The ideal way to check the quality of a sofa is to actually see the insides to scrutinize the engineering and construction aspects of it but unless you are able to find a furniture store that allows you to rip off the covers and it’s outer layers, you are pretty much limited to the touch and feel on the outside.
All hope is not lost though as we share the following tips to ensure that the sofa you are going to buy is not going to end up at the nearest recycling plant six months down the road.
This is the most important component of the sofa as the type of wood used for the construction of the frame determines the lifetime of the sofa.
A good quality sofa uses kiln-dried hardwood, held together by industrial glue and nails, which lends to it’s sturdiness and durability, and can typically last more than 15 years! An example of hardwood are Birch, Maple, Oak, Ash, and Teak. Kiln-drying removes all moisture from the wood before construction as this helps guard against cracking. It also enables the frame to retain its shape and stability for a long time to come.
A lower quality sofa uses furniture-grade plywood several layers thick held together with staples. It’s a substitute for hardwood and costs lesser. This type of frame will typically last you at most two to three years. Some manufacturers will use plywood with a combination of other lower grade wood like Pine, which can last you about five years or less.
How to check:
Check what type of wood was the sofa frame constructed out of. If you’re in Singapore, the quality ones are usually North American Birch, and Oak wood.Hold the sideframe of the sofa, and move it from side to side. Do the same for the backframe. A sturdy frame should not wobble or twist. If it does wobble, it usually means that the joints are not held firmly which can cause serious safety concerns in the future.Lift up the sofa and feel the weight. It should feel heavy. How heavy? As a reference, our Griffith Sofa (Length at 190cm) requires two man (Avg. height:185cm / Avg. weight: 80kg) to lift it up vertically whilst a sofa at IKEA only required one man. In general, this should not be used a sole determinant of a good quality sofa as engineered wood or plywood can feel heavy as well.Test the frame strength by lifting one corner or leg of the sofa up to about 15cm. If the other leg is still touching the floor, then it means the frame is weak.
The type of filling used for the cushions determines how soft and plushy or how firm the seating comfort is.
If you like it soft and plushy, and that ‘sink-in’ feeling, consider going for 100% goose down and feather cushions. A goose down is a layer of fine feathers found under the tougher exterior feathers. Do note however, going for a full feather option is very high maintenance and requires daily attention. It is also considered a premium choice and is pricey.
An alternative combination that still provides you with that soft and plushy feeling but without the high costs and maintenance is the foam and feather mix which is commonly used by many designer furniture companies. The typical materials are high density/resilient polyurethane foam (35-42kg/cbm) wrapped in down feathers, cotton or polyester batting. The foam provides a bouncy feel and ‘push back’ against deformation. This makes the seating more supportive. For this combination, the more down feathers is used to wrapped the foam, the more cushy it feels.
Note: The higher the density of the foam, the firmer, and more lasting it is. Make sure you get the higher density foams as the lower density ones break down pretty quickly. Typical lifeline for the foams are:
25kg/cbm : 1 to 2 years 35kg/cbm : 3 to 4 years 42kg/cbm : 7 to 9 years