Reupholstering furniture for restaurants

New Furniture or Reupholstering Old Furniture: Which is Best?

Reupholstering restaurant furniture

On average, 11% of U.S. consumers regret skimping on their furniture purchases. Buying quality pieces for your business is a big upfront expense. However, purchasing quality furniture pays for itself in longevity.

But what about those pieces that are...ok? Maybe the structure is ok but the vinyl is ripped. Have you considered reupholstering?

Reupholstering your business' furniture is a great option, but not always the best. Here are important factors to consider if you're deciding between new versus reupholstered furniture.  

Furniture Matters to Your Business

Your furniture sets the tone for your entire business. It's the first thing people will see when they walk through your door. Why, exactly, does it matter so much?

Clients and Customers

How would you like others to feel when they enter your place of business? The average first impression is decided within the first seven seconds of new experiences or introductions. This gives your business very little room for visual error.

Displaying rundown or drab furniture communicates carelessness. Dilapidated seating areas can make your space seem unclean, even if it isn't dirty. If you aren't intentional about your company's visual message, you could lose business.

Furniture that looks nice gives you a first impression advantage. Comfortable furniture makes people feel welcome and valued. 


Would you feel valued if your desk chair was ripped? Would a desk that needs a few books under one leg inspire much out of you? Of course not!

Your business furniture matters to your employees. By providing quality pieces, those who work for you feel valued. 

When employees feel valued, they have more motivation to do their best. Comfortable seating is a great way to give your employees a reason to love their job. When people are comfortable, they can focus their energy on creativity.

Visually appealing furniture affects your employees the same way it does your clients. Investing in quality furniture ensures a pleasant office environment for all. 

Refurbish or Replace

That is the question! If you've noticed your furniture needs a little zhuzh, you have several options. 

  • replace it
  • refurbish it
  • leave it as is

You may like the bones of a piece of furniture, but the upholstery is shot. Maybe you've changed your color scheme and your favorite chairs or couches no longer match. When to hold on and when to say goodbye depends on several factors. 

Who Uses It?

The answer depends on your business. If you're in the restaurant industry, your patrons will be the primary seat dwellers. If you have an office setting, your employees will most likely be the main furniture users.

If you have adults who are sitting at a desk job, your seating won't take much of a beating outside normal wear and tear. If you're moving parties of 2-10 in and out of your restaurant each day, you're going to need something more durable.

If your chairs have the occasional scooch in/scooch out by one or two people, reupholstering will be worth your while. If the legs, back, and arms themselves aren't going to wear out easily, a facelift is all you need.

If seating is constantly being moved, lifted, pushed, and pulled, the frame is going to wear out. Replacing is a good option if the structure itself won't last much longer.

How Attached Are You?

Does your furniture in question have sentimental value? If you can't put a price on the item's value, reupholstering is a great way to spruce it up. Repurposing that special piece can allow you to keep business aesthetics and warm fuzzies.

If you are no more attached to the furniture than you are to last week's takeout, consider. An out with the old, fresh start might be just what your company needs to achieve that great new look!   

How Are the Bones?

The bones of the furniture refer to its structure. Are the legs really wobbly or uneven? What are the arms of the chair like?

If you grab the back of a chair and tip it back and forth, does the whole thing change shape? Do you see splitting wood or holes in the metal frame? 

All these things are indicators replacement is your best option. 

Couches and Sofas

What about your couch? Flip it over and remove the dust catcher.

If it's held together by staples and a fiberboard frame, you're not dealing with a high-quality piece of furniture. If you're seeing a solid wood frame held together by dowels and glue, you might want to hang on to that!

If the sofa's frame doesn't shift when you move it around, it's a solid bet there's some life left. 

Couches and sofas with sad or saggy springs aren't worth covering. Giving your uncomfortable seating a facelift won't help it any more than fairy wings would help a whale. 

Choose Wisely

There's no point in putting lipstick on the pig. Reupholstering lower quality or dilapidated furniture is a waste of money. Why spend the time and resources to refurbish something that will collapse in the near future anyway?

On the other hand, if you have good quality furniture that just needs a facelift, reupholstering is a great idea! Some reupholstering services will also fix dents or scratches.     

How Much Does Reupholstering Cost?

So is it cheaper to reupholster or buy new? That's an excellent question!

Reupholstering your restaurant furniture is a great way to keep costs down. Labor costs to reupholster chairs run anywhere from $55-$350 or higher/chair. This includes labor only, so your total cost depends on the type of upholstery or covering you need.

If you paid over $400/chair and it's still in relatively good condition, reupholstering will likely cost less if you only have a few.

