Carrying out any upholstery to repair furniture is a time consuming and delicate job. It can be quite a major operation because effectively you are rebuilding most of the piece from scratch. It is however worth the effort as you end up with what is to all intents and purposes, a brand new piece of furniture.

Before undertaking restoration work on any furniture look out for the things below and try to envisage what it will look like with the new fabric on it.

Check underneath and see if the frame is intact and of good quality wood. Ensure the frame and legs are stable and strong and that all the joints are fast.

Check the legs are all the same length and that the chair or sofa does not rock.

Check the wood and frame for any cracks or warping. It's easier to check and fix now than to recover it all and find the damage.

If present, check the kind of springs and whether they are easily available to purchase. Does the furniture consist mainly of a foam interior for its springiness? How much foam will you need to buy and of what grade? Do you need protective polyester wraps to keep the foam in shape?

Check for any brand or manufacturers names. This may make it easier to buy spares and can help you to decide whether it's worth getting the job done professionally.

Research the types and colours of fabrics that are on sale and consider replacing the fabric with a similar or better grade. If it's an antique are those fabrics still available? Can you use a cheaper fabric and will it last as well?

For instance if you are using the furniture in a bedroom the fabric does not need to be so hard wearing as one that will be needed in an office or a sitting room. You can sometimes get away with using a normal fabric or a curtain for furniture that isn't used very often.

See if the old fabric has any manufacturers marking or logos on it. This can help in resourcing the same material. Is the fabric a commercial grade or is it a more mundane fabric.

Ask a local upholster, like The Foam Shop in Kesgrave, for a fabric sample and take it home and offer it up to your furniture to see what it will look like. Does it suit the chair or sofa? Does it look nice with all the other pieces of furniture and the general decor?

Take a few days to decide before you go and purchase the amount you need for the job and always ask the shop for advice.

Ask yourself if you want to give the furniture a new more updated look or whether you want a traditional look. Do you want modern styles to fit the new decoration and paint colours you are going to use or are you happy with the present look, feel and colour?

Think about the patterns on the fabric and whether they are going to clash with anything. Check the fabric sample in different light levels and in different rooms. Look under artificial and natural light.

Do you want to change the shape of the cushions or the shape of the piece?

Maybe you want a faux leather look with studs or a pastel vinyl finished off with some piping.

You could even try a cord to define the edges of the cushions or add a valance to hide something you don't like on the frame. Adding things like this can add to furniture's appeal and how happy you feel about using it.

How much does reupholstering cost?

As with all unique work, the costs for carrying out restoration on a chair or sofa can vary according to the work you want to do, any repairs required or what fabrics you wish to use.

The best thing is to research materials, tools, hardware and the amount of foam and other supplies you will need and always study the construction of the piece at length so you know exactly how it's constructed.

It is always a good idea to take photos so you have a reference to work from and can resort back to check on these if something does go wrong. It is also a good idea to take as many measurements as you can and keep them in a safe place.

On average the labour without the fabrics and foam will cost in the region of £250 - 450 for a standard wing back chair and about £550 - 750 for a 2-3 seater sofa but this varies around the country.

What can be reupholstered?

Quite a wide variety of furniture can be revamped from chairs and sofas, recliners and chaises through to dining chairs and stools. The Foam Shop offers a comprehensive furniture repair service so feel free to call or visit us for advice or getting a quote. We also stock a vast array of furniture related tools, foams, fabrics and hardware.

We are happy to give advice or provide an upholstery service on many furniture manufacturers' pieces from Alstons, Andrena, Arthur Brett & Sons, Artistic Upholstery, Ashley Manor, Ashwood Designs, Buoyant, Charles Barr, Cintique, Collins and Hayes, Corndell, Delcor, Derwent, DFS, Duresta, Edge Beanbags, Emerald, Ercol, Eye 4 Design, GPlan, Hypnos, Icon Designs, IKEA, Knightsbridge, LE-AL, Lebus, MFI, Natutzi, Omega, Parker and Farr, Parker Knoll, Relax Seating, Royams, Sankey, Sherbourne, Spirit, Tedrad, Ultra Furniture, Vale Bridgecraft, Wade, Westbridge, Whiteleaf and Wyvern though to one off and bespoke pieces as well as antiques.

Reupholster or Replace?

If your old furniture is structurally sound and the fabric and cushions have seen better days it is probably cheaper to reupholster than replace. If the frame is broken and needs heavy repair it is probably best to replace with new furniture. This is down to personal choice however and if it's a valuable, loved or unique piece then it's worth the outlay to repair it.