Quality Construction - Anatomy of a Sofa
Let’s face it, furniture is an investment. Most people hold on to a sofa for 10 years or more. But as an occasional shopper, how do you figure out if the sofa that caught your eye will make it for the long haul? There are telltale clues that help you determine if the furniture you are looking at has been built to last.
Frame & Construction
A good foundation is the first thing to check. You want to look for a quality frame with hardwood construction that won’t warp, bend or crack over the years. Look for hardwoods and steer clear of particle board, soft wood, plastic or metal.
Learn how the frame is put together. Look at the manufacturing information; you’ll want to see terms like mortise and tenon frame construction, reinforced corner blocks, wooden dowels or even metal screws and brackets. These are joinery techniques that will withstand years of use (and abuse). Never go for a sofa whose frame is just stapled or glued together. No matter how much you love it today, you’ll end up hating it in a year or two when the arms get wiggly as the low quality construction starts to fail.
Seating & Comfort System
A sofa will typically have springs on top of the frame to support the cushions. Most common is the sinuous springs (sometimes referred to as serpentine springs). You’ll want to test the springs to see that they are comfortable, supportive and fairly close together. Cheaply made springs of low gauge wire can bend or sag over time. Some lower end sofas don’t have springs at all, just mesh or webbing. These tend to be stiff and uncomfortable and won’t hold up to daily use.
Seat & Back Cushions
Higher density foams will last longer than lower density foams, but they can feel too firm. Polyester fiber is less expensive, but flattens quickly. An ideal compromise is high density foam that is wrapped and softened with soft foam and/or polyester fiber. Some high end sofas will incorporate down, just realize that while these are ultra-comfy, they will usually require frequent fluffing to reallocate the down which tends to move and clump.
Upholstery - Fabric & Leather
Under the upholstery or leather, you’ll want to make sure there is padding over the frame. This not only adds to the luxurious feel of the sofa, but also protects the outer upholstery from unnecessary wear and tear. Select a tightly woven, durable fabric. Loose weaves can wear out quickly and snag easily. Synthetic microfiber “suede” fabrics have become increasingly popular since they are both budget friendly and stain resistant. Cottons and linens should be treated with fabric protection to resist staining. Leather is a more expensive than fabrics but long lasting option that can be more resistant to absorb odors and stains. To ensure longevity, look for full grain or top grain leather.
A manufacturer’s warranty on your sofa selection can help set your mind at ease. Most reputable manufactures will offer warranties. Find out what is offered on the pieces that you considering.