I get asked what makes a piece of furniture a quality piece, so today we are going to break it down for you. We will look at construction, support and cushion filling. This post is jammed packed so get ready to take some notes!
Let’s start by going over the way furniture is typically made. The gold standard in furniture construction is kiln dried. Kiln dried is basically a process that removes the moisture from the wood creating a stable piece of lumber.
Kiln dried furniture is also the easiest to reupholster and is often considered an heirloom piece. These pieces are built to last and to stand the test of time. It’s an investment for sure.
The second type of construction you will see is engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood is basically a fancy word for MDF, OSB, or plywood. There’s nothing wrong with this type of construction so long as you know that it’s not an heirloom piece. It’s much harder to reupholster and therefore you will probably only keep it for 3-5 years.
If you are going to buy furniture that is made out of plywood, try and find pieces that are at least 1 ½” thick (around 11-13 layers of plywood)and that are jigged together. What I mean by that, is the pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. This makes them much more stable.
Now within the foundation, there is the frame.The frame is what holds the seating support. Ever wonder why your couch cushions start to sag after a few years? The frame determines the level of support!
8 way hand tied coiled springs are the best. They have 8 different spots where they are tied to the frame. Front to back and side to side. That way when someone sits down on it, the entire foundation moves and it helps hold the frame together. There aren’t any “tension spots”. The 8 way coils disperse weight from the bottom up which leads to better integrity.
A plywood frame isn’t going to have an 8 way spring because there’s nowhere to tie it to. Instead you will see what is known as a drop in unit. This is when the coils sit inside the frame. It disperses weight from the top down.
Benefits of 8 way hand tied frames:
Another common method in less expensive furniture is called Sinuous springs, or the S method. The S method runs metal gauge wires front to back. These are often used in sleeker design styles but beware because they can pop and create a “hole”. This is why when you sit in a booth sometimes and there’s that weird spot where you sink in, it’s because a spring has popped!
Rubber webbing is another common support system found in modern furniture styles. The coils themselves only take up about 6” of space so they allow for a more sleek, modern style. If used all by itself, it doesn’t provide much support. In better quality pieces, you will find it made with tensioners that attach it to the frame for more support.
Cushion filling is so IMPORTANT! It’s the first spot to show wear. Budget cushions are value engineered. This means that they are made to look good on the outside but without the quality. They typically will only last about 2-3 years.
So what should you be looking for? Spring down wrapped cushions are the best and are often considered the most comfortable (unless you are older or have hip issues-then they may be too soft)
The benefits of spring down cushions are:
If spring coiled cushions aren’t in your budget, the next best thing is foam. Foam is typically better for people with back and hip issues. You’ll want to look for foam that has a high density rating. The denser the foam, the longer it lasts. The best foam cushions can last from 10-15 years.
I hope this helps give you a general overview of how furniture is constructed and what you need to be looking for!
As always, if you just want someone else to pick out furniture for you, I have access to furniture at all different price points. You can book a free call with me here.