By Richard Ribbing
When you arrive at the furniture store and see a piece of furniture you like, sit down on it. Does it feel comfortable? Check the arms to see if there is enough padding, you don't want to feel any sharp edges from the frame. If it doesn't have enough padding the fabric is going to wear out, and it's not going to be comfortable. Bounce up and down on it, you don't want to hear any sounds, like a squeaky frame or any springs hitting on the frame. If it's a sofa lift up one end from the floor, then wiggle it around a little. It should feel heavy and solid. Now we can go on to a closer inspection of the furniture.
If you don't see these things listed, a salesperson should be happy to help you. .
Lets start out with the frame. On the best pieces of furniture, the frame is constructed from a hard wood. The most popular would be oak, maple or ash. It should be kiln dried. I would not advise a plywood frame or plastic. Some furniture manufactures are using them now. The legs should be made of wood, and attached directly to the frame. Some manufactures use plastic or metal legs, I would avoid them.
Now we can go over the type of spring we should be looking for. These would be located under the seat cushions, this part of the furniture is called the deck. The best spring setup would be eight- way hand tied springs. This makes the piece more expensive because there is a lot more labor involved. My second choice would be a ready made coil spring unit. These would be coil springs hooked together to make a unit. My third choice would be no sag zigger wire springs. I would not recommend using these unless the piece of furniture has a hardwood frame.
Cushions are going to be an important part of the furniture. High density polyurethane foam with a wrap of Dacron is what is used most often. If you select foam make sure it is at least 1.8 or 2.5 density. If it is any less than that, you are going to end up replacing the cushions before too long. Just remember you want the Dacron wrap, without it the foam will wear out the fabric. Other cushions to consider are spring and down cushion. These cushions have a spring unit usually wrapped with Dacron or encased in a foam unit. Then the whole unit is then inserted into a muslin cover of channeled down blend. You can also have a down blend cushion. Down blend are feathers and down mixed together. These are the softest and most comfortable. The choice you make is up to you. Some people like a firm cushion, and some like a soft one. Back cushions are a lot softer than seat cushions. These will usually be made with softer foam or all Dacron, encased in a muslin cover.
The choice of fabric has to be taken under consideration. It depends on where you are going to be using the piece of furniture. If your going to be using it in the family room you'll want to pick out a fabric that's going to be durable. Synthetics might be best like, polyester, nylon , olefin, or a blend of different synthetics. Leather or vinyl would also be a good choice. For a formal living room or bedroom, you can use a more delicate fabric. Natural fibers like cotton, wool, linen, silk. I would stay away from using rayon unless it is in a blend. Rayon doesn't seem to hold up very good.
In conclusion, just take your time and don't be afraid to ask questions. You want to make sure your new piece of furniture is going to be comfortable, and serviceable for a long time.