How to Judge a Sofa’s Quality

BY NANCY MATTIA ON JANUARY 14TH, 2019

How to Judge a Sofa’s Quality

BY NANCY MATTIA ON JANUARY 14TH, 2019

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When shopping for a sofa, it’s easy to be swayed by an interesting shape or a pretty fabric. While those are certainly important, a sofa also has to be made well for it to be stable and keep its shape. Look for these three components that, if working together, create an amazing sofa: a sturdy frame, good seating support and a comfortable filling that keeps its shape.

The Frame?If you want your sofa to look good for many years, the frame needs to be strong and solid. “Some manufacturers use plywood or even pressed wood but we use only kiln-dried alder wood,” says Chris Michna, owner of California Sofa, a custom furniture store in San Rafael, Calif. “Kiln drying gets all the moisture out so the wood is very stable.” The frame’s joints should be glued and dowelled, and then screwed, never stapled, to withstand years of use.

The Seating Support

One of the best support systems is called sinuous springs, and they won’t bend or sag like a low gauge wire would over time. The springs on a high-quality sofa should feel supportive when you sit and be close together.

The Filling

The most unappealing sofa has to be the one that has a messy seat and back cushions, which become immediately noticeable when everyone gets up. If the filling is made of a low-density foam, it won’t hold its shape and the fabric will start to sag. Michna recommends a 2.0 to 2.2 density foam for the best results. “Foam retains crisp lines,” he says. If you want a softer seat and aren’t as concerned about tidiness, consider down but not the feathery kind. Instead, Michna suggests a synthetic down, which keeps its shape better. But you’ll still have to fluff up the cushions frequently for a neater appearance since even synthetic down moves around and clumps. Polyurethane is a very popular filler but tends to flatten out.

The Test?What’s the best way to test if a sofa is well made? Go into a furniture store or showroom and try out the various models. Sit on them and evaluate how they feel and what they look like when you get up. If the sofa’s fabric is sagging or bunched up, cross it off your list and keep looking. Ask the salespeople lots of questions so you can get a sofa that will look good in your home for years to come.

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