How-to: Determine the Quality of a Sofa


A sofa is an investment piece of furniture that, when built right, can last for years. We all want a piece that looks great, but before you spend your hard-earned money on a new sofa, make sure you're bringing home a piece that's as durable as it is stylish.


Instead of taking a leap of faith, understand what's inside a sofa and how the quality of these components determine whether it'll last 20 years or if it will fall apart after four.


THE FRAME

Just like we need strong bones, a sofa needs a sturdy frame. Look for these qualities to determine if the frame of a sofa is built to last:


  • Kiln-dried. Kiln drying removes all moisture from the wood, which prevents warping and allows the frame to maintain its shape.

  • Hardwood. Look for frames made of slower growing, denser hardwoods like alder, poplar, maple, teak, and walnut. These are going to do a better job holding staples, nails, glue, and joinery in place.

  • Joinery. These are all the bits and pieces that hold a frame together. Most manufacturers will use a combination of glue, screws, dowels, corner blocks, and staples. These all work together to ensure the frame is perfectly square & that it won't wobble or twist out of shape.


SEATING SUPPORT

A sturdy frame ensures a sofa that’s durable, but a well-constructed suspension system ensures a sofa is comfortable its entire life. Here are the four most common systems found in sofas:


  • Webbing is a light-weight, inexpensive suspension system that consists of bands of fabric attached to the back and seat of the frame. This system is less durable than the others, and can often lead to sagging.

  • Drop-in coils are mounted to a grid and then inserted & installed to the frame. The quality of these can vary, so test it out by listening for squeaks while sitting and shifting.

  • Sinuous springs are the most common support system in mid-range sofas. Made with steel wire bent into a continuous zig-zag & reinforced with horizontal metal tie rods, this system is the perfect mix of comfortable, affordable, and durable.

  • Eight-way hand-tied is considered the best suspension system on the market. Springs inside the sofa are individually hand-tied to the frame & each other eight ways: front to back, side to side, and diagonally. This offers continuous support and prevents the suspension from shifting.


CUSHIONS

Arguably the most subjective element of a sofa, cushion preference varies person to person. Do you love sinking into a cloud-like sofa? Or maybe you prefer a firmer, more structured seat. Generally, you’ll find four cushion options to choose from:


  • Foam is a popular filling material that comes in a variety of densities. The higher the density, the firmer the cushions will be. Foam cushions are usually wrapped in polyester with a tight-weave down-proof ticking, resulting in a low-maintenance cushion that does not require fluffling.

  • Down. This filling gives cushions sink-in plushness perfect for lounging. Cushions can either be 100% down, or a down-blend encasing a foam core. Either way, these cushions do require rotating, flipping, and fluffing as they will flatten with use.

  • Innerspring. Built directly into the frame, these cushions aren’t removable and often give a sofa more “bounce”, like a mattress.


There are a lot of variables that go into making a high-quality piece of furniture, and by taking the time to do just a little research your furniture will be just as comfortable in 10 years as it was the day you brought it home.


Although we encourage research, there’s no need for you to become an expert! Meet with one of our design consultants, who have the knowledge to help you make the right decision.

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