This is when you should reupholster a sofa – designers on the signs it's time for an upgrade

Expert tips on when you should reupholster a sofa to breathe new life into your living room

this is when you should reupholster a sofa. London apartment living room by Gunter & Co
(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

Knowing when you should reupholster a sofa not only ensures you maintain a certain level of aesthetics in your home but also allows you to breathe new life into an existing piece - and get involved with the shift towards increased sustainability in interior choices. 

For while we talk about a lot about living room updates, and overhauls and refurbs and revamps, caring for existing pieces - and getting more life out of them - is really what a home should be about.

'Wear and tear is inevitable on the most used piece of furniture in the home, but we believe that this shouldn’t mean you need to scrap and buy new,' say designers at KING Living. 'Extending the life of upholstered furniture by using removable covers or reupholstering allow you to repair or replace them with new fabrics to suit new stylistic choices in your interiors. 

'With customers regularly returning to reupholster their 30-year-old sofa, we are constantly reminded how long your sofa can last if maintained properly.'

So how do you know when it's time to take the plunge and reupholster? Expert reveal all below.

When should you reupholster a sofa?

teal velvet sofa concrete wall living room by KING Living

(Image credit: KING Living)

If you've noticed your couch fabric is thinning and it's becoming noticeable to guests or bringing the overall standard of the space down, it's time to reupholster your sofa - though you may also need to look at our feature on how to fix a sagging couch.

Reupholstering will not only bring your sofa back to life, but will also elevate your decor as a whole.

The first thing you have to decide though, is if it's worth it to reupholster. The average cost of doing so is around $1800. Do you love your sofa frame this much? Or is this perhaps just a little less - or even more - than you'd spend on a brand new sofa you could get a longer life from? 

And perhaps it could just do with a clean. 

'Many marks or stains can be removed with the help of a professional stain removal company,' says Irene Gunter, co-founder of Gunter & Co. 'We often use Ace, which can also provide a Scotchgarding service to prevent stains from settling in the first place.' 

This Scotchgard spray from Amazon is perfect for giving a sofa a bit of extra protection once you've cleaned it.

'However, if fabric is disintegrating, pilling or threadbare, it’s high time for a reupholstery job!' Irene says.

Is it cheaper to reupholster or buy a new couch?

living room with teal painted wall

(Image credit: Colossus Mfg)

If the sofa wasn’t your biggest love in the first place, whether it's the sofa dimensions or style, beware of reupholstering as the combined labor and fabric cost can often be more than half the cost of a new sofa.

'When looking at many options, a new sofa would be more cost effective than reupholstering,' says Irene Gunter. 

'However, if you invested in a high-quality sofa (think the likes of George Smith, Kingcome Sofas, Minotti, etc), it’s far better to reupholster to extend the life of a well-made piece. 

'You can still change the filling of the cushions to personalize your own level of comfort.'


How do you know when it’s time to replace your couch? 

A living room with a curving sofa

(Image credit: Heju)

'If your seat cushions are ‘indented’ it’s time for an upgrade,' advises Irene Gunter. 'Also, tastes and comfort requirements change. So, if your sofa is not putting a smile on your face when you sit on it or look at it, don’t delay the inevitable.'


Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.