becomes necessary.


Reupholstering a chair allows for creative expression and can be tailored to fit any budget. By understanding the factors that affect costs and planning accordingly, you can ensure that your reupholstery project is both a financial and aesthetic success.

This approach not only saves money but also contributes to a more sustainable living environment by giving old furniture a new lease on life.

The Average Cost of Reupholstering a Chair

Reupholstering a chair is a fantastic way to revamp your space, but the cost can vary widely based on several factors. Understanding these elements can help you budget effectively and make informed decisions. This section provides a comprehensive overview of what you might expect to spend when undertaking such a project.

Factors Influencing Cost

The total cost to reupholster a chair is influenced by various aspects, including the chair’s size, the materials used, and the complexity of the task at hand.

Chair Size and Design Complexity

Size: Larger chairs, such as wingbacks or recliners, require more material and more labor, which can increase the cost.

Design: Chairs with intricate details like tufting, pleats, or multiple cushions may also increase the price due to the additional labor and skill required.

Fabric Choice

The choice of fabric significantly impacts the overall cost of reupholstering. Prices vary widely based on the fabric type and its quality.

Types of Fabric: Common choices include cotton, linen, velvet, and leather, each varying in price.

Fabric Quality: High-end fabrics like silk or designer materials can dramatically increase the cost.

Labor Costs

Labor is a substantial component of reupholstery costs. Prices can vary depending on the upholsterer’s experience and location.

DIY vs. Professional: Doing it yourself can save on labor costs but may not always be advisable for complex projects.

Professional Fees: Skilled upholsterers might charge more, but the investment can be worth it for a high-quality finish.

Average Pricing

On average, the cost to reupholster a chair typically ranges from $200 to $1,000. This broad range reflects differences in labor, fabric choice, and the chair’s condition and style.

Breakdown of Costs

Fabric: Depending on your choice, fabric costs can range from $5 per yard for basic materials to over $70 per yard for high-end or designer fabrics.

Additional Materials: Costs for other materials like batting, springs, or webbing can add up.

Labor: Labor costs vary but are typically the most significant portion of the expense.

Tips for Budgeting

To manage costs effectively, consider the following tips:

Get Multiple Quotes: Always get estimates from several upholsterers to ensure you are getting a fair price.

Choose Fabric Wisely: Opt for mid-range fabrics that offer durability and aesthetic appeal without breaking the bank.

Consider the Chair’s Value: Evaluate whether the chair is worth the investment. Sometimes, it might be more cost-effective to buy new.

The cost to reupholster a chair involves various factors, from the size and design of the chair to the choice of fabric and labor required. By understanding these elements and preparing accordingly, you can manage your budget effectively and breathe new life into an old favorite, enhancing both comfort and style in your home.

Key Factors that Influence the Cost

When it comes to reupholstering a chair, several key factors can significantly affect the overall cost. Understanding these variables can help you budget more accurately and choose options that align with your financial and design goals.

Fabric Quality

The choice of fabric is one of the most impactful factors in the cost of reupholstering a chair. The type and quality of the fabric you select can make a substantial difference in both appearance and expense.

Impact of Fabric on Cost

Higher Quality Fabrics: Premium materials like leather, velvet, or high-thread-count fabrics are more costly but offer durability and a luxurious finish.

Economic Choices: More affordable fabrics, such as cotton blends or synthetics, can reduce costs while still providing style and functionality.

Labor Requirements

The amount of labor involved in reupholstering a chair directly affects the cost. This includes the time it takes to remove old materials and install new ones.

Labor Cost Factors

Complexity of the Project: Chairs with complex structures, such as those with multiple cushions or intricate frames, require more time and skill to reupholster.

Regional Variations: Labor costs can also vary significantly depending on your location and the expertise of the upholsterer.

Additional Features

Adding custom features like tufting, piping, or decorative nails can enhance the beauty of your chair but also adds to the overall cost.

Costs Associated with Extra Features

Tufting and Piping: These decorative touches require additional materials and labor, increasing the overall expense.

Decorative Elements: Elements like nailhead trim or unique stitching details require specialized skills and materials, further impacting the budget.

Condition of Support System

The existing condition of the chair’s support system, including springs, frames, and padding, plays a crucial role in determining the cost of reupholstery.

Support System Repair Costs

Frame Repairs: If the chair’s frame is damaged, repairing it before reupholstering can add to the cost.

Replacing Springs and Padding: Older chairs might need new springs or padding, which involves additional materials and labor.

