Sofa Buyers Guide – How to Buy The Best Sofa
A sofa can be a part of the family for a long time, so in this sofa buyers guide, we’ve brought together some useful hints and tips to help guide you in how to buy the best sofa.
There’s no doubt that a sofa can be a big investment, and even if you only plan on keeping it for a few years, sofas often make their way to other rooms in the house, or are even passed to other family members or friends. With this longevity in mind, it’s worth taking your time when you’re choosing which sofa to buy.
Quality sofas should feel good and solid. A simple test is to just sit down on a sofa and assess if there’s if it feels solid. It shouldn’t feel flimsy, even if you sit down heavily. Next, lift the sofa by one of it’s corners and try to wobble and shake it. If it feels light or wobbly, chances are its not a quality construction.
Look for a frame made from a hardwood. A strong frame is essential and a sturdy frame means a long-lasting sofa. Soft wood is low-cost and may warp or wobble after a few years. Although more expensive, hardwood is more durable. Try to avoid buying frames made of particleboard, plastic, or metal as these can warp and crack.
Many sofas have sinuous “serpentine” springs, which are pre-assembled sets of snaking wire. They’re nicely supportive, but they can press on the frame or sag over time if the metal isn’t heavy gauge. Look for eight-way hand-tied springs, as these are often an indicator of quality furniture. They’re comfy but expensive and some experts feel they’re no better than serpentines. To complicate this though, S-shaped springs can provide almost as much comfort. Feel the springs through the fabric and see if they are close together and firm. Sofas that have no springs and just use webbing or mesh, can be less comfortable and flimsy.
Top Tip: Sit down hard on a corner or outside edge of the sofa and listen for squeaks and creaks. These suggest that springs are incorrectly positioned or hitting the frame.
It’s also worth trying to avoid legs that are simply connected to the frame, ideally they should be an integral part of the sofa frame.
Quality of Joinery is important. Look for sofas that have joints that have double dowels, and are fitted with corner blocks joined with glue and screws. If the frame is connected with joints connected by wooden dowels, double wooden dowels, wooden corner blocks (check the tag as it may indicate that the corner blocks are glued and screwed), or metal screws and brackets you can be sure it’s a good quality, solid frame. Staples or nails may be used for extra reinforcement, but you should never buy a sofa that is just held together by staples, nails, or glue. If in doubt, ask your salesperson for written manufacturer information regarding the joinery used to construct the frame.
Top Tip: If you want to test frame strength, lift one front corner or leg of the sofa off the floor. By around 10cm of height or even before, the other front leg should also lift. If it’s still on the floor, the frame has too much flex and less strength.
Next on the agenda are cushions. Most likely they will have a core of polyurethane foam, and bear in mind that the denser and heavier the foam, the longer it will last.
In lower cost furniture, cushions tend to be filled with just the polyurethane foam core. In higher quality furniture the core is wrapped with a batting. Top quality cushions can be a poly-down mix, which have down mixed with the batting. Also look out for spring-down cushions, which feature a core of springs surrounded by foam and feathers.
This is really personal choice, but if you’re stuck for ideas here are some pointers. Look for a sofa that complements the style of your home. For more traditional interiors, look for a sofa with rolled arms, a contoured back, skirting or tufted cushions.
If you have a contemporary home, when you buy the best sofa it may tend to have cleaner lines, fewer flourishes and understated upholstery and colour.
Since sofas are a big investment, you be aiming for one that will look fashionable as long as possible. With that in mind, it is a good idea to look for a neutral colour fabric. COlour and pattern can be added with throws and cushions, and will be easier and cheaper to change, especially if you redecorate.
One caveat to this though is if you have kids. In this case, a neutral sofa can be more prone to visible marks and stains, so you may want to consider a darker colour or a sofa with a subtle pattern.
Generally speaking, synthetic fabrics can be more durable, hold their colour well and are easier to clean. Tightly woven fabrics and fabrics that are heavy will stand up to wear and tear better, as will leather.
Whichever fabric you consider, ask the store for a sample or cutting that you can take home to think about before you buy. You may even be allowed to borrow a cushion from the sofa you’re interested in buying. You can see the material under the light in your intended room, and see how it compliments other pieces of furniture.
Room size is important, and you should consider the proportions of the room and determine what height, length and depth of sofa would compliment the available space. One great tip if you’re uncertain, is to mock up a footprint or outline (using the exact measurements of a sofa you’re considering) on the floor using masking tape. Even better is ‘building’ a sofa out of empty boxes. This will give a very realistic feeling of how the sofa will fill the space.
Seating space is a consideration too, and if you plan to spend a lot of time lying on the sofa or snoozing on it, make sure it has enough space between the arms to stretch out properly. Take into account the width of the arms, not just the overall width of the sofa.
Think about the number of people you want to seat. The gap between the main sofa cushions can be less comfortable, so if you get a sofa with two cushions, aim for just two people to use it. To seat more people, find a sofa with three cushions or a single long cushion (this is called a “bench” cushion).
Top Tip: If you have a small space, one option is to buy a sofa with low or no arms. This can make your room seem larger.
The Back of The Sofa
Typically, there are two types of backs. Firstly there is a pillow back, which has removable cushions or pillows along the rear of the sofa. Secondly, there is a tight back, which has upholstery tailored to the shape of the back of the sofa.
Pillow-back sofas are often more comfortable look softer, but unless you fluff them regularly, the cushions will mostly look slightly uneven. If this sort of detail will bother you, you may prefer buying a sofa with a tight back.
Also think about the depth of the seat and the angle between the seat and the back , as this will affect how comfortable you feel on the sofa. This is really down to personal preference, but you as a simple guide, if there’s a sofa or armchair you find comfortable, measure the distance from the inside of your knee to the spot where your lower back touches the back of the sofa. Aim to buy a sofa that has similar dimensions.
Buy the best quality sofa that you can afford. Your sofa will then serve you well over many years. Plus, it’s usually cheaper to reupholster a good sofa than to buy a new one of similar quality. We hope you found this sofa buyers guide useful, and that our top tips will help you buy the best sofa for your needs. Why not take a look at our superb collection of sofas and take advantage of our fantastic prices and special offers.