We use furniture on a daily basis throughout our entire lives, so here are the most crucial points to ponder when buying a new upholstered piece of furniture.
Do Your Research!
Quality furniture goes deeper than looks and that is why two identical looking pieces can vary so much in price. What lies inside determines how your piece rates for quality. These three questions can help you judge the quality of upholstered furniture to make an informed decision.
What Type Of Wood Is The Frame Constructed With?
- Inexpensive furniture will commonly have engineered woods such as particleboard also called fibreboard or composition board, soft woods – kiln-dried or otherwise, low-quality plywoods and staples used in the frame construction.
- Top quality furniture will use kiln-dried hardwoods which removes almost all moisture which will prevent warping and bowing over time. These frames are made with about 2” thick pieces of hardwood, typically secured with dowels, screws and glue and are very tough. If you have one, hang onto it! High quality plywood with the minimum 11-13 layers, frames can be just as sturdy and structurally sound if properly glued together with flush and true construction and interlocking joints.
What Type Of Seating Support Is Used?
- Eight-way hand tied coil spring system is one of the best support systems you can get and is found in high end furniture as well as many antiques.
- Sinuous springs or no-sag springs are “S” shaped and used in all qualities of furniture. They are stretched from the front of your seat to the back and can be supported with paper or plastic wrapped wire and fastened with metal clips. This can make for strong seating, if done properly. One downside to paper or plastic wrapped wire is that it can weaken over time from excessive flexing and break off causing a noticeable loss of support. The wire can also slowly shift its way out its covering to create a hole in your material and padding if it’s not bent securely at each end. Helical springs are also used to support sinuous springs and can be found in higher quality pieces.
- Elastic furniture webbing, if installed correctly, with proper tension and enough pieces to form a good basket weave it can provide decent support in some higher quality pieces. Inexpensive furniture will have the bare minimum of
- Elastic webbing is the least preferable when it comes to seating support.
What Kind Of Padding And Foam Are Used In The Cushions?
- Most common filling is polyurethane – foam. The higher the density the firmer the cushion will feel. Foam can be wrapped in a variety of materials to either soften or fill out your cushions. Dacron wrapped foam is the cheapest option, but again it will not retain its shape and your cushions will look saggy in no time.
- Make sure you are getting a good quality high density foam in your piece. Sit on the furniture and try it. If it’s not comfortable then do not buy it! Rule of thumb is that as density increases, so does the quality of foam. Eco- friendly “green” and bio based foams are out there and it’s the only foams I will ever use.
- For a really soft and plush seat then down cushions are what you are looking for. Considered to be a premium choice and amongst the most expensive, high quality down cushions will have a baffled down proof ticking inner seat casing to prevent the feathers from poking through. Cushions filled with only down are high maintenance require frequent attention to maintain. You can get combination down/foam or other padding mixes but it’s another expensive option that requires a bit more care than just foam.
In the end, quality doesn’t come cheap, but a good quality piece of furniture purchased through a reputable retailer/manufacturer or reupholstered by a skilled tradesperson, will stay more comfortable and retain its looks for a very long time. So consider buying the best quality that you can afford.
All The Best,
High End Hardwood Frame With Proper Joinery And Sinuous No Sag Springs In Seat And Backrest
Low End Furniture Frame With Elastic Webbing
Baffled Seat Cushion Insert Being Hand Filled With Down Feathers
Old Foam Compared To New Foam