The cost to reupholster a chair is influenced by a variety of factors, including the quality of fabric, the amount of labor required, additional design features, and the condition of the chair’s support system.

By carefully considering each of these aspects, you can make informed decisions that align with your budget and design preferences, ensuring that your reupholstered chair not only looks great but also offers value for money.

1. Fabric Choice and Quality

Selecting the right fabric is a crucial step in reupholstering a chair, influencing both the aesthetic appeal and the cost of your project. Different types of upholstery fabric vary not only in appearance but also in price, durability, and maintenance needs. Here’s how to make an informed choice that balances cost and quality.

Understanding Upholstery Fabrics

The fabric you choose can define the look and longevity of your reupholstered chair. It’s essential to understand the different types available and what makes each unique.

Upholstery Cotton: Known for its breathability and comfort, upholstery cotton is a common choice for household furniture. It’s relatively durable and easy to maintain, making it a practical option for a tight budget.

Dacron: Typically used as padding rather than exterior fabric, Dacron is a polyester batting that adds comfort and durability to the cushions. The quality and amount of Dacron used can influence both the comfort and the final cost of the reupholstery project.

Factors Influencing Fabric Costs

Fabric Type: High-end fabrics like leather or high-grade velvets tend to be more expensive than more common materials like cotton or synthetic blends.

Durability: Fabrics with higher durability — often indicated by their abrasion rating, or “double rubs” — tend to be more expensive but can be more cost-effective over the long term.

Maintenance: Consider whether the fabric requires special care, such as dry cleaning, which can add to long-term maintenance costs.

Choosing the Right Fabric

When selecting fabric for your chair, consider both aesthetics and functionality to find a balance between cost and quality.

Assess Usage: Determine how much wear and tear the chair will face. High-traffic areas might require more durable, albeit potentially more expensive, fabrics.

Match Your Decor: The fabric should complement the existing decor in your home. Even a less expensive fabric can look outstanding if it perfectly matches your style.

Budget-Friendly Options: If high-end fabrics are out of your budget, look for mid-range alternatives that offer durability without the high cost. Often, synthetic blends provide a good compromise between cost, appearance, and durability.

Expert Tips

Get Samples: Always get fabric samples before making your final decision. This way, you can see and feel the material and how it fits with your home’s interior.

Consider Remnants: For smaller chairs or single-seat cushions, consider looking for remnants of high-quality fabrics at reduced prices.

Choosing the right fabric is about more than just picking a color or pattern. It’s about understanding the material’s performance, maintenance, and harmony with your living space, ensuring that your reupholstered chair not only looks great but also stands the test of time within your budget.

2. Extent of Labor Required

Reupholstering a chair is often more labor-intensive than many anticipate. The amount of work required can significantly affect the overall cost of the project. Understanding the labor involved will help you appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into reupholstery and assist in budgeting appropriately.

Understanding the Labor Process

The labor process in reupholstering involves several detailed steps, each contributing to the final cost.

Tear-Down Process: Removing the old fabric, which can be time-consuming and laborious, especially if the chair has multiple layers of upholstery or if the fabric is stapled or glued extensively.

Support System Assessment and Repair: Examining and possibly replacing or repairing the support system (springs, webbing, and frame) can add complexity and time to the project, especially if there is significant wear or damage.

Factors Influencing Labor Intensity

Chair Type and Size: Larger chairs or those with complex designs, like wingback chairs or those with tufted backs, require more time and precision, increasing labor costs.

Condition of Existing Upholstery: Chairs in poor condition may need more extensive work on padding, springs, or frames, further increasing the labor involved.

Labor Cost as a Percentage of Total Cost

Labor can account for a substantial portion of the overall reupholstery cost. Depending on the complexity of the work and the upholsterer’s rates, labor costs can typically represent:

40-60% of the Total Cost: This range can vary, but labor is often the most significant single expense in a reupholstery project.

Tips for Managing Labor Costs

Evaluate the Necessity of Repairs: Not all old furniture will require extensive frame and support repairs. Assessing whether these elements are structurally sound can save on labor costs.

Choose the Right Professional: Skilled labor isn’t cheap, but a seasoned upholsterer can work more efficiently and potentially avoid costly mistakes that someone less experienced might make.

DIY Considerations: For those with some DIY skills, performing some of the simpler tasks, such as the tear-down, can reduce costs. However, consider this approach carefully, as improper handling might lead to more extensive repairs later.

Understanding the labor involved in reupholstering a chair is crucial for setting realistic expectations and budgeting accurately.

