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How to Discern Furniture Build Quality

furniture build quality

Furniture is an important investment for your home. You want pieces that will stand up to every day wear and tear, yet you don’t want to spend a fortune on them. To make sure you’re spending your money wisely, use the following guide to learn about different furniture designs and how to tell if you’re buying quality furniture.

Buying Wood Furniture

Wood furniture comes in three main types: particleboard, veneers, and solid wood. Particleboard, sometimes also called composite wood, is furniture made from combining resin,wood furniture quality plastics, and wood pulp. While they can look nice, they’re the cheapest pieces of wood furniture and won’t hold up long. Veneers are wood bases covered in a thin layer of a higher-quality wood. Since they have a cheaper core, they’re less expensive than solid wood pieces. Solid wood pieces are usually the most expensive and durable of the three options.

Inspect Construction of Wood Furniture

If you’re looking at a solid wood piece, you want to make sure it doesn’t have a lot of knots on unexposed areas. Knots weaken the furniture and are susceptible to cracking. You also want to inspect the joints and be sure they’re either screwed or doweled. If you see joints stapled, nailed, or with visible glue, this is a sign of poor quality. Finally, make sure the piece sits level on the floor and doesn’t tilt, wobble, or lean.

Look at the Cushion Filling

couch cushions

The most common type of cushion filling is high-density foam, and the higher the density, the higher quality the cushion. Ideally, you want to look for a foam density rating of 1.8 pounds or higher. This is quality foam that won’t break down quickly and cause sags in your cushion.

If you want a soft cushion, consider down for the filling. This is a premium choice and the most expensive, but it’s often much softer than foam. Finally, look for cushion covers that have the same color or pattern on both sides. While it’s more expensive than a cover with a plain white backing, you can flip them over to make them last longer.

Inspect the Frame

chaise chair frame

When you’re looking at a sofa, chair, or other seating, how long it will last depends almost entirely on how solid the frame is. A quality frame is made from kiln-dried hardwood, because this process removes all the moisture from the wood and allows it to hold its shape for a long time. Also keep in mind that metal, plastic, rubber, and nailed-in wood legs don’t last as long as heavy wood legs jointed to the frame.

One trick to know whether you’re buying a quality sofa is to look for a fifth leg in the center of the piece. This provides extra support, and many low-quality sofas won’t have it.

Testing the Seating Support

Always test the seating support in a chair or sofa by sitting on it. You should feel good support in your back, and it shouldn’t sag. Eight-way hand-tied coil springs offer the best support and are very high quality. Another seating support method to look for is sinuous spring construction. This provides a strong seat and is often used on smaller frames.

Check the Moving Parts


When you’re looking at a dresser or cabinet or other piece of furniture with moving parts, make sure you open all doors and drawers to see that they work properly. The doors should open smoothly, stay open, and shut easily without having to push too hard. Drawers should pull all the way out, close smoothly when pushed back in, and be flush and even against the piece. Finally, check the knobs and handles to make sure they don’t wobble or turn.

How to Inspect Furniture When Shopping

If you’re shopping for furniture in a store, the best way to inspect it is to get up close and personal with it. Sit in it, lift it, look under it, and walk all around it. Also ask the salesperson to give you all the information he or she can about the piece.

If you’re shopping online, make sure you inspect all the posted pictures. Also be sure to thoroughly read the product description, since most will list the construction materials. Finally, read the reviews left by other customers. These can often give you an idea of quality from people who actually own and use the piece.

Buying Fully Assembled Furniture


In general, if you buy furniture that’s already assembled, as opposed to furniture that comes in flat pieces that you assemble on your own, you’ll get a higher-quality piece. This isn’t a guarantee, since it’s possible to buy furniture you put together yourself that will last a long time. However, buying fully assembled furniture means you’re buying a piece where the furniture maker spends more time focusing on quality and design.

Buying Custom-Built Furniture

While not as easy to find as it once was, if you want the highest quality piece of furniture possible, or you need a piece of furniture with specific dimensions or features, buying custom-built furniture might be the option for you. You’ll typically have to find a furniture maker in your area who specializes in the material or type of furniture you’re interested in. Keep in mind that the national average cost of building a custom piece of furniture is around $2,500, so it’s certainly an investment you have to consider carefully.

How to Get a Good Deal on Furniture

furniture quality

While buying quality furniture is an investment, that doesn’t mean you can’t look for a good deal. Furniture prices vary throughout the year, but you can often find the best deals around Christmas or the Fourth of July when retailers are trying to clear out old inventory.

When you put in the time and money to find that perfect piece of furniture for your house, you want to make sure it lasts. By using these tips to determine furniture quality, you can feel confident about the furniture you’re buying.

Interested in browsing furniture on BuildDirect? Take a look at our wide selection here. If you have questions, ask us in the comments section below.

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