Reupholstering may not be the best option if you have 150 $400 chairs and you plan to replace them with something less expensive.

What's It Worth? 

Depending on quality, reupholstering costs can exceed the cost of replacing your furniture. If this is your situation, you now have an excuse to go shopping for new furniture

Will reupholstering your chairs cost more than you paid for them? Unless you have a great reason to keep it, buying new furniture vs reupholstered is your best bet.

As a business owner, you're looking for the best return on your investment. Smart investment strategies regarding your business furniture are no different. Be sure the pieces you're refreshing are worth it! 

Unique Antiques

If you have antique furniture, find an expert! While you may not prefer the piece, it could be worth a lot of money. If this is the case, you should sell to an antique buyer if you decide to replace them. 

Your Business Needs a Facelift

Condition and function aren't the only reasons to change up your furniture game. Changing furniture is a great way to give your business a rebrand or remodel you've been needing.

If the frame of your furniture still fits with your new aesthetic, reupholstering just makes more sense. It's very likely less expensive than an entire replacement. If you can achieve the look you want by spending less money, why wouldn't you?

Perhaps you're completely shifting gears. If you're going from minimalist modern to a retro look, you're going to need new furniture.

If you can reuse your existing furniture, reupholstering provides you with the option to custom design. Fabric and material possibilities are almost endless, giving you the freedom to decide exactly what you want.

Many upholstery experts will incorporate your business logo onto your seating upholstery. The opportunity to customize business furniture and increase brand recognition is worth the investment. 

We're Living in a Material World

Maybe you've made up your mind to reupholster your business furniture already. Great! Now you need to find the right kind of material.

The type of fabric or materials you select depends on several factors. 

Where Will It Go?


Seating location is a key factor in your new versus reupholstered furniture decision. 

Do you have a busy waiting room or restaurant? If so, chairs and sofas need to be comfortable and durable. Materials such as vinyl and leather are great for higher traffic areas.

The more seats you have on those seats, the more durability you will need to provide! Speaking of seats, you can replace those, too! If the chairs in your business are getting tough on the tushie, you can replace the seat along with the upholstery.

Perhaps you have outdoor seating available. You'll need to select polyester or marine vinyl. 

A Softer Side

Does your business needs a softer, more comfortable feel? consider a softer, plusher upholstery.

Materials such as cotton, linen, and microfiber are softer options.

These materials are difficult to sanitize. Fabrics also stain easier, an unfortunate downside to the softer side.

Want To Try a DIY?

If you are an experienced DIYer and have a lot of time, you can attempt to reupholster yourself. For one or two pieces, this may be a good option.

Keep in mind, you may need to buy specialized tools for a DIY reupholstery job. Compare the costs of your tools with the cost of hiring someone to do the work. If you are spending almost as much money on tools you won't use again, it's not worth your time.

Reupholstering more than a few pieces may be more than you have time to handle. For high volume jobs, find a professional. 

With all the detail involved in reupholstery, you won't get the quality of a professional unless you're a professional. 

Don't Just Toss It

There's no need to toss your unwanted furniture if it's in good shape. You shouldn't feel guilty about replacing it, either. 

Don't Hesitate to Donate

Before you fill that dumpster with perfectly good fixtures, consider donating it.

Donating what you're not using is great for your business and others! Some organizations take donated corporate furniture and provide it free of charge to non-profits. 

Others collect donations to furnish housing for individuals breaking out of homelessness.  

Check with local schools or faith communities to see if they have any furniture needs you can help fill. Building partnerships with others in your community could start with something as simple as a donated sofa.

Reclaimed Wood Is so in Right Now

If you're getting rid of anything wood, you could be throwing away money! With the rise in popularity of reclaimed wood, people will pay you for good quality wood.

Even if it's in rough shape, craftsmen and women can make good use out of that old wood.

Artistic Flair

If you have metal-framed furniture, consider contacting a local art school. Many artists make beautiful creations from discarded metal.  

If you're feeling creative, you could commission a piece for your place of business. 

A work of art from your recycled furniture is a great way to customize your new look. Unique artwork is often an excellent conversation piece. 

New Versus Reupholstered Furniture

Now that you're well versed in the pros and cons of reupholstering, you can make an informed decision. Will your business benefit best from a brand new look? You can find great furniture for your business at Richardson Seating. 

Rather reupholster? We can help with that, too! Our upholstery expert can give your business furniture the fresh new look you want.

If you aren't sure whether you should replace or reupholster, let us help you. Our experts can partner with you to decide which option is the best for your business.

Give us a call at 1-312-829-4040, email us at, or visit us online






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