Before You Buy Furniture

Before you buy fine furniture, take the time to do some research.

Consider the space that you have available in the rooms you are furnishing. Have a tape measure handy and a list of the measurements that you want for each piece of furniture while you’re shopping. In addition, think about doorways, stairwells, the availability of elevators and balconies for moving furniture into your home. An oversized mattress box spring might need to be “split,” or cut in half, by the store. An oversized couch may not be an option unless you have an oversized door!

If you’re buying for a home office, look for fine furniture that’s well-built, ergonomically designed and suited to your work needs. If you’re buying furniture for your home, look for comfort, durability and solid construction. Make sure to ask about available days and times for delivery before you make your purchase; you might get your furniture delivered more quickly you include it in the deal. And, find out how long it will take to complete customized design or alterations. Many companies will customize orders from swatches or even photographs.

Before You Buy Fine Furniture: Comparing Furniture Prices and Alternatives

Before you buy fine furniture, there are a few things that you should consider. Keep in mind that furniture financing options may make a difference in how much you spend. You may have a year or more to pay off a large piece of real wood furniture or a furniture set. But stick to your furniture budget regardless of available financing options. It’s all too easy to fall in love when you’re buying fine furniture and very easy to fall for “no payments for 5 years” rhetoric; in the end, you always pay, either through higher prices or higher interest rates. Set your emotions aside and don’t overextend yourself. Even if you’ve found the “perfect” furniture set, comparing prices at other stores or websites may yield a better deal or at least grant you leverage in negotiations.

Compare Furniture Prices Before You Buy

Compare prices for furniture online and in stores before you buy. And, ask friends, family members and business colleagues for their recommendations about where to buy furniture. Questions to ask might include: Do you feel like you got the best deal when you bought your real wood furniture? Where the retailers service-minded or did they forget about you after you wrote the check? Did you compare prices for similar pieces of furniture with other retailers? You might unearth some issues that you hadn’t contemplated that will help you make a more informed furniture purchase.

More Ways to Get the Best Prices on Furniture

June and July are traditionally the months when indoor furniture goes on sale. Conversely, compare prices for patio furniture in the summer and winter and you’ll quickly find that costs are cut in the winter months. You can avoid middlemen when you buy furniture directly from a manufacturer, such as www.firstathome.com. You’ll get the benefit of the manufacturer’s low overhead costs and the highest quality furniture at rock bottom prices. Buying unfinished wood furniture is also another alternative to saving money for a quality piece. You’ll have to seal, stain or paint the wood yourself but sweat equity costs nothing.

Alternatives to Consider When Comparing Furniture Prices

Consider the pros and cons of buying used furniture made of real wood. You may get a better deal by buying used furniture as long as you can live without a warranty. Outlet malls sometimes have great deals on real wood furniture, especially in January and July. Be aware that the furniture for sale in an outlet mall may have been returned, so carefully check it over for any defects and ask the salespeople if they know the history of the piece.

Wheeling and Dealing Your Way to Better Prices on Real Wood Furniture

Don’t be afraid to ask for a better price when you’re thinking about spending a lot of money on real wood furniture in one store. Furniture stores often offer on-the-spot discounts, especially at the end of the month when they need to make their sales quotas. Make sure to clarify that you still want to finance the furniture for same as cash or zero percent financing regardless of the deal.
If you buy furniture online, ask about financing options before you make your purchase. Make sure that you understand and agree with all shipping and handling costs, including costs to return the furniture if necessary.

When You’re Ready to Buy Fine Furniture: Finding the Right Retailer

Make sure you find a reputable furniture retailer when you’re ready to buy. Find a furniture company that produces each piece of real wood furniture in their own factory warehouse. They’re very knowledgeable about the furniture they create, they use superior craftsmanship in their designs and they can offer great deals by selling directly to you.
You should only work with furniture companies that provide top-notch customer service. You’ll get a feel for this quickly when you call to compare prices on furniture. Look for furniture retailers who employ helpful, friendly, informed salespeople and customer service representatives.

Research Your Furniture Retailer to Find Out More

Research a furniture retailer’s reputation before you buy. Check the Better Business Bureau to see if any reports have been filed against the company. Online message boards, customer testimonials and recommendations from friends and family can also tell you a lot about a company’s reputation. And if you’re buying real wood furniture online, look for indications that the website is secure. This should be clearly indicated on the furniture company’s website.

