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Furniture Refinishing: DIY vs Pro

If you have some old furniture that requires new life, don’t throw it away – consider furniture refinishing/reupholstering instead! Not only is this more cost-effective than buying brand new furniture, but it also lets you express your creativity. All you need to do is decide between doing so yourself (DIY) or hiring a professional company. 

In this article we will compare the overall budget, installation quality, and convenience of DIY furniture refinishing vs hiring a professional company to refinish your old furniture. 

Click on each corresponding link to jump ahead:

  1. Budget – DIY projects can cost more if you do not know what you are doing. 
  2. Installation Quality – Professionals deliver consistent and high quality results. 
  3. Convenience – Hiring professionals for furniture refinishing saves you time and energy.  

If you have some old furniture that you want to bring back to life, contact Graham’s & Son Interiors for a free consultation

Furniture Refinishing

Continue reading to learn more about DIY furniture refinishing vs hiring a professional company. 

1. Budget

The cost comparison between a do-it-yourself (DIY) furniture refinishing or reupholstery project and hiring a professional company can vary significantly based on several factors. 

While DIY projects are typically cheaper in terms of labour costs, they may require you to invest in tools, materials, and potentially more time. On the other hand, hiring a professional company ensures a high-quality finish but can be significantly more expensive due to labour and service costs. Click here to learn more about the cost of reupholstery. 

Here are some factors to consider when comparing the budgets for these two options:

A) Labour Costs

DIY projects save on labour costs, as you will be providing the labour yourself. However, it’s important to consider the value of your own time and the learning curve involved in refinishing or reupholstering furniture.

For example, DIY projects can take longer due to inexperience and your overall flexibility. It is easy to push DIY projects to the side and make mistakes along the way. However, hiring a professional company to refinish your furniture ensures they meet their completion date on time and deliver a quality product.

B) Material Costs

DIY projects often require you to purchase or own a variety of materials, such as:

  • Stripping agents: Chemicals or products designed to remove old paint, varnish, or finish from the furniture.
  • Sanding materials: Sandpaper, sanding sponges, or sanding blocks of various grits to smooth the surface and prepare it for refinishing.
  • Wood fillers: Used to fill in any gaps, holes, or cracks in the wood before refinishing.
  • Stains: Depending on the desired look, you’ll need appropriate stains or paints for wood furniture. Make sure to choose products that are suitable for the type of wood you’re working with.
  • Finishes: Varnishes, polyurethane, or lacquer for sealing and protecting the wood.
  • Primer: If you’re painting the furniture, you may need a primer to help the paint adhere properly.
  • Protective gear: Gloves, masks, and safety glasses for protection during the refinishing process.

These costs can vary depending on the quality of materials and the scale of your project. Professional companies will most likely have access to wholesale materials, which can reduce costs, but their cost of service will reflect this.

Purchase the right materials to make sure you achieve your desired look. 

C) Equipment Costs

Refinishing or reupholstering furniture may require specific tools and equipment, such as: 

  • Sandpaper: Used for smoothing the surface and removing the old finish.
  • Putty knife: Helps in removing old paint or finish during the stripping process.
  • Paintbrushes: Depending on the type of finish you’re applying, you may need brushes or a spray gun for an even application.
  • Tack cloth: Used for removing dust and debris from the surface before applying paint or finish.
  • Drop cloth: To protect your work area from spills and drips.
  • Rags: Used for applying stains, paints, or finishes and for wiping off excess material.
  • Dust masks: Ensure proper ventilation in your workspace and wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling harmful chemicals or wood dust.

DIY projects will require you to purchase or rent some or all of these tools, which can add to the overall cost. Professional companies already have the necessary equipment, so you won’t need to invest in any tools.

2. Installation Quality

Hiring a professional company ensures high quality!

The installation quality of a DIY furniture refinishing/reupholstery project can differ significantly from that of a professional company. 

Here’s a comparison of the installation quality between the two options:

A) DIY Furniture Refinishing

Varied Results

The quality of the installation can be highly variable in a DIY project, depending on the individual’s skills, experience, and attention to detail. For beginners, there might be inconsistencies in the finish, such as:

  • Uneven paint application
  • Visible brush strokes
  • inconsistent upholstery

Make sure you know what you are doing prior to taking on a DIY project. Check out our blog, How to Reupholster a Chair to learn more.

Learning Curve 

DIY projects often involve a learning curve, especially for those new to furniture refinishing or reupholstery. Without prior experience, there’s a higher likelihood of making mistakes that could affect the overall quality of the installation, such as:

  • Insufficient surface preparation
  • Using the wrong products 
  • Overlooking protective gear 
  • Rushing the drying process
  • Not testing products
  • Neglecting ventilation 

To avoid these mistakes, it’s crucial to thoroughly research the refinishing process, follow best practices, and take your time to ensure each step is executed carefully.


