Ask an Upholsterer: Think Twice Before You Trash Grandma’s Sofa

“They sure don’t make’em like they used to.”
 
At least that’s what my upholsterer-husband, Gary, says about the quality of furniture these days.  Now, that’s not to say that quality furniture isn’t out there, because it definitely is.  It’s just that now you have to look harder than you used to.
 
A couple weeks ago I shared Gary’s tips for buying a sofa, one of which mentioned the importance of the hardwood frame.  Because Gary believes that the frame is the most essential part of any sofa (or upholstered chair), I thought I’d spend a little more time on this topic.

Sofa with hardwood frame reupholstered by Gary

It used to be the norm for furniture frames to be made from dried hardwoods like maple, walnut, ash, poplar, hickory, and oak.  These are some of the good hardwoods that are recognized for their strength and durability, and furniture frames made from these hardwoods are known to hold up over time and use.  However, in the early 1990’s Gary began to notice a shift in the furniture world.  Instead of hardwood furniture frames being the norm, he started to notice that more and more furniture frames were being made from plywood and chipboard—both of which are lighter and less durable manufactured woods.
 
If you want a sofa (or upholstered chair) that will withstand years of constant use, you really ought to choose one that has a hardwood frame.  A hardwood frame will not break down, fall apart, or loosen up like a frame made out of plywood or chipboard.  As your personal tastes change or the fabric wears out, you can easily have your piece reupholstered.  In fact, that is what is so great about quality furniture.  A sofa or chair with a hardwood frame can be reupholstered time and time again and still look fantastic. 
 
So next time you’re out shopping for that sofa you want to last for the next ten years, try moving or lifting it.  If it reminds you of your grandma’s heavy sofa, you have a good piece on your hands.

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