A sofa is a worthy investment, which is why it’s important to be mindful about the quality of the sofa you’re buying. Unfortunately, many sofas are mass produced using cheap materials so that they can be sold at low price points. While this can be helpful for very budget conscious buyers, it’s not always a great option for people who are looking for a high quality sofa that will last decades and hold up to heavy use from kids, pets and adults alike.
We’ve created a quick resource that outlines factors worth considering the next time you purchase a sofa, from how to spot cheap construction to the types of materials that stand the test of time.
Keep reading to learn our top tips for purchasing a high quality sofa!
Consider the Manufacturer’s Reputation + Business Model
Not every large manufacturer is bad, but many of them are simply mass producing low quality pieces of furniture that will not hold up over time. While big box stores tend to be cheaper, it’s important to consider that you might have to discard a piece of furniture in a few years because it’s broken or worn out—so if you can, we recommend paying more upfront for higher quality pieces because it’ll save you the hassle of replacing a worn out sofa and paying more money down the line.
Review the manufacturer’s warranties whenever you are purchasing furniture. Companies that mass produce cheaper items typically only offer a 1 year warranty (if that!), whereas higher quality brands will offer a 5+ year structural warranty at no additional cost. This is a good indication that the pieces are truly built to last and that the manufacturer is confident in the quality of their products.
Assess Durability at First Sight
Making a large furniture purchase online might be convenient, but looking at an image of a sofa can never compare to feeling, touching and sitting on one. Many low quality, high trend sofas look gorgeous in a well lit and staged photo, but if you were to sit on the cushion, chances are you could have a totally different experience…
Here are a few of our tips:
- Lift one corner a few inches off the ground. If the entire side comes up, the frame is relatively sturdy. However, if only the lifted corner comes up and the other three legs stay on the ground, the frame is likely not as sturdy. This isn’t always a deal breaker, but something to consider. Also note that durable, built-to-last sofas are relatively heavy! If you lift one corner and it feels almost weightless, it could indicate that the frame is not very sturdy and the cushions are not very dense.
- Sit on the center cushion and squish around. Regardless of whether you prefer a sturdier or softer cushion, it should feel relatively dense and supportive, without being able to feel any parts of the wooden or metal frame. If the cushions sink in and feel flimsy, it’s likely going to wear in very quickly and lose its shape. There’s nothing worse than a sofa that isn’t cozy!
- Be cautious of self-assembly furniture. While we love a good DIY, sometimes it’s best to purchase a sofa that is delivered pre-assembled or is assembled by professionals. Unless you’re a skilled handyman, self-assembled sofa are often not as long lasting as ones that are prebuilt or professionally assembled in the home.
Pinch the material on the cushions and pull upwards to assess the quality of the upholstery. If the material separates easily from the cushions or padding and feels thin, it will likely wear out rather quickly. Upholstery should fit snugly to the cushions, frame and pillows. Look for a sofa with upholstery that is taut and feels sturdy and well knit.
Kiln-dried wood is best for the frame of a sofa because all of the moisture that naturally occurs in wood has been dried out in a kiln (oven). This also ensures that the wood is free from mold, mildew or insect infestation (yikes!). Kiln-dried wood will not split or warp over time because it is free from moisture, so it will retain its shape and density for years to come. Some sofas combine kiln-dried wood and metal frames in order to save on costs, which can be a good option for someone who is more budget conscious that still prioritizes a sturdy, kiln-dried wood frame.
Hardwoods like oak, mahogany or maple are ideal because they are dense, extremely durable and are very unlikely to crack. Softer woods like pine, cedar or spruce should be avoided, if possible.
Ensure the Joinery is High Quality
The wooden frame of a sofa can be held together in many ways. If you’re looking for quality, you’ll want to ensure that the sofa’s frame is held together with wooden dowels, wooden corner blocks, or metal screws and brackets. Never purchase a sofa that is held together using only glue, nails, or staples as these will not hold up to heavy use over time. It’s totally fine if these are used in addition to heavy-duty joinery, but they are not an adequate replacement.
Inspect the Springs
Low-quality sofas won’t have springs at all, so your cushions will be held up using only the frame (hello, stiff and uncomfy sofa!), or using only mesh or webbing. Again, this will not hold up with years of use, so it’s best to avoid springless sofas if you’re after quality.
Springs are an upgrade from mesh or webbing, but if you’re looking for a sofa that will truly hold its shape for years, look for a sofa with “eight-way hand tied springs” for the highest level of comfort and durability. Yes, these will be much more expensive, but in 10 years, you’ll be happy you spent the money as your sofa will be just as comfortable as when you brought it home.
Measure Doorways Before You Buy
You’d be surprised at how common it is for sofas to be returned to the manufacturer because it was too big to fit through the doorway!. While sofas often have legs that can be unscrewed and removed during delivery, you should always make sure that the sofa you’re about to buy is a size you can accommodate.
Keep a record of the height, width and diagonal width of your doorways in your phone while shopping for sofas, and work with someone to ensure that the size of the sofa will work with your space.