If you’re looking to start flipping furniture for some extra cash or just in the market for new furniture for your home, make sure you know how to spot high-quality pieces that will last. There is nothing inherently wrong with less expensive furniture – it’s budget friendly, readily available at most stores like Target or Ikea, and can be quite stylish and trendy, but we want you to be informed so that you know what to look for and what you are getting for the price. Higher quality furniture doesn’t have to break the bank though; antique stores or flea markets are a great way to find a quality piece at a bargain price.
Whether buying from a flea market, a big furniture box store or a local custom furniture maker, we encourage you to ask questions, open drawers, inspect table legs, look underneath, read the manufacturer tag and generally poke about to examine the quality of the furniture.
Perhaps the easiest items to inspect for quality are wood pieces. It’s easy to see and feel the quality drawers, adjustable shelves, table leaves, legs, and doors, but you should also inspect the corners for craftsmanship quality. The best corner construction is either dovetailed or mortise and tenon, though doweled or screwed corners are just fine. Poor quality joints are nailed or stapled with haphazardly applied glued. If buying new, the manufacturers tag should detail the construction of the piece. Corners should also have a reinforcing block attached at an angle, though that can easily be added if you are upcycling the piece.
Drawers should pull in and out smoothly with no tugging or friction and have stops to prevent them from being pulled out all the way. A classic and high-quality method of joinery for drawers is dovetail. The drawer interior should be sanded smooth and the hardware should be firmly attached, without any wiggle or give. Dressers will typically have a dust catcher beneath each drawer and a panel on the back of the piece as well that may be several different materials, such as thin plywood or particle board.
The finish, unless intentionally distressed or aged, should have a smooth and uniform finish. Veneered pieces have a limit to how many times they can be refinished and should be applied on top of solid wood or plywood that has at least 8 layers to it. Blemishes in the furniture surface, such as scratches, dents, chips or raw edges on a new piece are an indication of poor quality, but if buying an antique most of these superficial defects can be mended.
Upholstered furniture is a bit harder to determine the quality of as the frame is hidden beneath the fabric. Again, if buying a piece new, the manufacturer tag or salesperson should be able to detail the construction and cushion fill materials for you. If the piece you are considering has removable cushions, look inside at the cushion itself. Our cushions are custom made using high quality materials and expert craftsmanship. We choose CertiPUR-US Foam with a dacron wrap for long lasting durability and comfort. You may choose to upgrade your furniture to include 4-way or 8-way Hand Tied Springs to improve your cushion support or upgrading to a shredded dacron (a synthetic blend with a down-like feel) or add a down blend option to add softness to seats and backs. Our down blend is a 25/75 mix of down feathers. Cushions made only of foam are less durable and less comfortable, but you should always sit on the chair or sofa to ensure it meets your expectations of comfort.
The upholstery work should also be clean, tight and well tailored to the piece. Seems should be even, pleats should be uniform, edges should be crisp and fabric should be taught with no welts. If applicable, patterns should align and be straight in their application. If there’s a tag or label, look for a cleaning code: ‘WS’ means mild detergents with a steam vacuum or a dry cleaning detergent, ‘S’ means a dry cleaning detergent, ‘W’ means to clean with water only and ‘X’ means no liquid, vacuum only.
If purchasing new or custom, the price can be a bit alarming at first, but the cost is reflective of the quality of material, surfaces, finishes, details and craftsmanship that go into a high-quality piece of furniture, as well as the longevity of the piece. There are several schools of thought on this as well: some interior designers will suggest buying high-quality, classic furniture and budget friendly decor that can be easily switched throughout the years, those that think you should have a mix of high and low to create an interesting contrast, and others who believe you should buy what you love, regardless of the price or quality. Whatever you choose to buy, we hope this information gives you the knowledge you need to be confident in all your future furniture purchases!