How to Tell Quality vs. Cheap Upholstered Furniture

It is easy to fall in love with a piece of beautiful furniture for it’s style but if is not created with quality construction and materials that love can turn into loathing fairly soon after taking your new piece of furniture home. There are many variables in upholstered furniture that distinguishes the cheaply made from your soulmate level of quality furniture. One way to avoid this costly mistake is going the custom furniture route- same style with superb quality that is the best choice for a healthy long term commitment with your new upholstered love. The information below is helpful when shopping for quality pieces from a showroom, store, or custom manufacturer.

It won’t matter how gorgeous a piece is, unless the frame is strong and well made, the furniture will not wear well which is of paramount importance for upholstered furniture meant for daily use.

Construction & Quality

Kiln-dried hardwood such as birch, maple, ash, or gum, is more durable than soft woods, such as pine, poplar, or fir. When wood is kiln-dried it is usually at least 2 inches approximately 90-95% of the moisture in the wood is removed which prevents warping and blowing. Plywood or Particleboard is typically used in furniture of lesser quality because it is strong but is prone to splitting and chipping (We’re talking about you- IKEA). Plywood is multiple of thin layers of lumber glued together under high pressure and there are different grades and qualities.

The way that the wood is then constructed into the frame impacts how sturdy it will be greatly. It is important to look for interlocking joints, doweled and glued joints, and screws. The joints should fit tightly with no gaps. If you notice that the frame is stapled together or poorly fitted-- RUN-- that is a definite sign of cheap construction.

The piece of upholstered furniture such as a chair or sofa should not feel light, flimsy, or wobble this is a concern for families with small children or the elderly because the furniture may tip over easily. Your sofa or chair should be able to support people who need brace the furniture while getting up or down.

Larger pieces, such as a sofa or loveseat, should not sag in the middle. If you notice sagging, that is an indication of poor support and bracing. Propex webbing and steel banding prevent the springs from sagging and it is important to ask what type of support has been installed on your furniture.

The coils/springs in the seat and sometimes the back of an upholstered piece function like a box spring for a mattress. They give the piece firmness and stability but also determine how long it will last. Regular shaped steel coil springs that are 8-way hand tied where they meet the adjoining coils and frame offer the best stability. Zigzag, wave shaped, or interwoven bands are more likely to quickly lose their shape and create sagging.

Apart from the frame construction more tips on determining quality vs. cheap upholstered furniture are:

- Avoid furniture that shows bending under pressure between parts such as cushion and frame and wooden and upholstered parts.

- Touch and squeeze padded areas to make sure you do not feel the frame underneath.

- Fabric patterns should match perfectly at the seem and should be applied evenly across the piece without gaps or gathers. This is an easy one to spot out poor quality in upholstered furniture before you even sit on the piece.

If you want to your own piece of quality custom furniture please contact us. Barnes Custom Upholstery has been providing professionally hand crafted upholstered furniture for over 40 years. Join us at the table and let's plan your custom piece together! Call us at 336.885.7370 or email us at

#QualityUpholstery #CustomUpholstery #HighPointFurniture #USFurniture

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Barnes Custom Upholstery

American Made

Custom Upholstered Furniture

Since 1974

High Point, North Carolina


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