What to Consider When Buying a New Sofa


Your new sofa will see a lot of use. You, your guests, family and even pets will likely enjoy time on this crucial piece of furniture. To get one that will last, you need to pay attention to the frame as well as the fabric and cushion construction.

Check the Frame

You want a sofa with a wooden frame, not one built of particle board. In addition, it’s a good idea to look for a frame that’s more than pine. The seller should have information about the material that went into the sofa. To test it yourself, lift up the back corner of the sofa and watch the front leg. It should lift up before you’re six inches off the floor at the back. If it doesn’t, the frame is weak and won’t stand up to years of use.

Choose the Right Fabric

You may be tempted with cream canvas or leather, but if you have pets or kids it’s good to wait to purchase your dream couch until you have a bit more control of your space. Your furniture is going to get used, so choose fabrics that are

  • removable
  • easy to clean, and
  • durable enough to stand up to claws and sneakers

You’ll need to take the sofa apart to vacuum it, so carefully review how easy it is to get into the crevices and cracks before you take it home.

Get Firm Cushions

The construction rule for a quality couch is that the bottom cushions are of dense, hearty foam and the back cushions are of softer material that can be plumped up. When choosing your sofa, don’t completely reject any cushions that feel almost stiff when you sit on them. The denser the foam, the longer they will hold up over time. Many cushions are heat sensitive, so as you sit in a particular spot the cushion will likely flex to provide you with a custom fit.

Consider Crate Construction

A crate-constructed piece of furniture has bare wood on the frame and arms. Some of these pieces are completely constructed of visible wood and the cushions can be removed for cleaning or replacement. This style of construction has been around for a long time, such as the first recliner or Morris Chair. This mission style of chair construction often included a foot rest and the back could be adjusted with movable pegs. If you purchase a sofa in this style, you can easily review the condition of the frame and change out cushion covers to suit your taste and the season. Be aware that the cushions in this type of construction are generally all foam, so you may need some softer pillows to lean against.

Do a Test Drive

Will this sofa be a spot for television watching or will you nap on it? If you plan this to be your primary family gathering spot for movies, consider a faux leather product and plenty of throws to make it easier to clean up spilled food and beverages. If you’re going to nap on it, kick off your shoes and lay down on the sofa to see if you fit and if the fabric warms up. Leather and faux leather are easy to care for but hard to sleep on; fabric sofas are warmer but harder to clean if someone spills a soda or a snack.

Measure Twice

A comfortable sofa needs to fit you well from hip to knee. If you’re tall, this can be a challenge because the sofa footprint can be quite large. Take the time to measure the space where the sofa will live and make sure it won’t take over the room.

A quality sofa will be spacious, strong and easy to clean. Be sure to shop carefully for this item and be willing to wait a few weeks if you need a special upholstery fabric. Sofas take up a lot of real estate, so getting the color right is critical.