Sofas: Consider replacing your sofa before the seats start sagging to the point of not supporting you, the fabric has become stained and worn, and the frame is breaking down or squeaking. How long should a couch last? On average, a typical sofa lasts between 7 and 15 years.
Now that you’re familiar with the general lifespan of household items and furniture, it’s also important to look at other criteria when deciding how often to buy new furniture. After all, lifespan is not the only consideration. What are some other factors when deciding whether to replace a piece of furniture?
When the fabric of the sofa or couch starts to show signs of wear and tear, indicating that the material is fraying where it shouldn’t, it’s time to start looking for a new couch. What about the sofa with the fading color? If you have your sofa near a window, chances are that the natural sunlight coming through the window will fade the upholstery over time. That sofa that once matched your other furniture, drapes and carpet now clashes, because the faded color simply doesn’t match.
A sofa that starts to creak is in need of replacement. Creaking may be the first sign that the sofa’s structure is starting to break down, and you should look for a new one. You don’t want to wait until a spring pops loose and starts to poke your guests as they make themselves comfortable after enjoying themselves at a dinner party you’ve just hosted.
Or perhaps the scenario starts when you got that first job out of college. You were thrilled to be able to furnish the only apartment you’ve ever had to yourself, buying some inexpensive pieces at a chain furniture store. Fast-forward ten years, and you are moderately successful in a new job and now have the salary to upgrade not only your kitchen but also your living room. It’s time for that inexpensive couch to go.
Ask yourself whether the sofa is still comfortable. If it’s great, but sags to the point that you feel there is little cushion left, then it’s time to look for a replacement.
Replacing vs. Reupholstering Furniture
If you are really attached to the sofas that you inherited from your grandmother (perhaps, because you’ve got fond memories of her teaching you to knit while sitting on one), you’ll have to decide whether to reupholster the sofas or buy new ones. If you really like the sofa, but want to eliminate the signs of wear and tear, reupholstering is just the option for you. However, there are several questions to consider before jumping in.
- Is the piece an antique? In order to prevent harming the piece through the reupholstering process, make sure that you find a specialist in reupholstering antique furniture.
- What type of fabric is best? If you are particular about the fabric type and pattern that you want to use for your piece, it may be easier to have someone reupholster it than to find that type of fabric and pattern in a new piece of furniture.
- Is the sofa’s structure sound? As long as your furniture is structurally sound, and the fabric is the only part that is really worn, reupholstering might be a good option for you and end up saving you money in the long run. An old sofa that has retained its structure of at least ten years likely has a sound frame.
- Should I do this myself? The craftiest person with a lot of time on their hands and a desire to learn a new skill might want to embark on a DIY project. You may have to take a class or learn about the techniques either by reading books or using the internet, but it is an option that may save you money.
If you are considering reupholstering yourself but you have neither the money nor the time to take on a project, you may want to think about a temporary fix. If you have a sofa with multiple stains, and you have tried to get them out with various stain removers, try using a steam cleaner instead. A small steam cleaner will generally cost less than $200.
Or if you have tried steam cleaning, but the stains still won’t come out, you may cover the stains with an inexpensive throw or some pillows. Making the pillows yourself is an option with a few simple tools such as a pillow stuffer, some fabric tape which can be ironed on, a pair of rotary cutters and a cutting mat.
While this fix is only temporary until you can tackle a complete reupholster, it may help you if you are just trying to make your old sofa presentable for an upcoming dinner party.
Determining if a Piece of Furniture is Structurally Sound for Reupholstering
See if you can find out what type of frame your piece of furniture has. If it has a wood frame put together with wooden pins (rather than staples), it’s more likely to be sound. If the frame is a metal frame and uses staples, there is less chance that it makes sense to reuse. Even professionals will probably tell you that it isn’t a wise idea to try to repair a piece that isn’t good quality.
Examine the springs in the frame. The best quality springs are coiled and tied with twine. The use of rubber panels in place of springs means that you should probably reconsider reupholstering.
Frames that are visible, often on antique furniture, are usually made of wood such as mahogany or cherry, and often don’t need to be repaired. Changing the shape of a frame is not something that an upholster can or will do. If the shape of the furniture is changed, it will change the entire integrity of the piece.
Check out the foam of the sofa. If the foam on the back and the arms is easily compressed, it’s probably sub-standard foam and is not worth reupholstering. If you find firm or even lumpy foam, chances are that the firm foam is more amenable to being reupholstered.
Additional Reasons to Reupholster
One of the aspects of upholstery to think about is if you have a piece of furniture that is sound but needs to be changed, such as raising the back of the chair. A skilled upholsterer would be able to alter the chair in such a way as to raise the back and give you more support.
You can ask the upholsterer to save the old fabric for you. You may be able to find an alternative use for it.
Last but not least, you will need to know how long it will take for them to complete the project, as well as the cost. You will want to research whether it will cost more to reupholster or to purchase new. Factors that can contribute to the cost are the number of cushions in need of repair, the type of fabric (you’ll need extra fabric for a pattern that needs elements lined up), repairing the frame or legs or adding a skirt. If you need to have your piece picked up and delivered, that will cost extra as well.