Buy and maintain long-lasting upholstered furniture

July 29, 2015

If you purchase good-quality upholstered pieces and manage to protect them from harm, they will serve you for decades.

Buy and maintain long-lasting upholstered furniture

Make them look showroom new

  • To keep sofas and upholstered chairs looking like new, rotate and turn the cushions each time you vacuum.
  • Turn and fluff down cushions every time you use your sofa to prevent the down from settling and flattening.

You want a durable frame

  • If you want to know if a frame will last or not, look for well-glued joints secured with double dowels or those that interlock with mortises-and-tenons, dovetails or grooves known as dadoes.
  • Major joints should be reinforced with corner blocks (a triangular wooden block glued and screwed to the inside of a corner to provide rigidity).
  • Simple butt joints that are secured with screws or nails will not hold up to the wear and tear most furniture pieces must endure.
  • On furniture with curves and contours, look for pieces with curved wood frames.
  • This sounds obvious, but many curved pieces get their shape from padding and cushioning — not from the actual frame — and will not hold their shape for long.

What’s the best fabric?

  • The rule of thumb when it comes to judging the strength and durability of upholstery fabric is the tighter the weave, the longer the wear. Hold fabric to a strong light.
  • The less light that shines through, the tighter the weave.
  • Cotton and cotton-polyester blends are suitable fabrics, as well as many other synthetics (all of which are much improved over older versions of these fabrics).
  • Another tip: Highly textured fabrics are subject to pulling, snagging, and tearing; flat weaves are not and will generally wear better.

Long-lasting fillings

  • Down is the preferred filling for softness, but other fillings can last at least as long.
  • These include down combined with other fibres, fluffy polyester, high-resilience polyurethane foams and hair blends (mostly hog and cattle) for firm cushioning.

Stain treatment

  • Fabric on upholstered pieces should be treated to resist staining.
  • You'll get optimal stain resistance from a factory-applied fabric treatment.
  • Dealer-applied treatments are second best, and sprays you apply yourself are third — although much better than none at all.
  • If you have a slipcover made, you can also have it treated to repel stains.

Disguise a scorch

  • Burn mark on your favourite chair? If the burn didn't completely penetrate the fabric, you might be able to disguise the burn.
  • Wet a paper towel with plain water and dab it on the burn. Be careful not to rub, or you'll damage the fibres further.
  • Blot with a dry paper towel. If that doesn't take most of the charred spot out, put a drop of mild liquid laundry detergent on a wet paper towel and blot the spot.
  • Follow up by blotting with a wet paper towel to remove the detergent and then with a dry paper towel to absorb the char stain.

Get the best springs

  • Good quality chairs and sofas are made with the same quality materials as they have been constructed with for decades.
  • Eight-way, hand-tied coil springs are the strongest and most durable, according to industry experts.
  • The "eight-way" descriptor refers to how the coils are tied to one another in eight ways (for example, side to side, diagonally and row to row).
  • Zigzag springs are not as durable, but are acceptable for some applications, such as where internal mechanisms do not allow enough space for the use of coils.
  • Such is the case with a fold-out bed. Webbing supports the springs of your chair or sofa.
  • Jute or polyester webbing are preferred over nylon.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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