It’s no secret that quality furniture sets the tone for the look and feel of your entire home.
It’s also worth remembering that quality goes beyond looks. Two pieces of furniture that look almost identical may still give you vastly different value in terms of durability and function.
Quality materials and superior craftsmanship will make your furnishings easier to care for and strong enough to handle the rigors of daily life. In most cases, an item that costs a little more up front will last longer and need fewer repairs, which saves you money over the long haul.
If you’re new to buying furniture, or if you haven’t made a purchase in a while, you might not be sure what to look for. Fortunately, our design experts at Lifestyles Furniture are happy to answer any questions you have. To help you get started, here are a few signs of quality to keep in mind the next time you visit our showroom.
Heavier, solid woods are stronger and more durable than lighter materials such as plywood or particle board. While they may be cheaper up front, these thinner woods have a shorter lifespan and will scratch, dent and crumble more easily. Avoid too many visible knots, as these tend to be the weakest part of natural woods.
Quality construction includes tight-fitting joints that are free of gaps. Look for a smooth, even surface with clean edges.
A quality finish resists scratches, dings and other wear and tear over the life of the piece. While you’re in the store, inspect the furniture for signs of chipping, cracks or peeling. Avoid anything with visible blotches, streaks or brush strokes. Look for a consistent appearance with no bubbles or bumps in the finish.
Sturdy, securely fastened joints affect strength and durability. A joint is where two pieces of wood or metal come together to form a corner or an edge.
Here are the types of joints commonly found in wood furniture:
- Dowel joints are often used for shelves, tables and cabinets. They are made by inserting small rods called dowels into two pieces of wood to hold them together. The joint is usually reinforced with strong glue or heavy duty screws.
- A mortise and tenon joint is commonly used in cabinets and is less vulnerable to the natural expansion and contraction that occurs in wood. It is formed by inserting an elongated tab, known as a tenon, from the first piece of wood, into a matching slot, or mortise, in the other. In some pieces of furniture the mortise goes all the way through the wood to create visual interest
- Dovetail joints are highly durable, making them ideal for drawers, dressers and credenzas. This type of joint is created by interlocking shapes, known as flares and pins, that hold two pieces of wood together. The result is a secure fit that is less likely to pull apart with repeated opens and closures over the life of the piece.
Furniture joints are often secured with sturdy screws, a strong glue or both. Well-made screws will be strong enough to last without becoming loose easily. Avoid furniture held together with staples or thin, lightweight nails.
Frames & Legs
A quality frame will be sturdy enough to hold the intended weight without bending or buckling.
Always sit on sofas and chairs in the store to ensure that they provide ample support in the seat and back. The legs should be securely attached to the base, with no wobbling or instability with normal usage or movement.
Look for kiln-dried wood for sofas, beds and other larger furnishings. Kiln drying removes moisture from the wood and helps the frame retain its shape and strength for longer. Avoid frames made of softwoods, knitted woods or thin materials such as plywood, as these are more likely to crack, bend or break.
For good, comfortable support that lasts, look for one of the following types of seating support:
- Eight-way hand-tied springs are an industry standard. This design involves individual springs connected with a strong twine. The twine is woven front to back, side to side and diagonally for a secure, durable attachment.
- A second seating support option is sinuous spring, in which s-shaped springs are supported by strong wires that cross from side to side
- A third style is web suspension, which features strong webbing made of natural or manufactured fibers. The webbing is held in place by a tensioner that fastens securely to the frame.
If you purchase furniture with metal frames, choose joints that are welded together instead of attached with screws or bolts.
When shopping for dressers, nightstands, desks and similar items, look for drawer boxes made of solid wood or other strong materials that resist warping or cracking.
Drawers must slide smoothly in and out without sticking, wobbling or rattling. They should have a floating bottom that doesn’t cave or pop out. Look for dado joints, which are grooves cut into the sides to securely hold the bottom.
Hardware, glides or ball-bearing slides should support the weight of the drawer and its contents. Pulls, handles and knobs must be securely attached without loosening or wobbling.
Seat cushions should be filled with a high-density foam or down. A quality filling provides good support without breaking down or sagging over time.
A high-density polyurethane foam wrapped in a soft material gives you ample firmness and comfort. It will last longer than a lower density foam, helping your cushions retain a like-new shape and appearance for years to come.
Down-filled cushions are generally softer than their foam counterparts. They also carry a somewhat higher price point. Make sure the cushions have down-proof ticking to prevent the feathers from poking through the fabric.
Other options include a blend of down and high–density foam, or springs supported by foam and wrapped in down padding. This design gives you a strong, resilient surface that’s also soft and keeps its shape over time.
Whether you’re looking to furnish a new home or you just want to update an existing space, Lifestyles Furniture has a wide selection of quality, customizable furnishings to fit your life, your home and your style.
Come visit our showroom or contact us online today!