Don’t be tempted by cheap sofas that look good in the showroom

Don't be duped by cheaply made sofas and sectionals on the market in Mexico

Photo: Courtesy
Photo: Courtesy

This past week, I received several emails from people who bought a sofa based on its look rather than its construction.

{ Previously: Upholstery that stands up to Yucatan }

They spent their hard-earned, after-tax dollars on what they hoped would be a good investment. Unfortunately, within just a few months of purchase, they already have problems and are not having luck with the retailers to remedy the issues. Sadly, they all told me that they are likely going to need to buy a replacement.

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Sofa construction matters. How long a sofa lasts and how long it is comfortable is primarily due to its wood frame and suspension. To help protect you and your sofa investment, here are some tips.

Every well-built sofa starts with the right wood frame. The best option is a frame constructed from hardwood. Although more expensive, it will not be prone to bending and breaking. Just to be clear, softwoods could be used in a sofa but on non-critical areas such as arms and feet.

All woods used in your couch should be kiln-dried. Unless moisture is removed, your sofa could warp, shrink and crack quickly.

Frames can also be made from wood composites such as plywood, OSB, HDF and MDF. These are good options if you are looking for a sofa that is less expensive. Keep in mind that it will have a shorter life expectancy than hardwood. Avoid particle board at all costs. Different from plywood and MDF, it will not last in our environment. If the manufacturer uses quality engineered woods and resins and offers a solid warranty, this can be a good option for those looking for a reasonably priced solution.

The joints of your sofa need to be solid and strong. Basically, they need to be just as strong if not stronger than the wood itself. The best sofas have corners that are interlocked, glued, doweled, screwed in and reinforced with blocking.

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Next, make sure the sofa has the right suspension. The suspension is key for a long-lasting, comfortable sofa since its job is to bounce back in response to the weight of your body. Most sofas today use either springs or webbing.

When it comes to springs, there are two main options. One is an eight-way hand tied spring coil, and the other is called a sinuous spring. If budget is not an issue, the hand tied spring coils are considered by many. Most, however, will recommend the sinuous springs since they are less expensive and still very durable if the correct type of wire is used.

The third option is web suspension, in which there are bands of webbing across the seat and back that make a platform for the cushions. Unless the webbing is made from the right materials and attached correctly to the frame, your investment is likely to go south quickly. Look for polypropylene webbing and avoid jute.

New home in Mexico? Email Sheryl Novak at furniture@solutionsmexico.com.

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