Purchasing A Sofa

Published July 20, 2012

A sofa is an integral part of any living room furniture set so it’s important to be sure of what you are buying. In addition to being a large investment, sofas cost time and money and therefore warrant making a well-informed choice.

Experts agree that the first place to start is to calculate what you can afford and then determine how to get the best quality for your money.

Four basic factors play a crucial role in sofa purchasing: Frame, Seat, Cushions/Fabric and Price.

The frame is probably one of the most important. It is imperative to ask many questions as to the construction of the sofa. The best frames are generally made from 100% hardwoods such as oak, maple, ash or birch. These woods are kiln-dried (dried in an oven), and will only leave behind a 6% moisture content. This is important because frames made from air-dried wood are less strong due to the fact that they will continue to dry out over time and may warp.

The construction of the frame is also important. High quality frames will be secured with dowels screws and strengthened with corner blocks. The alternative, lower quality frames tend to be constructed with staples and glue and the corners are not as secure.

The best way to view seat construction is to view a cutaway model of the sofa. Enquire as to whether this is available or not. Usually the seat deck is constructed of a heavyweight fabric that is attached to the frame with clips with a spring system on top. Good quality sofas will have an eight-way, hand-tied web and coil spring system whereas the lower quality brands will have cheaper wire coils and are most commonly referred to as “zig-zag” or a “seamless coil”. In general, you want a higher gauge of wire and a higher number of springs.

The cushions are also important. The best cushions are a mix of polyurethane foam wrapped in down or cotton batting. These cushions do not have to be fluffed daily (as all-down cushions do) and tend to have a better fullness and feel to them. A layer of cotton should also wrap the entire cushion before the upholstery fabric is applied. Contemporary sofas tend to have a cleaner, firmer look with all foam cushions. This is fine but make sure you sit on them to test the comfort factor. All foam cushions should also have a fabric cover before the upholstery. Be sure to enquire as to the density of the foam cushion as well. The higher the density the firmer the foam cushions.

As far as fabric is concerned, there are many choices. Leather, chenille and velvet are just a few examples of what is out there.  Be sure to choose a durable as well as attractive fabric for long lasting results. Velvets are beautiful but do not wear all that well, while leather is a good choice for durability.

Seem like a lot of information? Well it is so it’s best to take your time and spend some time doing your research and asking questions. Sofas are a large investment and we tend to keep them for long periods of time so it’s best to be certain you are getting what you really want.