Furniture Return Policies, Warranties and Guarantees

Find out what sort of warranties and guarantee a furniture company offers before you buy. Make sure the furniture warranty and the guarantee suit your specific needs and address your unique concerns. You should be able to return furniture or get a replacement if it arrives with any sort of defect. Look for lenient return policies that allow you to return the furniture if it wasn’t what you wanted. Note that custom made pieces and sale items may not be returnable. Finally, keep all of your receipts from your furniture purchase; you may need them in the event of a return or for the warranty.

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Furniture Construction

Things to Look For Before You Buy Upholstered or Leather Furniture

Before you buy furniture like upholstered or leather sofas, loveseats, dining room or bedroom sets, make sure you are first familiar with the basics of high quality wood furniture construction. Get to know the difference between solid wood furniture and average furniture of lesser quality. Look for furniture made of fine wood, like oak or mahogany. Closely examine furniture tags or websites to learn more about the construction of the furniture you want to buy. You might (no, you will!) pay more for high quality wood furniture, but it’s worth

it in the long run- the furniture’s strength, durability and comfort ensures it will last for decades.

Learn more about what you need to know before you buy furniture with help from Stuff about Furniture’s contributors.

Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York tells us about buying furniture with high quality frames and Catherine Woods of Mobulls in West Plains, Missouri provides helpful information on how to find the best upholstered wood furniture and more.

High Quality Wood Furniture Frames

“We’ve spent a lot of time and money redecorating our home over the last several years. And we learned some valuable tips that helped us to find high quality wood furniture that’s durable, well-made and built to last,” says Darrin Gleeman.

When you shop for furniture, take the time to conduct a close inspection of what you want to buy. Shake and move the furniture frames whether it’s a sofa, loveseat, chair or bed. Listen for creaking or movement of any kind when you sit or lie on the furniture. Pick up one end of the furniture piece and move it back and forth in the showroom. Does it feel like heavy, solid wood furniture or does it feel lightweight? Look under the furniture too. Are the legs separate pieces or are they firmly connected to the frame?

High quality wood furniture has a frame made with kiln-dried hardwoods like alder, oak, mahogany birch or maple woods. Kiln-dried furniture heats the wood, removing excess sap and moisture which can warp or shrink the wood. Once a frame loses its original shape, it loosens the joints and fastenings. Over time, that piece of solid wood furniture piece becomes unsteady and unsafe. Look for wood frames constructed of the finest kiln-dried solid wood and built with interlocking wood components, glue and screws that match industry standards for high quality furniture. And frames should be double-doweled or interlocked and fitted with wood blocks that are glued and screwed into place.

After you buy your furniture, place it in an area that isn’t subjected to wide temperature swings. Keep furniture away from windows, heating systems, air conditioners and vents.

Finally, if you’re buying furniture online, call or email the company and ask them about its durability, weight, and measurements as well as the company’s furniture shipping policy. Does the company deliver the furniture themselves or use a respected furniture delivery company? And will the furniture deliverer unpackage the furniture and warranty any transportation damage? Find out what sort of wood they use, and ask about wood frame construction. A reputable seller of high quality furniture will be able to answer your questions and put your mind at ease before you buy.

Upholstered Wood Furniture Basics by Catherine Woods of Mobulls in West Plains, Missouri

There’s more to buying furniture than just finding something that you like, or that fits into a room in your home. High quality upholstered wood furniture has specific elements of design that are always evident in construction. Look for a sturdy deck, well-made springs and durable cushions and slipcovers in couches and loveseats. And consider a sleeper sofa, loveseat or chair or leather furniture for a long-term investment the whole family will love.

Upholstered Wood Furniture Construction

Upholstered wood furniture features a deck, the area underneath the sitting cushions that looks and feels like a mattress box spring. The deck is the foundation for sitting support and comfort. High quality furniture decks are made of springs. The highest quality deck springs are made of 8-way, hand tied springs or S-shaped sinuous springs. Without this support, your furniture will cause discomfort and long-term back and joint pain.

Eight-way, hand tied springs have polypropylene sheets stapled to webbing on the bottom of the solid wood furniture. The springs are tied with twine at the top to prevent shifting and collapsing. Sinuous S-shaped steel springs in your upholstered wood furniture indicate expert and quality craftsmanship. S-shaped sinuous springs are two-dimensional S-shaped steel wires that stretch from the front to the back of the furniture. The S-shaped sinuous springs make seats softer and are often used in low-slung contemporary upholstered furniture.

