Furniture Upholstery

How to identify what makes a sofa or chair good or bad quality.

Updated: Jul 3

How to identify if a sofa or chair is good or bad quality?


What makes a sofa or chair considered to be good, medium or a low quality piece of furniture? The quality of the frame, suspension, cushioning, and upholstery are what separate a sofa that will last 10 to 20 years from one that will start to wobble or look dingy after only a few. There are a few factors that can help distinguish the quality; for example, the overall weight, frame/foundation, spring system, seat cushion foam and upholstery fabric all play a huge role in the quality of a sofa or chair. In this article, I will help you learn how to identify what makes a sofa or chair good or bad quality.

How do you know if a sofa or chair has a good wood frame?


Everything begins with the frame. A furniture’s frame/foundation can be made from two primary types of wood materials: solid woods, which includes both hardwoods and softwoods; and manufactured woods, which is an engineered material that is often a composite of real wood and synthetic materials. High quality furniture is typically made from hardwood. Furniture made from hardwoods are likely to withstand decades of wear and tear. Decent quality furniture is typically made from a softwood or a combination of softwood and 3/4” hardwood plywood; furniture made from this combination are likely to withstand many years. Low quality furniture is made from particleboard/chipboard, fiberboard or medium density fiberboard (MDF); furniture made from manufactured woods are inexpensive and low quality.

Is there different kinds of furniture seat foam?


The seat cushion foam is almost always the first part of a sofa or chair that will wear out and need replacement.Most cushions sold with low and mid-priced upholstered furniture will begin to lose their shape and comfort within 1 - 3 years.Another important factor is whether the foam is HR (High Resiliency) which recovers its shape better after use.The expected lifespan of a foam cushion is primarily dependent on the density and thickness of the foam. Commonly used foam densities for residential furniture seat cushions range from 1.5 to 2.5. The number designates the weight (in pounds) of 1 cubic ft. of foam. Foams used in seat cushions for moderately priced residential furniture generally range from 1.5 through 2.0. Higher densities (2.0 - 2.5) can be found on more expensive residential furniture. Furniture designed for heavy commercial or institutional use may use foam with densities of 3.0 or higher.

How can I find out if the upholstery fabric is good or bad?


When buying a sofa or chair, upholstery fabric matters, as it is what you’ll see and feel for years after purchase. Many fabrics have been tested for abrasion-test rub count, which should help indicate a fabric’s durability. Rub count is important! Its recommend upholstery fabrics rated for at least 30,000 - 50,000 rub count as standard, 50,000 - 80,000 rubs as premium, and anything over 80,000 is considered high performance. Both synthetic and natural fabrics can pill, but higher-quality textiles with longer filaments and tighter weaves will pill less. Fabric mills test for pilling, using a five-grade scale;a score of 2 or less means that the fabric will likely have pilling issues. A fabric’s thread count, weave tightness, colorfastness, and stain resistance aren’t always readily available, but any legitimate sofa retailer or fabric store can offer a spec sheet with some, if not all, of its fabrics’ performance characteristics.

Does weight matter in a sofa or chair?


The type of material used in the construction of a sofa or chair is the determining factor in its overall weight. Sofas made from thick wood and coil springs weigh more than those made from thinner wood and elastic webbing. Good quality furniture has thicker wood which helps have a strong frame and a lower quality piece has thinner or less wood which makes the frame weaker. When picking up a sofa or chair, a lower quality piece is easier to lift or move while a higher quality piece usually takes a lot more effort to lift or move around. Be careful when moving a good quality sofa or chair because they can be extremely heavy!



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