3 Questions To Ask When Buying Your Next Sofa

3 Questions To Ask When Buying Your Next Sofa

“The world is changing, and what I have found, along with fellow designers, is that the most expensive furniture is NOT necessarily the BEST made furniture.”
— Lucy O'Brien

Image Source


Lets Start At The Bones: The Frame

The base on any furniture piece is the frame. Hardwood is the gold standard of furniture frames for upholstery pieces. Today a lot of manufactures have been rebranding plywood as hardwood. Cross directional hardwood, pressed hardwood, laminate hardwood and engineered hardwood are ALL plywood. A true hardwood would be something middle to higher up on the Janka scale (the ranking of the hardness of different kinds of wood ) such as maple or oak. If you want the most high-end construction, then you want hardwood. HOWEVER, plywood frames are a good alternative for a mid range construction as long as the plywood they use to build the frame is at least 1 (1/4) inches thick. This type of frame can last ten years without a problem. 

I am passionate about empowering and educating my clients on what they are purchasing and what the difference is between the PRODUCT and the PRICE POINT.

If you have ever bought a sofa or plan on buying one in the future then read on! Before I became an interior designer, I did not understand the jargon when I went searching for upholstery pieces. It turns out  not all that jargon is actual knowledge. So here are some important tips to guide you when you are purchasing your next upholstered piece. 

There are countless ways that a furniture maker can be selling a great looking piece but that does not mean it will last past a few months. 

Image Source 

The Muscle: Springs

The springs are the what keeps the frame together. If you do not have a good spring structure, your couch or chair will sag and warp. There are a few different levels of “spring structure.” The top line construction is having springs that are eight way hand tied. If you want a couch that will last a lifetime, then you want your springs to be eight way hand tied.  Some furniture companies have been trying to cut corners recently (even high-end brands) and saying that a drop coil system is a good substitute for eight way hand tied spring construction. This is not true. It is a better alternative to webbing and sinuous coils but no system has been created thus far to replace the eight way hand tied furniture construction. Eight way hand tied pieces take more time to construct (because each coil is literally hand tied eight times to the coil and then to the frame) , thus increasing the cost of labor for the manufacture. Anything with sinuous coils or webbing will not hold for a substantial amount of time no matter how strong these systems are. They will break and sag with time and gravity. 

Fat:  Cushions

Like all body types there is a TREMENDOUS amount of variability with cushions! There are a lot of different types of materials that they can be composed of and different types of weights and densities. So I will say this, a decent mid range cushions must be at least 2.2 density if it does not have springs inside the cushion. Otherwise you will quickly run into problems. 


I hope you found some of these tidbits helpful! I have custom furniture maker that makes most of my upholstered pieces for clients. Everything is eight way hand tied and is private label, so I oversee the process and send in all the specifications. Because it is a private label you are not paying for the name, only for excellent quality. So next time you need a couch, Tartan & Toile has you covered!