Practical tips for choosing quality furniture

Since both good and bad furniture is on the market in all price ranges, how can you tell the difference? Good tailoring is one clue to quality. If there are no loose threads, seams are straight, fabric is without bumps or puckers, staples and tacks are well concealed, plaids and stripes are well matched, cushions are even and fit snugly into corners, the chances are the worksmanship on the inside construction is good, too.

Keep in mind that generally tightly woven fabrics wear better than loose weaves. Test for possible fabric pilling by rubbing the fabric with a pencil eraser to see if bits of fabric appear.

Frames should be made of kiln-dried hardwood such as maple, ash, birch, alder , mahogany, or oak. Do not buy upholstered furniture with softwood frames such as fir or pine. Turn a chair over in a store, if you must, to inspect the joinings, which should be interlocking and reinforced with cornerblocks at points of stress.

Sofa and chair springs should never be felt through the fabric. Better quality furniture may have 12 coils per seat and no less than eight.

Quality furniture will have an eight-way tie to keep springs in place, and the webbing that holds them should be woven or interlaced so that all bands are close together and securely attached. If you plan to buy two upholstered pieces that are an exact color match, order them at the same time to avoid variation from different dye lots.

Since comfort is so essential when buying upholstered furniture, sit in the chair or sofa and bounce and wiggle. If you can feel the rim of the chair against your legs, there is ins ufficient padding.

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