By considering these factors, you can make informed decisions about whether to proceed with reupholstering an existing chair or perhaps purchasing a new one, depending on the value and sentimental attachment to the furniture.

3. Impact of Additional Features or Details

Adding intricate details or unique features to a reupholstery project can significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal of a chair but also impacts the cost due to the extra labor and materials required. Understanding how these features affect the reupholstery process can help you make informed decisions to balance cost and design.

Influence of Chair Design on Cost

The more complex the chair’s design, the more time, skill, and material are required, which can increase the overall cost of the project.

Intricate Designs: Chairs with unique shapes or detailed frames can be more challenging to upholster, requiring more precise and labor-intensive work.

Tufting: This decorative feature involves sewing buttons and creating indents in the upholstery to form patterns. Tufting adds a layer of complexity and requires additional labor and materials, increasing costs.

Trimming: Details like decorative nails (nailhead trim) or piping along seams not only add style but also complexity, requiring additional time and effort from the upholsterer.

Cost Impact of Additional Features

Labor Intensity: Both tufting and trimming involve meticulous handwork, which can significantly extend the time needed to complete the project.

Material Costs: Extra materials, such as buttons for tufting or specialized trim for edges, add to the total cost of materials.

Managing Costs with Design Features

While these decorative elements enhance a chair’s beauty, they can make reupholstery more expensive. Here are some tips to manage these costs effectively:

Evaluate the Impact: Consider how much these features contribute to the desired look and functionality of the chair. Sometimes, simplifying the design can reduce costs without compromising on style.

Alternative Techniques: Explore less labor-intensive alternatives that mimic the look of more complex designs. For example, instead of traditional tufting, use a faux-tufted pattern printed on fabric.

Prioritize Key Features: If certain features are must-haves, consider which ones are worth the investment and which ones could be modified or omitted to keep costs down.

Compromise Without Sacrifice

Mix and Match: Combine high-impact features with simpler designs. For instance, choose a plain fabric but add a striking trim.

DIY Elements: If you’re skilled in any DIY tasks, consider taking on some parts of the project yourself, such as adding decorative nails, to save on labor costs.

The addition of features like tufting and trimming undoubtedly enhances the charm and character of a chair but also impacts the reupholstery cost. By carefully considering these features’ effects and exploring creative alternatives, you can achieve a beautiful result that aligns with your budget and design preferences.

Pros and Cons of DIY Chair Reupholstery in Terms of Cost

Embarking on a DIY chair reupholstery project can be a rewarding endeavor, offering substantial cost savings and a personalized touch to your furniture. However, it’s crucial to consider both the benefits and potential drawbacks before diving in, especially in terms of costs and risks.

Pros of DIY Upholstery

Cost Savings

Labor Costs: The most significant advantage of DIY reupholstery is avoiding professional labor costs. Upholsterers charge for their expertise and time, which can make up a large portion of the total reupholstery cost.

Personal Satisfaction

Customization and Learning: DIY projects provide an opportunity to learn new skills and customize the upholstery exactly to your preferences, which can be particularly satisfying.

Cons of DIY Upholstery

Risk of Mistakes

Potential for Errors: Without professional skills, the risk of making mistakes increases—mistakes that can sometimes require additional materials or even professional intervention to correct, thereby increasing the overall cost.

Quality and Durability

Professional Finish: A professional upholsterer brings years of experience and skill, which can significantly impact the finish and durability of the reupholstered chair. DIY might not achieve the same level of quality, especially for complex projects.

Evaluating the DIY Approach

Assessing Skill Level and Project Complexity

Skill Level: Evaluate your current skill level and the learning curve involved in reupholstering a chair. Simple projects might be manageable, but complex tasks like tufting or working with intricate frame shapes might be challenging.

Project Complexity: Consider the complexity of the chair you want to reupholster. Chairs with simple lines and fewer cushions are typically easier to handle than those with complex designs and multiple fabric pieces.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Materials Cost: DIY projects often lead to initial savings on labor but consider whether you will need to purchase special tools or higher quantities of fabric due to potential mistakes.

Time Investment: Your time is valuable. Consider whether the time spent learning and executing upholstery skills could be better invested elsewhere.

Making the Decision

To decide whether DIY reupholstery is right for you, consider the following:

Cost vs. Reward: Weigh the potential savings against the risk of increased costs due to errors and the time you’ll invest in the project.

