How to determine what makes good furniture can be complicated, and lets be honest- it can be a costly mistake if you buy the wrong kind of wood or material. Here is a guide to help you with selecting the proper type of wood furniture for your home.
A little background: Wood furniture falls into three categories: solid wood, veneers, and particle board or composite wood.
Solid wood furniture is typically more expensive than other types and looks great, but can be susceptible to scratches and water rings. Veneers have an inexpensive wood base covered by several thin layers of better-quality wood. Because of the cheaper core, veneers aren’t as expensive as solid wood pieces. Particle board and composite wood pieces are made from a combination of wood pulp, plastics, and resin, basically the scraps of the furniture world. These are the cheapest type of wood furniture and can look decent, but won’t hold up for decades.
Open the drawers and cabinets. Make sure the drawer pulls all the way out, latches properly, and then shuts evenly. Make sure doors open, remain in an open position (instead of snapping closed while you’re trying to get something out of the cabinet), and shut again. Check the handles and knobs. They should fit tightly and not jiggle or turn.
Look for wood joined at ends and corners, not glued or nailed in. Known in the manufacturing world as wood joinery, these pieces are studier and can take more weight. Check out Basic Woodworking Joints from Wood Magazine to see examples.
The legs should be heavy, wood, and jointed to the frame of the sofa or chair, not nailed. Plastic, rubber, or metal legs don’t look as nice, can tear up your floors, and won’t hold up as well. Same goes for nailed-in wood legs. If you’re spending more than $1,000 on a sofa, look for one with a fifth leg in the middle. They provide extra support – you won’t find them on many cheaper sofas.
Quality furniture can often take more than 8 weeks because quality furniture takes time to make. And most furniture that takes 8 weeks or more is made to order, creating a much smaller carbon foot print on the planet. Where as cheaper furniture is ready made and can usually be delivered with a week, and is often shipped from warehouse that is storing these items, sometimes for long periods of time. Who knows what could have happened to that furniture between the time it was made and the time it is delivered.