|Furniture Buying Types
- Furniture Buying Guide
Three Classifications of Upholstered
- Fully Upholstered Furniture: No visible wood with the exception of perhaps
the feet and a few decorative touches.
- Partially Upholstered Furniture: Seating areas are
upholstered with exposed wood, metal, or plastic frames.
- Dual Purpose Upholstered Furniture: Concealed motion
mechanisms within upholstered furniture. This includes sleeper mechanisms
and reclining mechanisms.
There’s more to a frame of your furniture than meets
There’s support, craftsmanship and strength to ensure
that your living room suite will survive countless rearranging, misuse by
children and adults, as well as service beyond the call of duty when
obese people plop down on them.
The frame is the outline of the sofa’s design waiting
only to be molded into a thing of beauty in by the cushions, springs and
The frame is the skeleton of your furniture and just
like a human skeleton it must absorb abuse. So take a look at what
goes into the strength and design of the frame, before you buy, and then you
can take comfort in your purchase decision.
Plywood Frames: More and more plywood is being used in
upholstered furniture framing. When built to quality standards, it has
proven to be very durable.
Kiln – Dried Hardwood Frames: This type of frame is
still the basis of most upholstered furniture. NOTE: Just because a manufacturer
uses this material in their construction does not make it the best of
Three factors will determine the quality of the frame.
- Engineering: This determines the strength of the
- Proper Proportions and Scale: This determines the
seat pitch and the depth. A deeper pitch makes for a deeper seat and a
shallow more upright pitch makes the piece easier to get in and out of.
(Which do you need?)
- Types of Joints and Fasteners: The best known joint
is double doweled, and glued with a corner block that has been glued and
screwed into place. It is still the best for most frames and it is also
one of the most expensive methods.
While the frame is the backbone of your piece and is
probably the most important element...it's not the one you're most concerned
To you, the cushions are the most important.
It's the first ting you try out when you're in the
showroom. And, unfortunately, many times it's the only thing you're
Being you put so much emphasis on it let's learn a
little about cushions.
Where the butt meets the furniture:
Latex Foam Rubber: Latex cushions were first used in
furniture around 1950. By 1960 it was being used in over one-fourth of all
By the 1980's things had changed... latex foam was
rapidly being replaced by
urethane foam in furniture.
Why is that?
Latex foam proved to rot with age and develop
an odor as it deteriorated. (and you blamed that smell on uncle Max)
New processes have eliminated these effects,
but latex foam has not regained wide acceptance among upholstered
Polyurethane Foam: Urethane foam was first used in
furniture around 1950.
Improvements in the chemical compounds and
methods of production have been improved on over the years.
By 1990, more than two-thirds of the cushions
and padding, used in the upholstered furniture industry, were polyurethane
Fiber Down: Polyester batting was first used for
padding in upholstered furniture in the early 1960’s...cotton
synthetic blends came into use about 1975.
Today, these two forms of
padding account for about one-fourth of all padding and cushioning used
for upholstered furniture and almost always are used in conjunction with
The spring system used in your sofa, loveseat, chaise or chair
must stand the test of time and provide you with long lasting support.
different methods of springs are used in living room furniture. Below, a
brief description of each method from sinuous to hand-tied.
Hand-Tied Coil Springs: Used in the seats
considered, by many, to be the best.
Drop-In Coil Springs: Pre-built
coil spring system that are dropped into the frame and affixed to it.
These are machine tied rather than hand tied. Many consider them to
be just as good or better than hand tied.
Sinuous Springs (a.k.a. ‘zigger wire’): ‘S’ Shaped
springs that are attached to the top and center rails of the frame using
metal clips or nylon bushings, the clips are often Teflon coated.
Strap Springs or Web Bases: Historically, interwoven
straps of heavy burlap were tacked to the seat and the back frame.
bands one inch to two inches wide, made of spring steel, interwoven and attached to the frame with small helical springs were used
mostly in contemporary furniture.
In the last decade of 1900, as an
alternative to metal springs, elastic type bands of high-grade materials
became widely used in Europe...they are being used more and more by U.S.
Fabrics are derived from four different origins. Each blend carries with
it it’s own unique characteristics, touch and feel.
- Animal Origin: Wool, silk, mohair, leather.
- Vegetable Origin: Cotton, linen, jute.
- Chemical Origin: Acetate, nylon, rayon, polyester,
- Mixed Origin: Combinations of any of the above as
well as fabrics made of aluminum, or with silver or gold threads.
You’ve read the specifications and gained the knowledge needed to
understand just what goes into your furniture.
Now let's take a closer look at just what makes up a
good piece of furniture, a better piece of furniture and the best piece of
- 8-way hand tied (or machine
tied) spring unit (approx. 27 coils per sofa) (The difference
between hand tied and machine tied is that machine tied coils are tied
with metal rather than twine.
- Heat tempered springs.
- Webbing suspension may be used.
- Cushions come in two basic types...
- 2.0+ density polyurethane foam core with poly-down fill encased by
muslin type wrap.
- 2.0+ density
polyurethane wrapped innerspring variety.
- Solid hardwood kiln dried frames...glued, doweled
- Frames are padded heavily to keep fabric from being stressed against
the wood frames.
- High gauge and high quantity sinuous coils, more springs per seat and
tighter turns/curves in the coils.
- Drop in spring systems are also sometimes found in this category.
- Heat tempered springs.
- Cushions are 1.8+ density polyurethane core with Dacron wrapping that
has been encased in muslin type fabric.
- Kiln dried hardwood used in the for the frames.
- Light padding used on the frames to keep fabric from direct
exposure to the wood of the frames.
- Low gauge and low quantity sinuous coil springs, fewer springs per
seat and looser turns/curves in the coils.
- Non-heat tempered springs...may sag over
- 1.5+ density polyurethane foam core with unattached Dacron wrap.
- Air dried frames (removes 70% of the woods moisture content, the
process takes about 6 months).
- The type of
wood used varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and sometimes even
within a line of furniture from a given manufacturer. Price and
availability are the deciding factor.
- Frames are stapled and glued for the most part.
You get what you pay for. Choose the fabric for
beauty, and wear ability...chose the frame for longevity.