A sofa should look great, feel comfortable and last a long time. A high-quality sofa is an investment. It won’t come cheap, but you’ll get more value for your money when you buy a solidly made piece of furniture.
A quality sofa keeps its shape for many years. Budget furniture wears out quickly and may begin sagging right away.
How do you judge the quality of a sofa? The frame, seating construction, filling and fabric all play a role in style, longevity and comfort.
Our sofa buying guide takes you through the most important considerations when choosing the right sofa for your home.
A strong frame ensures a sofa will stand up to normal wear and tear. Look for a frame made from hardwood. The wood should be properly dried to prevent shrinking and cracking. A frame made from kiln-dried hardwood is stable and long-lasting.
Soft and green woods can bend and break. Particle board is generally on the low end of quality. Plywood comes in different grades. Some types, those that have many layers, are more sturdy than others.
Construction techniques make a difference in quality. Hardwood that has been joined with glue, dowels and screws is solid. Plywood or particle board frames that have been stapled together may be flimsy.
Test a sofa’s seating by sitting on it in the showroom. Does it sag? Is it bouncy? A good sofa will feel firm yet comfortable. The sofa back should feel stable and supportive. Here are three of the most common types of support systems:
- Hand-tied springs are often found in top-quality sofas. Each spring is connected to the next spring by twine.
- Sinuous springs are strong, with wires crossing from one side to another. Smaller sofas often use sinuous springs.
- Web suspension is generally the least supportive option. Bands of web are stretched and attached to the frame to support the seat and back.
High density polyurethane is the most common type of cushion filling. It’s a good choice for most people because it’s comfortable, durable and economical.
The higher the density, the firmer the cushion. Denser cushions last longer. If you like a soft, pillowy feel, look for foam topped or wrapped in a soft material. Low-quality foam can wear out quickly, compressing, sagging and losing shape.
Down-filled cushions are soft and warm. They are more expensive and high maintenance than foam. If you put a premium on luxury, down used in combination with another material is a good choice. Look for a sofa with ticking that prevents the down from poking through the upholstery.
People often choose a sofa based on color, but there’s more to consider when you’re assessing fabric. Durability and ease of care are also important. Here’s what to consider:
Durability: If you have kids or pets, choose a tough fabric that’s easy to clean. A tight weave won’t snag as easily as a loose, soft construction. The higher the thread count, the longer the fabric will last.
Microfiber and leather sofas are good choices if you need a sofa that stands up to rugged use. Little hands and paws take a toll, but microfiber and most leathers are easy to clean. Leather and faux leather in particular are often kid and pet proof.
Color: Choose a color that you like and that fits with your decor and lifestyle. Light colors are higher maintenance since they show stains and spills. Dark colors and patterns can hide dirt.
Neutral colors offer the most versatility. If you change the color scheme in your interior, neutral furniture will still look great.
A bold bright sofa can be a focal point. If you go bold, just be sure to choose a color that you’ll love for a long time.
Prints: Casual sofas often feature prints or checks. Prints can be attractive, but may look out-of-date more quickly than a solid-colored sofa.
Choose the Right Size
Choose a sofa that fits into your space and is the right scale in comparison to your room and other furniture. Be sure to test a sofa for comfort. If you like to nap on the sofa, stretch out across the cushions.
How many people does the sofa need to sit? In general, you’ll want a sofa that has one cushion per person. In a family room, a sectional is a great choice since it can be configured in various ways to seat many people.
Measure your space. Know the width of all the passageways your sofa must travel: doorways, halls and staircases. Measure the space where you plan to place the sofa.
You can block out the shape with masking tape to make measurements more accurate. Measure architectural features near where you plan to place the sofa.
Do you want motion furniture? Pieces that recline, swivel or rock need additional clearance.
Furniture looks smaller in a showroom. Don’t rely on your senses alone to gauge a sofa’s size. Take a tape measure with you when you shop. Here’s how to measure a couch:
- Width: Measure the widest part of the couch. This will usually be from arm to arm.
- Height: Measure from the floor to the highest point on the back of the couch.
- Depth: Measure from the front to the back on one side of the sofa.
- Diagonal depth: Measure from the bottom front to the top back. Why? Delivery people may need to hold the sofa at an angle to get through doorways.
What’s Your Style?
Are you old-school? Do you admire simple lines and fabrics? Are you addicted to plaid? Chances are you already know your style. Even if you know what you like, take time to explore various looks and styles.
Here are the characteristics of some of the most popular styles:
Traditional: Traditional sofas have skirts, rolled arms and tufted cushions on the seats and backs. This classic style often features rich colors and formal fabrics such as chintz and damask.
Modern: Modern styles are characterized by clean lines and few frills. These couches are often microfiber or leather.
Transitional style: Updated classics blend traditional and modern looks. These pieces may be updated classics, adapted for modern tastes and lifestyles. Or they may be inspired by sleek, modern sofas but softened with comfy fabrics such as corduroy or ultrasuede.
Country: Country styles feature florals, plaids and checks. Lighter colors, vintage prints and homespun looks characterize these sofas.
Coastal: Do you want your home to look like a beach house? Natural fibers and light neutrals are reminiscent of seaside resorts. Look for fabrics that appear weathered and muted.
Eclectic: Anything goes with an eclectic interior. If this is your style, your home may be a mix of traditions. Vibrant colors, bold patterns and daring art may be your passions. Many types of furniture, from traditional to modern will look fit in your home.
Find the Right Sofa at Broadway Furniture in Portland, Oregon
We’ve been helping Oregon families find the perfect sofa for 81 years. Visit our Tigard store or give us a call at 503-281-5555.