DIY projects can offer a high degree of customization and personalization, allowing you to experiment with various techniques and styles. While this can be advantageous, it also means that the final quality of the installation might be influenced by your level of expertise and creativity.

Durability and Longevity 

The durability and longevity of the installation in a DIY project can be influenced by the techniques and materials used. Inexperienced DIYers might not use the most suitable products or methods, which can affect the long-term durability of the finish or upholstery.

DIY projects allow you to work at your own pace and customize however you like. 

B) Hiring a Professional Company for Furniture Refinishing

Consistent and High Quality Results

Professional companies have skilled craftsmen with expertise in furniture refinishing and reupholstery. They can deliver consistent and high-quality results, ensuring that the installation meets professional standards and is aesthetically pleasing.

Experience and Knowledge 

Professional companies have extensive experience in handling various types of furniture and materials. Their knowledge of the best practices and techniques in refinishing and reupholstery ensures that the installation is of the highest quality and is built to last.

Attention to Detail 

Professional companies pay close attention to detail, ensuring that every aspect of the installation, from surface preparation to the final touches, is meticulously executed. This attention to detail results in a refined and flawless finish.

Warranty and Guarantee 

Professional companies often provide warranties or guarantees on their work, assuring you of the quality and durability of the installation. This can give you peace of mind, knowing that the work is backed by the company’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

In summary, while a DIY project allows for personal creativity and experimentation, hiring a professional company ensures a consistent, high-quality installation that is executed with precision and expertise. When considering the installation quality, it’s essential to weigh your skill level, the complexity of the project, and the desired long-term durability of the furniture.

3. Convenience

Hiring a professional company to refinish your furniture is much more convenient than doing so yourself. 

The convenience of doing a DIY furniture refinishing/reupholstery project versus hiring a professional company involves several factors that can significantly impact your overall experience. 

Here is a comparison of the convenience aspects for both options:

A) DIY Furniture Refinishing


DIY projects provide flexibility in terms of scheduling and pacing. You can work on the project at your own convenience and adjust the timeline according to your availability and other commitments.

Learning Opportunity 

Engaging in a DIY project offers an opportunity to learn new skills and techniques. This can be a fulfilling and educational experience, especially if you have a passion for crafts and enjoy hands-on activities.

Control Over the Process 

DIY projects give you complete control over every step of the refinishing or reupholstery process. You can personally oversee the project, make adjustments as needed, and ensure that your vision for the furniture is realized.

Cost Control

DIY projects can help you control costs, as you have the freedom to choose materials and tools based on your budget. You can also avoid labour costs associated with hiring professionals, potentially reducing the overall expenses.

Upholstery allows you to take those boring old foot stools and make them something special! 

B) Hiring a Professional Company for Furniture Refinishing


Hiring a professional company can save you a significant amount of time and effort. Professionals are equipped with the necessary skills and tools to complete the project efficiently, allowing you to focus on other tasks or activities.

Expertise and Efficiency 

Professional companies have the expertise and experience to handle refinishing or reupholstery projects seamlessly. They can efficiently manage the entire process, from initial assessment to final installation, ensuring a hassle-free experience for you.

Reduced Physical Effort 

Furniture refinishing/reupholstery projects can be physically demanding. Hiring professionals eliminates the need for you to engage in strenuous activities, particularly if the furniture is bulky or requires complex restoration.

Quality Assurance 

Professional companies offer a guarantee of quality workmanship and results. You can expect a high standard of craftsmanship and attention to detail, providing you with peace of mind that the project will be completed to your satisfaction.

Overall, when considering convenience, it’s essential to evaluate your own availability, skill level, and the extent of your desired involvement in the project. While a DIY project provides flexibility and a learning opportunity, hiring a professional company can save you time, effort, and potential stress, ensuring a convenient and efficient furniture refinishing or reupholstery experience.

For Furniture Refinishing, Trust Graham's & Son Interiors

Do you have old beat up furniture? Don’t throw it out, let Graham’s give it new life through their premium Cambridge upholstery and refinishing service instead. If you would like to refinish some of your old furniture, or if you have any questions regarding , contact the professionals at Graham’s & Son.

With almost 50 years of experience in the home interior industry, you’ll appreciate our knowledge of quality products and the customer service you receive when you work with us. We provide Free In-Home Consultations and take care of all measurements, product ordering, and installation. Contact us today.

"Great experience working with Graham's & Son Interiors. Highly recommend their services. We had excellent service, advice and workmanship right from quote to job completion. All the staff, the owner, project manager, store staff and installers were incredible to work with. Excellent customer service and quality workmanship. Thank you for your help, patience for a job well done!!"
Karen, Darnell.