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