When it comes to buying large-scale pieces of furniture like sofas, it’s so important to be an educated buyer. If you’re going to fork over a large sum of cash for a piece of furniture, you want to make sure you are getting a quality piece that’s going to last.I’ve shopped for a lot of sofas both for clients and for our house, done tons of research on the construction of quality sofas and have consulted many furniture experts about buying a good sofa. However, before I go into what I’ve learned and share my tips about what to look for when shopping for a sofa, I want to give you a few words of caution.
A good quality sofa is going to be expensive. If you want a sofa that’s going to last you 15-30 years, you’re probably going to have to spend more than you thought. In my experience, good quality standard sized sofas (not sectionals) range from about $2000-$3500. It sucks, but it’s better than having to replace your sofa every 5 years, which in the end costs you even more.Here’s an example to illustrate my point…
Let’s say you bought an Ikea sofa for $800 and it lasts you 2 years. Then you replace it with one from Pottery Barn that costs you $1500 and it lasts you another 5 years. Over the course of 7 years you’ve spend over $2300 and you still need another new sofa! In the end, you end up spending more than if you had just invested in a good quality sofa in the first place.
As a side note, just because you pay a somewhat high price for a sofa at stores like Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel does not mean you are getting a high quality sofa. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of those stores and shop there myself, but more often than not, you are just paying more for the name of the store and not the quality of the actual product.
So how do you know if you are buying a well-built, quality sofa?
Here are some things to look for…
1. The Frame
A well-built sofa is supported by a sturdy frame made of a kiln-dried hardwood, such as maple, oak, and poplar. Kiln-drying removes all moisture, helping guard the wood against warping and cracking (and squeaky couches). A frame with joints connected by any of the following means is solidly constructed: wooden dowels, double wooden dowels, wooden corner blocks, or metal screws and brackets. Staples or nails may be used for extra reinforcement, but never buy a sofa that’s held together solely by staples, nails, or glue. Obviously you can’t see the frame for yourself (fabric should cover the sofa’s underside too), but a salesperson should know how it’s constructed; if not, ask them to check the manufacturer’s catalog.
2. The Suspension System
A sofa’s suspension determines its’ bounce and how quickly it responds to support your weight when you sit on it. Most sofas have sinuous springs, which are pre-assembled units of snaking wire. They’re nicely supportive, but they can press on the frame or sag over time if the metal isn’t heavy-duty. “Eight-way hand-tied springs” are the best option when it comes to your sofa’s suspension system, but tend to cost more than sinuous springs.
3. The CushionsThe price and quality of your sofa can vary drastically based on what’s inside the cushions. There are a lot of options, but the two best in terms of affordability, quality and comfort are: High-resilient (HR) foam in a layer of down and conventional foam wrapped in polyester batting. Steer clear of cushions filled with polyester fiber or a down-polyfiber blend as they will flatten quickly. Also, look for back cushions that are NOT attached to the sofa frame so that you can clean and fluff them to keep them looking like new.4. The Upholstery
More than any other element of your sofa, the upholstery you choose will affect the price you pay. So when selecting a fabric, you’ll need to balance considerations of budget, looks, and the material’s durability. Sofas that get everyday use will need durable fabric. While it tends to be on the pricey side, my favorite upholstery material is a performance fabric (sometimes called Sunbrella) as it is completely stain resistant and can even be bleached without affecting the color of the material. If a performance fabric is not in the budget, cotton, cotton blends and wool are good, durable alternatives. I usually advise people to avoid linen as it soils and wrinkles easily. And since you are investing in a sofa that’s going to last for many years, be sure to choose a neutral fabric that will stay in style over the years.source
If you’re looking for a sofa that’s going to get everyday wear, it pays to spend the money and get something that will last. If it’s a sofa that’s going to just sit and look pretty in your formal living room and never get much use, then by all means, buy something inexpensive.
Please keep in mind that all of my tips and suggestions are just my opinions based on experience and the research I’ve done. If you have tips to add, I’d love to hear them!
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