Lesser quality average furniture decks are pieced together with tacked or stapled straps. If you look inside or underneath your furniture, you might see helical springs attaching the deck to the frame. To determine if the sofa or loveseat you like is made with good quality springs, sit down on the furniture or rock it back and forth in the showroom. Listen for a thumping or a knocking noise indicating that the springs may be rubbing against the frame. If you’re buying furniture online, contact the company and ask them about how the deck is made.

Cushions for Upholstered Wood Furniture

Furniture cushions on upholstered wood furniture are typically made of cotton or polyester fiber, polyester foam or polyester down. Look for furniture that’s constructed with durable, heavy high-density polyurethane foam cushions. Polyurethane foam cushions are wrapped in Dacron batting, making the cushions more luxurious and providing you with not just added plush comfort but comfort that will not diminish for years.

Slipcovers for Upholstered Wood Furniture

Popular fabric selections for upholstered wood furniture include cotton, linen, chenille, velvet, suede and mohair. Choose the fabric covering that’s best for your needs. If you have children, sturdy cotton duck might be the best option for you. Fabric slipcovers are a marvelous option for covering your wood furniture. Look for slipcovers that can be machine washed or easily removed and dry cleaned. Sitting on a couch or loveseat with a freshly cleaned slipcover is heavenly; not worrying about daily spills and messes is divine.

Consider Buying A Sleeper Sofa, Loveseat or Chair

The sleeper sofas of today are a far cry from the ones produced 20 years ago. Comfortable, stylish and easy to open and close, a sleeper sofa gives you the flexibility of a couch combined with the authentic feel of a bed. In addition, pull-out sleeper furniture comes in loveseat and chair form. Today, you can find sleeper furniture in twin, full or queen bed sizes, so they can easily fit into any room in your home. Look for specs on sleeper sofas to include solid steel tubing, a polypropylene deck and a mattress that’s at least 5″ thick.

What to Look for Before You Buy Leather Furniture

High quality leather used for furniture is cut and tanned to retain its unique characteristics. Top grain leather has scratches, brand marks, and some wrinkles and stretch marks. These markings are natural and they don’t alter the strength, durability or the appearance of your leather furniture. Look for hand-cut leather when you buy furniture; it’s beautiful, durable and will improve with age.

We thank our contributors:
Darrin Gleeman, New York, New York
Catherine Woods, Mobulls, breeders of French and English bulldogs, West Plains, MO

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Types of Wood Furniture

Find the best wooden furniture for your home with tips from Stuff about Furniture.

We have detailed information about some of the most popular types of wood used to make furniture, like oak, mahogany and maple, to help you find the right furniture to buy. The cost to buy wood furniture is not as costly as you might think- it’s sturdy, strong and doesn’t require too much maintenance. Wood furniture is very durable, and built to last a lot longer than furniture made with lesser materials.

It’s also easier to touch up scratches or gouges on wood furniture; furniture made of synthetic materials requires more intricate repair work if they can be repaired at all.

Every type of wood has its own unique grain patterns, making certain types of wood furnishings more desirable. Oak wood is somewhat porous along the surface, and stains and finishes pool into the pores leaving darker marks that appeal to furniture collectors.Maple has natural patterns in the wood grain that appear like magic when the furniture is sanded and finished. It’s these kinds of unique characteristics that make wood furniture such an enduringly popular choice for furnishing the home.

Wood furniture is also very versatile. You can buy the best wooden furniture unfinished, finished, hand finished or even painted. Connoisseurs of wood furnishings typically refrain from buying painted wood grain furniture, but it can often be quite charming, especially in a child’s bedroom.

Anne Hansen of Rapid City, South Dakota discusses some of the less expensive types of wood used to make furniture and Anthony Pierpont tells Stuff about Furniture about some of the fine points of high-end woods used to build more expensive furniture.

Less Expensive Wood Furnishings Don’t Have to Look Cheap by Anne Hansen of Rapid City, South Dakota

Some of the best wooden furniture can be purchased inexpensively without sacrificing quality or durability. The less expensive woods on our list include soft woods and hardwoods. Soft woods are woods that come from coniferous trees, or trees that hold their needles all year long. Hardwoods come from deciduous trees that drop their leaves each year. Some soft woods are more durable than hardwoods, so don’t be fooled by these terms when you’re buying furniture.

