Durable Furniture?

KJMMJuly 17, 2014

Hi All,

I just bought a house, and I only furnished two rooms. So far, the furniture has been getting destroyed in just a very, very short period of time. I have a 4 year old, a 3 year old, two mastiffs (one is a puppy), and a pug... and the five of them have done a number on my couch, chairs, and ottoman. The fabric, legs, and even frame. The furniture, the wood, all of it falling apart, lol. The couch is in the worst condition. They are all the linen/studded/tufted styles that I love right now. All were ordered from Home Decorators Collection, Wayfair, Overstock, etc...

I still like the same styles, but I want more durable options. Any suggestions on where I should look or what to look for? I was thinking leather, and I have been looking at Horchow a long time... but I know more expensive doesn't always mean better quality or more durable.

So I'm looking for an attractive but VERY durable sectional in the above mentioned style, no more than about 100" long, and two accent/lounge chairs. This would be for the family room so this is where everyone spends the most time, and I do let the mastiff puppy and the pug on the couch, so its gotta be scratch resistant, durable, and the frame needs to be able to handle weight and abuse.

I know that's a tall order... but I remember my partents' couches lasting decades of abuse, mine didn't last three months. Help!

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Don't order furniture online unless you really know what you are getting. There are two schools of thought when approaching furniture that will get heavy wear. One is to go as cheap as possible with the realization that it will be bad in a year or two. That way you don't feel as bad when it gets beat up and your investment is minimal. It's a horrible feeling when you spend a lot and it does not last much more than the cheap stuff. The other school of thought is to get as high a quality product as you can with the hope that it will endure the abuse or that it is worthwhile to repair when it does look bad.

If people expect a lot of wear on the fabric, one option is to get a slipcover style sofa which you can just change the cover each time it starts getting bad, but it doesn't sound like this is the style you are going for. Leather is noted as generally being more durable than fabric as well as not collecting animal hair all the time. However, leather can still tear and get holes and it tends to be more obvious when it does vs a fabric. There are some heavy wear fabrics out there, but you really need to go to a real furniture store and check out their fabric swatches and look for the information for durability of it and washability of it. A fabric rates W or WS for cleaning is going to be much easier to clean than one listed as S. You also want to make sure you choose one with a heavy wear rating. Talk to the salesman at the store. A good one can help steer you to the fabrics that will hold up the best.

You can get just as durable furniture with mid level furniture as you can with high end furniture with certain brands, but you have to be careful. A lot of what you are paying for high end is a higher level of craftmanship, more attention to detail to upholstery, and a possibility of greater style (not to mention the exclusivity of the brand name). None of these factors necessarily make the furniture that much more durable.

For starters, two mid-level brands to look at are Flexsteel and Smith Brothers. For flexsteel, stay away from their made in China Latitudes line. Otherwise, they are very durable in terms of frame, springs, and cushions. They do have some fabrics that wear very well. Where they tend to lack some competitors at the price level is fit and finish of the upholstery. The seams and stitching are not always on par for the price, but they are still a durable couch.

Smith Brothers gets a lot of love here and elsewhere. They are made in Indiana and get a lot of good marks for quality of construction. Great frames, springs, cushions, and workmanship.

Its possible neither one of these companies have a style that will suit you. I would get offline and get into furniture stores to see what they have. Ask a lot of questions about build quality and durability of specific fabrics. Ask to look at the swatches and get the ratings for wearability and cleaning. If the salesman is blowing a lot of fluff or can't really answer questions adequately, see if there is someone there that can or skip the store entirely. Ask about their after sale support. Do they have an onsite repair shop? The ones that do tend to offer stronger after sale support (but not always and there are still good stores without repair shops) and may be able to do authorized repairs on site without having to send stuff to the factory. Don't buy immediately. Get the information on make and model and do some research. See if you can find information online about the brand. If you have questions about construction features or build, ask questions here and at other sites and see if the brand is reputable. Good furniture stores won't pressure you to buy on the spot unless their product is sketchy and they know if you see something elsewhere you may be gone. It's not uncommon for shoppers to be in five or six times before buying and the good ones will be patient with you and be willing to help as much as they can.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 10:55AM
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Before you buy from any furniture company, either online or brick and mortar first do a thorough search for reviews from previous customers. Just Google the name of the furniture company followed by "reviews and complaints." Don't be put off by a couple of negative comments but a majority of serious complaints should serve as a warning.

There is always a good chance that you will run into a problem after purchasing furniture, no matter how much you spend. Be particularly aware of comments about how responsive the company is when those problems occur.

After living through several small children and puppies my inclination is to go for something inexpensive and disposable until they grow up a bit.

IKEA type furniture should be fine for 2-3 years. Another less well-known online company with a good selection of low-cost sectionals is Home Reserve.

If you go the low-cost route you will definitely want a microfiber fabric. Most of these are extremely durable and stain-resistant. If you decide to go with a more expensive sectional take a look at the performance fabrics such as Crypton and Sunbrella.

Don't rely on spray-on fabric protection to keep your furniture clean. It will not make your furniture stain-proof and will wear off after a few months.

You should probably avoid leather unless you do some very careful and thorough research. Good quality sectionals with good quality top grain leathers are very expensive. If the price of your leather sectional seems to be a bargain it is probably "bonded" leather or a low quality top grain leather over a cheap frame.

At this stage of your life you should not be looking for an heirloom piece. If you do want something with mid-level quality there are a number of options.

Although I do like Smith Brothers there are several other mid-range companies with lower pricing. It is safest to stick with well-known American brands such as Bassett, Broyhill, Klaussner, Flexsteel and others although you should always check to confirm that the particular item you are looking at is American made. There is a definite quality drop-off on imported upholstered furniture, no matter what the brand.

Another lesser known mid-level American brand you might consider is Simplicity Sofas. Although this may be a bit higher priced than many of the other mid-level companies it does have a couple of special advantages for someone with your requirements. First, you can get optional slipcovers that can be washed and are easily replaced if they become irreparably stained or ripped. The other advantage is that the company uses a modular construction that allows it to replace individual frame components that become damaged. A chewed up arm, back, base or leg can be easily (and inexpensively) replaced.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 5:07PM
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