3/17/09

Tips On Buying Top Quality Furniture

When shopping at furniture stores, it’s easy to think that everything is what it seems. Showrooms are meant to show the furniture off in its best light – complete with lovely linens and thoughtful little accents and décor. It’s almost as if they had an interior designer decorate each space.

Well, they did. Remember that you’re not only buying furniture for its looks, but its quality. Alarmingly, some 67% of all shoppers who bought wood furniture and 80% who purchased a sofa had no idea if the item they were buying was quality merchandise.


Considering that Americans spend more than $60 billion on furniture and linens in a given year, that misunderstanding can be costly. To help you determine if you’re getting your money’s worth, here are some tips for identifying quality pieces. Remember, this isn’t a substitute for asking probing questions of the furniture stores you’re shopping at. These are only guidelines.

Upholstered Furniture
A top quality sofa uses kiln-dried wood in the frame. This keeps it from warping or cracking over time. If you’re dropping a grand or more on a sofa, it should five legs. The legs should also be built into the frame, not screwed in after the fact. Another indicator of quality is that the frame on the side of the sofa at the bottom should be at least 1 ¼” thick. Anything less and the sofa will start to squeak as it gets use.

Cushions are another indicator of quality. The heavier the cushion, the better the sofa is. Also, the springs should pop right back up when you push on them and should offer resistance.

Finally, check the tailoring. The seams should be perfectly finished and crisp. There shouldn’t be any puckers in the fit. On a leather piece, you want to see if the leather all matches. If it does, it means that it came from matched hides, which is a sign of top-grain leather, the best money can buy.

Wood Furniture

When you’re shopping for wood furniture in furniture stores, there are some things that indicate high quality. The same is true for all wood furniture, whether it’s a bedroom set, a living room grouping or furnishings for a dining room.

First, check the quality of the wood. If you’re spending the money on wood, make sure it really is wood. Look underneath to see. Manufacturers of cheap furniture don’t bother adding veneer or laminates to the undersides.

The fit of the drawers is another good indicator. The drawers should hang nicely. The joints should be dove tailed, not flush set. The interior of the drawers should be smooth, not rough and the bottom should be real wood, not cardboard. You’ll also find that better quality wood furniture has a dust panel that keeps you from looking at the drawer below when the drawer is pulled out.

If the wood is a veneer, that’s not bad. Many top quality pieces are made of exquisite veneers of rare and exotic woods. Again, check underneath to see what the veneer is glued to. The underlying wood (or lack of real wood) is the best indicator of quality.

Like most things in life, you often get what you pay for when shopping for furniture. Ask the salespeople at the furniture stores you’re shopping at a lot of questions. If they can’t answer your questions or aren’t willing to find out, you may be buying inferior quality from a disreputable store.

By: Modern Furniture

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