Upholstery or Slipcovers?

When you want a fresh look, which is better?

By FamilyTime


Does the furniture in your living room look dated? Are your dining room chairs stained and worn? Would your bedroom look prettier with a better-looking easy chair?


If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may be in market for new upholstery. Or, wait! Should that be new slipcovers?



When you upholster a piece of furniture, you replace its covering with fabric that is permanently in place. It cannot be removed and therefore must be cleaned on the piece.


Upholstering a chair or sofa also may involve rebuilding or repairing the frame and replacing or refilling pillows and cushions.


When done right, the upholstered furniture is as good as new, or maybe better than ever! But while getting it to this point may be less expensive than buying new furniture, it is costly.



Slipcovers may be ready-made or they may be custom fitted to the furniture. The former are loose and flowing, sold through retail stores or on the Internet and usually are in one piece.


Ready-made slipcovers drape over furniture and require tying and tucking to look neat and attractive. When you buy them, you don’t have a wide choice of fabric color or design but for some uses, they are an economical solution.


Custom-made slipcovers are made to fit your furniture snugly and perfectly. Usually, slipcovers are not as expensive as upholstery but they represent a significant investment nonetheless.


Rebuilding the furniture or re-making the cushions is not part of the slipcovering process. If your furniture needs that kind of work, you will have to contract for it and figure the price accordingly.


When you select the fabric, you have a wide choice of style and color, although heavier fabric is generally reserved for upholstery. It does not work for slipcovers.


Slipcovers can be removed from the furniture and dry-cleaned. They can be removed to expose the previous upholstered fabric, which if it’s in good shape means you can change the appearance of the room from season to season.


Which Is Best?

Whether to upholster or slipcover is a personal choice. Because slipcovers tend to cost a little less than upholstery, that might be the deciding factor.


The choice is yours. Consider the fabric, the condition of your furniture and whether it needs some rebuilding. Think of your lifestyle and how the room is used. You may find the best course is to upholster some pieces and slipcover the rest.