How to Find High-Quality Furniture for Your Home
What to look for in furniture descriptions and the questions to ask when talking with a salesperson or customer service rep
Whether you’re on the hunt for a comfy new sofa or you’re looking for a sturdy dining table, it can be difficult to tell which pieces are really made to last. Scanning online furniture descriptions closely for some key words that indicate quality can help. Here’s what to look for in upholstered and wood furniture. If you shop in store, ask whether the furniture you’re interested in has these features.
Sofas, armchairs, etc.
Construction: A kiln-dried hardwood frame with eight-way hand-tied springs is tops in quality. Less expensive webbing support can be comfortable but tends to stretch over time. Plywood platform support is the least expensive—and the least comfortable.
Tables, bookcases, desks, etc.
Construction: Many people think solid wood is best, but wood veneer can be more affordable and work well for bookshelves and other large, solid pieces.
Joints: Dovetail joints are strongest, but furniture with “butt” joints (which are glued) can stand up well and cost less.
Finish: Surfaces should be smooth and finishes even. For dining-room tables and other heavily used pieces, a catalyzed conversion varnish will be more resistant to wear than a lacquer top coat.
Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the February 2021 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.