Alder Wood Furniture Adds Affordable Style to Any Room

Alder is a hardwood that features unique knots, or naturally-caused imperfections, that often show through the finish. Alder does not handle moisture or damp weather well and is best kept indoors, in a cool and dry climate. Alder wood is usually less expensive than other types of wood furniture because it is a lesser quality hardwood. Alder is similar to cherry or maple in appearance and has a very smooth finish.

Maple Wood Furniture Makes Buying Furniture Inexpensive

Maple is a hardwood, and it’s more durable and heavier than most woods, especially alder. Maple is often used for bedroom furniture- and even bowling alley floors- because of its strength. Maple wood is moisture resistant, so it has a long life span. The rare burled (swirls and twists in wood grain that occur naturally) and birds eye (a small repeating pattern in the wood grain) maple woods were used to manufacture American furniture in the early 1900’s and are considered highly collectible antiques today. Maple wood’s natural pale color, like ash and birch woods, easily accepts any type of stain or paint.

The Simple Beauty of Pine Wood Furniture Perfectly Fits into Your Home

Pine is a soft wood which makes it a less durable wood than maple or alder. Pine is lightweight and furniture made of pine is easier to lift and move. Pine is inexpensive and durable, and resists swelling and shrinking. Eastern White, Ponderosa and Sugar Pine trees are often used to make wood furniture in the United States. Pine woods usually need a primer before painting or a sealant before applying stain to achieve a more even finish. Knotty pine is often used for country style furnishings.

High End Furniture Made from High Quality Hardwoods by Anthony Pierpont of St. Paul, Minnesota

If you’re going to buy wood grain furnishings or upholstered wood furniture, consider your purchase, even your furniture research, a smart investment of time and money. It may cost more to buy furniture made with the high end woods on our list, but they’ll last a lifetime- or longer. High quality wood furniture will become an heirloom that you can pass down from generation to generation.
When you buy cherry, mahogany or oak wood furniture, you often have options available to customize your purchase. Hand finished and handcrafted furniture give you more alternatives for colors and shading. This comes in handy if you need the piece to match your existing home decor. And, you can often have oak, mahogany and other types of wood furniture custom designed to suit your specific space needs. This can be especially helpful if you have a large room that needs oversized furnishings.

Cherry Wood Furniture Charms with Old World Splendor

Cherry wood is a hardwood, strong and built to last. A lot of the best antique wooden furniture is made of cherry wood and it looks as good today as it did 100 years ago. Cherry wood and cherry stains for wood furniture often have a warm red hue. Don’t be afraid to mix and match cherry furnishings with furniture made of different woods or with varying finishes. Cherry wood complements most woods, working well with other furniture pieces and décor in your home.

Mahogany Wood Furniture Looks Magnificent in Your Home

“We chose mahogany wood furniture for our home because it was less expensive than oak or cherry, but still durable and beautiful,” Anthony Pierpont remarks. Mahogany is a hardwood with a deep reddish brown color. Mahogany wood furniture is very resistant to insect infestation and it repels moisture. These two qualities mean that the wood will easily last for years and years. Some manufacturers specialize in designing and creating high quality antique reproduction furniture made of mahogany wood.

Oak Wood Furniture Gives Any Room Timeless Beauty

Oak is among the most popular hardwoods used to make furniture. Red Oak often has a red or pink tinge, and White Oak tends to be greener, though both take different colors of stain really well. The best wooden furniture made of oak tends to be more costly than other hardwoods, because of its enduring reputation for strength and beauty. Oak’s lovely open wood grain easily mixes with the other furnishings in your home.

Walnut Wood Furniture Will Beautify Your Home or Office

Walnut is another hardwood known for its strength and the beauty of its wood grain. Unlike maple, it isn’t terribly heavy, making it a lot easier to move around. It is typically finished in a dark brown color, but walnut colors range from white to brown shades. Walnut is often used for formal or office furnishings and has a straight wood grain that glows warmly with a satin finish.

We thank our contributors:

Anne Hansen of Rapid City, South Dakota
Anthony Pierpont of St. Paul, Minnesota

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