How to Choose the Best Upholsterer


Whether you plan to purchase new upholstery or want to recover a sturdy old piece of furniture that your family has had for years, it is going to cost you a good deal of money. To make sure you get value for every cent spent, you need to choose the right upholsterer in your area.

No, it isn’t as simple as running a Google search. Although online research is helpful, you can’t possibly know if someone appearing on the first page of Google’s search results is as great as they claim on their website, Pinterest or Instagram.

You can start by asking your relatives, friends, and colleagues for recommendations. Next, you can check customer-facing review platforms such as Yelp, HomeAdvisor, AngiesList, etc. to create a list of potential candidates.

Now, you need to follow some tried-and-tested tips to find the best upholsterer.

1. Do They Provide A Quote In Writing?

First things first, always ask an upholsterer under consideration to provide a quote in writing. Do not make assumptions based on a verbal conversation.

An upholstery project quotation should clearly mention the project timeframe, cost, payment terms, warrantees, and the type, color, pattern of fabric.  

If any furniture repairs are needed, whether related to the frame or something else, make sure it’s included in the quote.

2. Can They Complete Your Upholstery Project On Time?

You may come across upholsterers who say they could try to ‘fit’ your upholstery job in. If you need a piece of furniture upholstered by a certain date, let them know about the ‘hard deadline’ upfront.

If you need a sofa ready for a family get together or have some plans, make sure the upholsterer knows this before you sign on the dotted line.

Some tradesmen have the habit of taking on more work than they can handle. When you are on a deadline, steer clear of them.

3. Do They Provide Custom Fabric Options?

Many upholsterers have working relationships with fabric suppliers and mills. Some may advise you to choose from a list of fabric options.

While all upholsterers should advise their clients on selecting the right kind of fabric, they shouldn’t force you to work with their suppliers.

You should have the option of bringing your own fabric whether you are customizing a new reclining chair or a headboard for your king-size bed.

Customers should, however, consult those with experience in undertaking upholstery projects before finalizing a fabric.

The choice of fabric has a crucial say in not just how a piece looks and feels but also how it will wear over the years and the type of cleaning method it will require.

4. Ask to See Some the Work They Have Completed

Before and after

Most of the established upholsterers in your area will have a large photo portfolio. However, they may not have many upholstered furniture items in their stores or workshops on display.

So, make sure to check some of their ongoing upholstery projects. There may be some projects that have just begun and others that are nearing completion.

Upholsterers don’t normally allow visitors to walk around freely in their workshops for various reasons but they should be willing to give you a walk through.

When an upholsterer provides you with a walk-through, don’t rush through it. Spend a few minutes looking closely at some pieces to assess the craftsmanship.

  • A finished piece of upholstered furniture should not have any unnecessary bulges and puckers.
  • In case there is a (fabric) pattern on a finished sofa or chair – whether the pattern is stripe, floral, or something else – it should match correctly, especially on the front seam of cushions.
  • Stripes, if any, should line up well.
  • Patterns on both sides of cushions should run in the same direction
  • Patterns should match as they wrap a sofa or a bench.
  • Check if nail-heads on a finished piece are completely linear.
  • Are zippers really hidden? They should be!
  • What about the piping – is it straight? It should be.
  • Piping seams should begin and end in hidden areas.

If you visit an upholsterer’s place of business and they have literally ‘nothing’ to show you in person other than a printed catalogue or a digital portfolio, consider it a red flag.

Any upholsterer worth his salt will always have something in their inventory.

5. Consider the Number of Years They Have Been In Business

Avoid selecting an upholsterer who has just begun offering their services in your area. Look for upholsterers who have been in business for at least two or three years.

You are likely to get better results if you choose upholsterers who have nurtured a loyal clientele over the years.

For big upholstery projects, you can even ask upholsterers to provide you with a list of their recent clients.

6. Upholstery Specialization

Not all upholstery projects are the same. Some upholsterers may have carved out a niche for themselves. For some companies or individual upholsters, automotive work or marine upholstery may form the bulk of their clientele. Others may specialize in working with vintage furniture items.

You can even find upholsterers who specialize in upholstery restoration work. So, if you have a period piece, you may want to find such upholsterers in your area. They are more likely to deliver satisfactory results.

7. Do they provide a Guarantee/Warranty?

If an upholsterer is good, they will most likely offer some sort of guarantee. An established upholsterer may offer a limited period warranty on their work. They may even promise to carry out any changes, if necessary, at no additional cost.

8. Do They Communicate Well?

Are your questions being answered? Are they keen to help you understand the fabric options? Do they seem knowledgeable?

Choose an upholsterer who knows how to communicate well.

Final Words

Choosing or working with an upholsterer isn’t difficult. Hopefully, with above-mentioned tips, you can make an informed decision. Lastly, remember that an experienced upholsterer may have all the necessary skills but you still need to communicate your ideas, taste, and style needs right in the beginning. 

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