Choosing Between Antique Furniture Restoration, Refurbishing, or Reupholstering

One of the most important reasons consumers buy fine furniture is its quality craftsmanship, which can last centuries. Antique furniture restoration, refurbishing, and reupholstering are important investments that will improve antique furniture endurance, value, and workmanship.

Should You Restore, Refurbish, or Reupholster Antique Furniture?

When it comes to retaining or increasing the value of antique furniture, you will likely consider whether it is best to restore, refurbish, or reupholster. While restoration and refurbishing are similar as they involve both the framework and materials, reupholstering replaces the fabrics.

  • Antique restoration is a process that refinishes something to its original condition. This can include anything from a home to furniture or antiques. Often, new materials may be used to restore certain areas, but they must meet rigorous conditions to ensure restorers meet high-end restoration practices. This also ensures that antique furniture retains or increases in market value.
  • Antique furniture refurbishing is a process that may include a complete revamp or may include parts, pieces, paint, or staining being altered or replaced. Refurbishing may add or remove elements that detract from a piece’s beauty. This can be a great way to revitalize and modernize dated antique designs.
  • Antique furniture reupholstering is a process that replaces upholstery materials. The frame will be cleaned and repaired before the new upholstery is applied. Fabrics can include the outer material and padding made of linen, cotton, nylon, wool, rayon, acrylic, polyester, hemp, polypropylene, thread, or leather.

If you are unsure of which service you need, antique appraisals are excellent in identifying current value as well as tips on how restoration, refurbishment, or reupholstering will help. At Manzi’s, you also have a chance to ask questions about long-term antique furniture preservation.

How Do Wear and Tear, Climate, & Storage Affect Antique Furniture?

Antique furniture, especially pieces made of quality wood, has a reputation for durability, so with a bit of maintenance and care, it retains value or increases value depending on preservation. Common causes of damage include inappropriate handling, environmental conditions, and improper care and cleaning, so here are a few things to know about how they affect valuation.

Tips For Retaining Value of Antique Furniture

  • Improper Usage and Handling

It should not be a surprise that improper usage and handling top the list of things that decrease an antique’s value. We often move around furniture and cause scratches, dings, dents, and breaks. Antique furniture should be picked up in the sturdiest areas.

Wear and tear is also something to take notice of as people tend to sit drinks on wood cabinets or tables, which can affect the furniture’s finishing. Using coasters and other external protectants will reduce the risk of causing moisture-damaged surface areas.

  • Environmental Factors

When it comes to antique furniture, it is not unusual to see aging and color fading or darkening due to environmental factors. If you put antique furniture in the path of bright sunlight, costly damage can occur. Heat can also soften furniture finishing and result in brittle and cracked exteriors. Cool, dark areas are best when storing pieces.

Summer: Less than 65% Humidity and 75 Degrees (23.8 Celsius)

Winter: Less Than 45% Humidity and 70 Degrees (21.1 Celsius)

Temperature and moisture can also affect antique furniture. As most antique pieces are made of porous wood types, it causes warping and swelling. In dry environments, the wood shrinks and leads to structural fracturing as well as inlay and finish lifting.

  • Improper Maintenance and Cleaning

Maintenance and cleaning are often seen as daily tasks, but too much of it can severely damage antique furniture. Using harsh chemical cleaners can also lead to serious damage to porous materials and finishing. For this reason, many antique owners rely on professional restorers to handle this task to retain original finishes.

If you prefer to do the maintenance yourself, you should first dust antique pieces with a soft material (brush, cloth, vacuum nozzle). Try to avoid moist cleaning, especially if the wood is unfinished. If required, use a diluted cleaner and dry thoroughly. You may wax sporadically but only use high-quality made products.

How Does Restoring, Refurbishing, or Reupholstering Affect Valuations?

Restoration, refurbishing, and reupholstering are services that retain or add value. They can also be seen as investments when pieces need reviving. The key is to understand each method and choose the one that will refinish antique furniture as close to its initial structural form and feel.

It is the reason that antique furniture collectors rely on antique appraisals to choose a method. To learn more, call 617-948-2577 or visit us at