How to Tell the Difference Between Well-Made Furniture and the Cheap Stuff
You simply ordered an attractive wooden credenza on-line. You eagerly await its arrival, believing that after it comes, your front room will lastly really feel full. However once you put it collectively, you discover the center is already sagging and there’s a scratch on the facet. The wooden isn’t wooden in any respect however garish laminate or particle board, nothing just like the shiny wooden picture you noticed on-line.
On the subject of furnishings, on-line buying could be our greatest and worst enemy. And even items that you just purchase in particular person might look nice on the floor however are shoddily made beneath. So with the assistance of our designer James Tabb, we’ve put collectively suggestions for telling the distinction between high-quality furnishings and a budget stuff. By no means get duped once more!
Examine the finish
The number one sign that a piece of furniture is made cheaply is its finish. “Whether it’s the color or sheen of a wood stain, the touch or feel of a fabric, or the patina on a piece of metal, this is a dead-ringer. There is something inherently ‘fake’ looking and feeling about inexpensive furniture. It always seems to be imitating something it’s not,” says James.
Know your materials
Sometimes you strike gold with high-quality, inexpensive furniture, but more often than not, cheap means cheap. Having a knowledge bank of which materials are cheap and which are high-quality can help you make the right choice. “Products such as MDF, paperboard, laminates, melamine, cardboard, soft woods, staples, lightweight foams, fabrics, and filling are hallmarks of mass-produced, inexpensive furnishings,” James explains.
Quality furniture is generally made from hard and solid woods, joints are integrated into frame components, and pieces are reinforced with screws and glue. A well-made lounge chair, couch or bed has hand-tied coil springs, cotton filling, high-density foam, or down filler. When it comes to fabrics and upholstery, natural-fiber fabrics such as linen, cotton, and wool are the way to go.
Take it for a test drive
If you’re shopping for any piece of furniture you might lounge upon, the simplest way to figure out if it’s quality or not is to sit on it. “Don’t ever buy the old line ‘once it wears-in it will be more comfortable.’ That simply means the piece is going to wear out quickly. Find a sofa or chair that has a good high-density foam core, wrapped in a down or down alternative for softness. These cushions will need fluffing occasionally, but should last decades,” says James.
If it’s shelving, a desk, or table that you’re shopping for, put some weight on it, wiggle it, and see if it holds up under pressure.
Buy close to home
It’s always best to purchase furniture that’s designed and manufactured close to where it’s distributed. “This usually ensures quality control at the highest level.” If it’s made in the USA or Europe and has a flagship store nearby, that’s a good sign. Anything made in China should generally be avoided if you’re looking for durability.
Weight makes a difference
Weight can be a tricky thing to track because it all depends on the specific piece of furniture. “If you are buying a cast iron lamp, for example, you should expect it to be heavy vs. light. If it’s unexpectedly light, it’s most likely made from some other material to mimic iron. Conversely, if you have a wood writing desk that weighs two tons, it’s most likely made of paper board or MDF which has a higher density than most solid woods, and therefore would be heavier.” Heavier doesn’t always mean better. Generally, something made from wood should fall somewhere in the middle.
Seek out handcrafted and antique goods
“Handcrafted furnishings are generally made with more care and attention to detail than their mass-produced counterparts. Both can be durable and last a long time, but handcrafted pieces will be more refined, unique, and special,” says James. If you’re looking for high quality but can’t afford top of the line, search Craigslist, antique stores, and flea markets. Purchasing something vintage with great bones and getting it refinished or reupholstered often means you can get much higher quality at a much lower price.