Your Guide to Judging the Quality of a Sofa or Couch
It's time to go sofa shopping, and you know just the look you want. Just remember to be careful. A sofa or couch may look nice on the outside, but the interior is what truly counts when determining quality. Take advantage of these shopping tips to find a high-quality, long-lasting sofa you also love.
Ask About the Frame
If you want a high-quality sofa, make sure it has a durable frame. For the best craftsmanship, look for products made from kiln-dried hardwood — typically ash, maple, or oak. For a less expensive but sturdy option, find sofas with frames made from engineered hardwood featuring at least seven layers of pressed wood. Avoid products with frames made from soft woods, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), standard plywood, or particle board.
Inquire About the Joints
How the frame is constructed is just as important as the type of wood used. Inferior sofa frames feature pieces that are joined together by glue or staples. For premium construction, look for frames made with tongue-in-groove, mortise-and-tenon, or dowel-connected joints that have reinforced corner blocks. Sofa legs should be built into the frame or joined to the frame with screws or long bolts.
To test the quality of a sofa frame, grab the sofa from the back and side and try to move it. A well-made frame should not wobble or twist.
Have a Seat
Always try out a sofa prior to purchase by sitting on it. Make sure the sofa has good back support and doesn't sag. Ask about the seating system. Typically, sofas have springs between the frame and the cushion for support. Springs should be somewhat close together for durability and comfort.
Over time, products made with low-grade springs can sag or bend. For the best quality, look for sofas or couches with eight-way, hand-tied spring construction, or sinuous spring construction.
Eight-Way Hand-Tied Spring Construction
When it comes to quality, eight-way hand-tied springs have long been considered one of the best options for seat construction. To produce these coils, springs are tied from front-to-back, side-to-side, and diagonally by a skilled craftsman to ensure comfort, flexibility, and support.
Sinuous Spring Construction
A sinuous spring system is made from many continuous S-shaped wires that run from the front of the seat to the back. The wires are connected by cording and are attached to the frame with clips. If one of these wires breaks, you can replace it instead of replacing the entire seat. Sofas featuring this system are often less expensive than those made with the hand-tied method, but that doesn't mean they’re lacking in quality.
Examine the Cushions
Sofa quality also depends on the cushions. To prevent sagging, choose products with seat cushions that feature a high-density foam core with a thickness of at least four inches, or a core made up of individually-wrapped springs. Both cores are wrapped with layers of soft foam, polyester fiber, and/or down to add comfort.
Back cushions don't feature high-density foam or springs. They are filled with down, polyester fiber, or a blend of the two materials. For superior construction, back cushions are divided into channels, which are filled separately and then encased in ticking.
Inspect the Fabric
Not all upholstery fabrics are alike when it comes to quality. For extra durability, upholstery fabrics should be tightly-woven. Fabrics with a loose weave tend to wear more quickly and/or snag. To choose the upholstery that is right for you, examine various fabrics and their benefits:
- Microfiber: Suede-like appearance, stain-resistant, budget-friendly
- Linen: Eco-friendly, breathable, hypoallergenic, gets softer with use
- Cotton Canvas: Versatile, breathable, durable, resistant to pilling
- Wool: Traps in heat for cold climates, durable, mold-resistant, fire-resistant
- Leather: Develops a patina over time, durable, easy to clean, odor-resistant
- Vinyl: Very durable, easy to clean, budget-friendly
- Velvet: Soft, lustrous, durable (mohair velvet), fade resistant (synthetic velvet)
When you're on the hunt for a new sofa, take advantage of these strategies to guarantee you're getting a quality product. Check for comfort by sitting on sofas, and make sure to inquire about the frames, joints, seating systems, cushions, and fabric. If you're wondering who makes the best sofas, check out the selection of stylish, well-made products available at CORT Furniture Rental.