What to Look for in a Sofa
Compare couches and buy the best one for your living room
By Shelly McRae
Your sofa may be one of the central pieces of furniture in your living room or family room. What you expect from your sofa is style, comfort and durability. The materials and fabrics used in constructing a sofa are indicators of how comfortable that sofa will be and how long the sofa will last. The style should not only suit your personal aesthetic sensibilities but also have a timeless appeal that will allow you to transition the sofa through numerous decorating changes in your home.
The structure of a sofa lies in its frame. A sofa frame should be constructed from a hardwood such as oak or maple. The wood should be kiln-dried; this process removes the moisture while allowing the wood's strength to remain intact. The joints of the frame should be doweled for support, as well as glued and screwed together. The pressure exerted on a sofa frame comes not only from the weight of people, but also from the support springs as they compress and release throughout a sofa's lifetime.
Springs provide the support for the seating component, the cushions, of the sofa. The "eight-way hand-tied" method refers to a system by which coiled springs are tied together with twine that crosses each spring, which is literally tied in eight different directions. This provides exceptional support as it anchors the coiled springs while allowing them to compress and release for many years.
Padding and foam make up the majority of the materials used for the stuffing in sofa cushions. While a down filling provides luxurious comfort, it also requires daily fluffing and occasional refilling. Look for stuffing made up of high-density foam wrapped in batting. The batting provides the padded feel desirable in sofas and deters deterioration of the foam filler.
Fabric choices vary from soft and nubby chenille to practical olefin, a synthetic fiber. Fabrics woven from synthetic fibers, such as nylon or polyester, are more stain- and fade-resistant than fabrics woven from natural fibers such as cotton or linen. Consider who will be using your sofa when choosing fabric. If your sofa will be subject to the wear-and-tear of children and pets, consider a fabric constructed from synthetic fibers. It may not be quite so elegant as a soft linen fabric, but it will have a higher resistance to stains from fruit juice and dirty paws.
Taste is subjective so choose a sofa that you like, but keep in mind that not all styles go well together. For example, a decidedly mid-century modern style sofa will be difficult to weave into a softer contemporary room or a more traditional style, such as Mediterranean or art nouveau. Some enduring characteristics to look for would be a high back, rolled or rounded arms, and bun or square feet. Look for these features and then choose a fabric and cushion style that will make that sofa decidedly your style choice.
About the Author
Shelly McRae is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has experience with hydroponic gardening and other areas of the home improvement industry.
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