Learning Opportunity vs. Practicality: If you’re enthusiastic about learning a new skill and have the time to commit, DIY could be a fulfilling option. However, if you’re looking for a professional finish or need to ensure durability, hiring a professional might be more advisable.

DIY chair reupholstery offers the chance to save money and add a personal touch to your furniture, but it requires careful consideration of your abilities and the specific requirements of the project. Assess these factors thoroughly to ensure that your efforts enhance your home without unintended extra costs.

Getting Multiple Quotes from Upholstery Professionals

When planning to reupholster a chair, obtaining multiple quotes from various upholstery professionals is a crucial step. This not only helps you gauge the market rate but also provides insight into the quality and scope of services offered by different upholsterers. Here’s how to approach this task effectively to ensure you get the best value for your investment.

Importance of Multiple Quotes

Fair Price Assessment

Comparative Analysis: Getting estimates from several professionals allows you to compare prices and services, ensuring you don’t pay too much or too little for the quality of work you expect.

Insight into Service Quality

Scope of Work: Different quotes can highlight variations in the scope of work proposed by upholsterers, from basic re-covering to full restoration, including structural repairs.

How to Obtain Accurate Comparisons

Consistency in Requests

Uniform Specifications: Provide the same information regarding the chair’s condition, desired fabric type, and any special features (like tufting or piping) to each upholsterer to ensure that the quotes are based on the same requirements.

Detailed Inquiries

Breakdown of Services: Ask for a detailed breakdown of costs, including labor, materials, and any additional fees (like pickup and delivery services) to fully understand what each quote covers.

Evaluating Quotes

Quality Over Cost

Materials and Workmanship: Consider the quality of materials and the reputation of the craftsman. A higher quote might reflect superior craftsmanship and more durable materials, which can be more cost-effective long-term.

Reputation and Reviews

Professional Background: Research customer reviews and the professional’s reputation in the industry. Experienced upholsterers with positive reviews might charge more but also offer greater assurance of quality and reliability.

Clarification and Negotiation

Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification on any aspect of the quote that isn’t clear. Understanding what each part of the quote entails helps in making an informed decision.

Negotiation: Once you have all the information, don’t be shy about negotiating. Some upholsterers may be willing to match lower quotes or offer discounts on fabric purchases.

Making the Final Decision

When you’ve gathered all your quotes and assessed each based on the above criteria, consider both the immediate cost and the long-term benefits. Opting for a slightly more expensive upholsterer might be worthwhile if the quality of workmanship and materials significantly exceeds what others offer.

The right choice will ensure that your reupholstered chair not only looks great but also lasts many more years, providing excellent value for the money spent.


Choosing between reupholstering and replacing furniture involves more than just cost considerations; it’s also a decision about sustainability, sentiment, and style.

Reupholstering offers an opportunity to refresh your living space while preserving cherished pieces of furniture and minimizing environmental impact.

Environmental and Sentimental Benefits


Reupholstering furniture is a greener choice compared to buying new. This process extends the life of furniture pieces, significantly reducing waste and the demand for new resources.

By choosing to reupholster, you contribute to less landfill waste and a lower carbon footprint due to decreased manufacturing and transportation needs.

Preserving Sentimental Value

For many, furniture is not just functional; it carries memories and history. Reupholstering allows you to maintain these sentimental items, refreshing them for continued use without losing the emotional connection.

Whether it’s a family heirloom or a piece that marks a significant milestone, reupholstering lets you retain the narrative embedded in these cherished objects.


While the initial cost of reupholstering might seem high compared to buying some new furniture, it often proves more economical in the long run, especially with high-quality or antique pieces.

Reupholstery restores furniture to like-new condition, potentially with higher quality materials than many contemporary pieces, ensuring longevity that often surpasses that of newer, less expensive items.

Making the Choice to Reupholster

When deciding whether to reupholster or replace, consider not only the financial aspect but also the environmental impact and the sentimental value of the furniture.

Reupholstering isn’t just about saving money—it’s about making a choice that benefits the planet and preserves a piece of your personal or family history.

Encouragement for Sustainable Choices

I encourage you to view reupholstering as a meaningful and sustainable choice. It’s a way to blend past and present in your home decor, ensuring that each piece not only looks beautiful but also holds a story worth telling.

Weigh the cost against the value you place on owning a unique and cherished piece of furniture, and consider reupholstering as a worthy investment in both your home and the environment.

Reupholstering offers a chance to create a home environment that is truly personal and mindful of our planet’s resources.

Embrace this opportunity to innovate creatively while honoring the past, fostering a living space that reflects both your values and your style.