What Makes Good Upholstery Construction? Let's Explore the Ingredients!
Whether you're shopping for something as simple as a dining chair or as essential as a new sofa, selecting a piece of upholstered furniture made to last is a must—especially when you're making a significant investment in a new piece. With so many different furniture brands on the market today, knowing exactly what to look for in quality upholstered furniture can be easier said than done.
What is good upholstery? How can you be sure you're getting what you've paid for and that your new piece of furniture is designed to last?
If you're shopping around for a new piece of upholstered furniture, there are a few key "ingredients" to look for that will set the quality brands apart from the rest. At Domaine Furnishings, we take great pride in our expertly crafted furnishings—using only the finest materials and trusted construction methods to ensure they hold up to the test of time.
Excellent furniture quality always begins with solid construction from the best materials. Ideally, upholstered furniture will feature solid wood construction as the skeleton of the piece. Although you won't actually see this portion of the furniture, the use of solid wood is a must when it comes to long-term durability. Ideally, you'll want to select a furniture piece that uses kiln-dried hardwood for its framing; not only is this type of wood less susceptible to cracking or warping over time, but it's also more resistant to moisture.
When assessing the construction of a furniture piece, look beyond the materials used to the methods used in holding pieces together. Specifically, seek out upholstered furniture with corners held together with a dovetail, dowels, or mortise-and-tenon joinery. These methods will hold up far better than anything with staples, glue, or nails alone.
Practical Suspension Options
While not visible to the naked eye, one of the most important indicators of quality in a piece of upholstered furniture is the suspension. Specifically, this refers to the system underneath the cushion that is designed to support the seat and provide added comfort.
There are many types of suspension systems used in upholstered furniture, with some of the most durable including:
- Eight-way hand-tied - This suspension involves a series of coiled springs that runs from the back of the sofa (or chair) to the front, tied ‘eight-ways’ from each coil to the surrounding coils. These springs are carefully tied together and attached to the furniture frame by hand, running in eight different directions to provide optimal support and comfort.
- Pirelli Webbing - With this type of suspension system, latex rubber filaments are wrapped in a polypropylene yarn before they are individually woven into strips. These strips are then attached from the front to the back of the furniture frame, usually in two-inch increments. The result is a more even weight distribution without sacrificing comfort or support. This type of construction is often used for furniture pieces with a more modern or minimalist design, as these systems can be installed with minimal frame depth requirements.
- Sinuous spring - In sinuous spring suspension, serpentine springs are run from the front to the back of a furniture piece in intervals ranging from about two to three inches. From there, a set of straight wires is installed perpendicular to these serpentine springs to provide necessary support.
Ultimately, it all boils down to the type of upholstery design, how well the suspension method has been crafted and installed—as well as the quality of the materials used.
Premium Foam and Fill Options
Once again, the quality of a furniture piece is only sometimes reflected in what's visible to the eye. Underneath the upholstery itself, all upholstered furniture pieces will have some sort of filling or cushion material. The contents of these cushions can have a significant impact on the longevity of the piece, as a cushion filled with low-quality material is likely to lose its shape (and become uncomfortable) over time.
Ideally, you'll be able to select from a range of premium foam and fill options to achieve your desired look and comfort. If you prefer something that's a little firmer and more resilient, look for a furniture piece with a high-density memory foam or poly-wrapped foam core. On the other hand, if you love sinking into a plush furniture piece, then a less dense memory foam or even a down material may be more suitable.
Upholstered cushions that can be removed, flipped, or rotated can significantly extend the lifespan of your new furniture. This is especially true on sofas, which are prone to a great deal of everyday wear and tear.
Being able to remove cushions makes them easier to fluff and reshape, which can keep them looking like new for years to come. Meanwhile, taking the time to rotate and flip individual cushions can minimize the wear on upholstery and even make it possible to conceal an unsightly stain that you just haven't been able to remove.
In general, it's best to avoid furniture pieces that don't feature removable cushions unless you're comfortable putting much more care and maintenance into keeping the upholstery looking its absolute best.
Thoughtful Tailoring and Upholstery Work
Even the seemingly smallest details, such as the tailoring and stitching on an upholstered piece, matter greatly to the appearance and longevity of the furniture itself. Not only does stitching serve a functional purpose—but it can also be used to accentuate the curves and lines of a furniture piece, creating eye-catching detail that can take your interior design to the next level.
As you explore tailoring and stitching features on upholstered furniture, look for seams and stitches that will hold up to the test of time while adding beauty to a piece. In lieu of a plain seam, for example, look for furniture with a double top stitch or even a piped seam for added durability and visual interest.
The material used for the upholstery also matters. Opt for natural or synthetic materials that have been tested to resist pilling and shedding over time. This will save you from needing to reupholster or repair your furniture after a few years.
Attention to Detail
At the end of the day, quality furniture construction is all about the seemingly smallest of details. If a patterned fabric is used for an upholstered furniture piece, for example, designers and upholsterers should ensure that the pattern matches and flows neatly. Otherwise, you run the risk of the piece looking sloppy and disjointed.
Look also for features like D rings, which make removing cushions from the deck easy for easy fluffing and reshaping. These rings will also hold cushions securely in place while clipped to the deck, keeping your furniture looking its best. Likewise, upholstery cushion covered with zippers can make it easier to reshape cushions that have fallen flat or become misshapen over time. This is an ideal option for cushions filled with softer material, such as down or cotton.
Shop Domaine Furnishings Today
From our beautifully upholstered chairs to plush daybeds, cozy ottomans, and more—Domaine Furnishings offers a wide selection of upholstered furniture crafted with the highest quality and craftsmanship in mind. With distinctive features to extend the life of your furniture, such as quality tailoring and kiln-dried hardwood frames, you can rest assured that your next furniture purchase can hold up to the demands of everyday life. Shop our collection today and contact our team at (403) 301-2339 to learn more about our design and construction process.