Ditch or Repair: What to Do with Old Furniture
Like most household items, furniture has a lifespan. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace your favourite couch, dining room chairs or coffee table when they start showing signs of wear and tear. There’s always the option of repair or refinish.
Reupholstering is a good option for fabric furniture that’s looking worn or where seat and back cushions are losing their support. It often involves stripping the piece down to the frame and replacing all the fabric, springs, foam and webbing.
There are times, however, when an entire piece may not need to be reupholstered. Take, for example, leather chairs and sofas. The headrest and arms of these furnishings are prone to fading. In such cases, it’s best to treat the problem area only. This involves cleaning, sanding to a smooth finish, airbrushing to match the rest of the piece and then sealing to bring the faded leather area back to its original state.
If upholstery damage is minimal and relatively unnoticeable, such as a torn seam, then blind stitching is the preferred repair method. The thread should be heavy and ideally match the colour of the fabric; however, if done properly, the thread colour won’t be seen.
Furniture with scratches and gouges can be refinished. This involves removing the paint or varnish to re-expose the wood grain and then making minor repairs. For scratches, a water-based dye may be wiped over the affected areas to hide imperfections. More severe damage like gouges may require the use of melt sticks or wood epoxy. These fillers can be sanded and stained so they blend right in. However, they work best if the furniture piece is in good condition overall.
Restoring old furniture can give you many more years of enjoyment, is often a fraction of the cost of buying new and saves the trouble of replacement. It also allows homeowners to give damaged furniture a new lease on life. For example, a table that has lost a leg can find new purpose as a console in an entryway or hallway.
But is it worth it?
Well, that depends on the furniture’s craftsmanship and quality. (In other words, I wouldn’t bother if its from Leon’s.)
If you decide to repair or restore, it’s best to hire a professional than going the do-it-yourself route. Professional restoration costs can vary widely as they’re dependent on a variety of factors, including the type of furniture, condition of the piece, time and effort required to repair it, and hourly, daily or per piece rate.