The Cost of Flipping an Open Armed Side Chair

On Monday, over on Instagram, I posed the question to my lovely followers how much they thought it would cost to flip this $9.99 Goodwill chair. Today, I’m breaking it down. Now remember, costs vary depending upon what part of the country you live in. I’m not estimating the cost an upholsterer would charge, but rather how much money would actually go into the tangible materials of the flip. Let’s take a look, and remember, we’re not including time (labor costs) in this estimate.

Teardown time: 3 hours

Assessment: 15 minutes

Repair: Possibly 1 hour

Reupholstery: Depending on skill level, approximately 2-3 days @ 4 hours per day (give or take)

We’re also assuming

Webbing: $8.00

Foam, seat and inside back: Estimating $20.00 for each piece of foam. 3″ for seat, 2″ for back

Dacron covering, seat and inside back: $4.00 for enough dacron for seat, inside back and outside back

Burlap: to attach to outside back before dacron and fabric $2.00

Fabric: 3 yards @ 26.00 per yard  $78.00 approx.

Cording: $2.99 for 10 yards total

Misc expenses: spray adhesive, staples, dust cover  $10.00

Approximate in materials, or the innards you’ll be putting into reupholstery of the chair: $144.99 + $9.99 for the chair.

If I was going to do the reupholstering of this chair, I might charge a client between $255 and $325. That may seem high to some of you, but to make it worth my while to strip and upholster this chair, along with the materials, I need to at least make $100.00, but preferably more. Some upholsterers charge by the hour, some charge by the yardage used and some just charge based on what the comps are for upholstery in the area where they’re working.

Now, if you’re able use good materials, but somehow find them for less, less, less, then you’re in business on flipping a chair like this one.

If I charged $295.00 and spent around $145.00 in materials, I could make $150.00. You know what, that wouldn’t be enough for me to put all of my time, energy, focus and passion into this makeover. I would start at $325.00 for the chair and then see what the interest is. If it’s a knockout, I’d be confident it would sell.

I still need to add in other costs, such as tools, overhead, transportation or shipping, advertising, etc. Those costs tend to be overlooked when you’re in the flipping business, not so much when you’re running a straight upholstery business.

Why is that?

Because we all tend to consider the furniture flipping business more of a hobby than a business! 

If you want to create and grow a sustainable furniture flipping business, you’ll need to make an adjustment in your thinking about your business and branding.

And don’t forget, in the right market, you could charge hundreds of dollars more for this chair if you truly create a one of a kind show stopper.

If you’re just looking to show off your upholstery skills, then a plain fabric and some fancy deep buttoning would be be the best backdrop to highlight your talent. In this case, you might sell the chair, but it will more likely do a better job driving custom upholstery business your direction.  And quite honestly, the upholstery isn’t even perfect on this little side chair, but neutral fabrics have the broadest market, so it would sell, but it could be found in many stores and for a very low price.


Now, on the other end of the spectrum, if you’re trying to create a brand look for which you want to be known, you’ll need to choose a more unique fabric that creates a stand out side chair-a showstopper!  Obviously, you’ll need to have some pretty great upholstery skills in your tool box, but you’ve seen the tv shows where the upholstery is atrocious, and somebody is still willing to spend top dollar for a semi interesting chair, whether it be the frame or the fabric.

Here’s a fabric from one of my favorite UK brands, Timorous Beasties. A chair done up in this fancy fabric could command a very nice price tag.


The takeaway is that in the world of furniture flipping, there’s a robust market for all kinds of flips- low priced, high priced, neutral and common, or unique, exceptional and one of a kind. In the end, you’ll need to make a profit from your flips in order to sustain your business and keep having fun.