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Bassett & Ethan Allen Sofas? Which Brand Is Better Quality?

By Jeff Frank


I am trying to decide between a Bassett sofa and Ethan Allen. The prices are the same. Which is better quality? 

Sheila.Jan. 16, 2021


Ethan Allen is better built (and should be more expensive) than Bassett’s regular (mass produced) line.

Ethan Allen will have many custom options and a better fabric selection.

Both Ethan Allen and Bassett are hard to pin down on seat cushion options.

If one of them has a Spring Down option and the other does not, I would go with the Spring Down cushions.

Bassett’s mass produced construction may be inferior, but it should still hold up for at least 10 years – except for the cushions.

If you are stuck with 1.8 density foam seat cushions, choose a style with larger cushions.

Assuming equal cushion thickness, larger cushions (with more surface area) last longer than cushions with a smaller surface area.

Basset’s BenchMade custom line is superior in quality and comfort to Ethan Allen.

Bassett’s BenchMade prices may be similar to Ethan Allen or even be a bit higher, depending on fabric and options selected.

If you buy a Bassett BenchMade sofa, make sure you get the upgraded spring down cushion. It should last more than twice as long as the standard 1.8 density foam cushion.

Bassett’s standard cushion has a 5 1/2″ thick 1.8 density foam core with a polyester fiber wrapping.

It has an average lifespan of 5 – 7 years for most people, getting softer and softer as it loses its resilience (and comfort) over that time period.

Bassett’s Blend down cushion option takes that same foam density and shrinks it down to 4″ thick.

It then adds a layer of mixed feathers and fiber to fill in the space of the missing foam.

Feathers and fiber have a nice soft feel (when new) but you now have a thinner foam core that is going to lose its resilience and comfort more quickly than the standard cushion.

Bassett’s Reaxion cushion would be intriguing if it was a real memory foam, but it would also be a lot more expensive.

Because Bassett doesn’t actually say what its special “reaxion foam” is made from (other than it is not memory foam), it is impossible to draw any conclusions about this cushion.

Bassett’s spring down cushion option is my definite choice.

It is softer than the standard cushion (when new) but will maintain its “moderate firmness” over time without losing any resilience or comfort.

The spring down construction should last more than twice as long as 1.8 density foam for most people.

If you have done your due diligence and checked out reviews and complaints about Bassett, you will come across these review sites:

Consumer Affairs

Complaints board (This review site has only negative reviews.)

PissedConsumer.com (This site has mostly negative reviews for every company it lists.

If you are interested in Bassett’s BenchMade Collection, you can disregard these negative reviews!

Almost all of these reviews will refer to Bassett’s mass produced line.

Ethan Allen is at the lower end of high quality furniture.

It is genuine custom made furniture, built by highly skilled individual craftspeople.

I rank them at the lower end of high quality for several reasons:

Frames are engineered hardwoods.

Until about 15 years ago, no high end upholstery manufacturer would use anything other than solid hardwood (usually maple) for their frames.

Many high end upholstery brands now use engineered wood or plywood frames.

Well built plywood wood frames can last 20+ years.

The old 5/4″ solid maple frames were built to last 50+ years.

Foundations are either coil spring or sinuous wire.

Until the past 20 years, 8 way hand tied coils were required for most high end upholstery.

Styles that did not have room for 8 way hand tied used Pirelli webbing.

The drop-in coil springs used by Ethan Allen are just as comfortable as 8 way hand tied and should last even longer.

Many of Ethan Allen’s styles are built with sinuous wire coils.

These are cheaper and less comfortable than the drop-in coil springs.

Drop in coil springs are considerably cheaper than 8 way hand-tied, but can be even more durable and almost as comfortable.

8 way hand-tied springs require many hours of highly skilled labor.

Far less labor (and skill) is required to install a drop-in coil spring unit.

Upholsterers who can do 8 way hand-tied springs are among the highest paid furniture craftspeople.

Sinuous wire spring foundations are very cheap and can be found in $399 sofas (and also in $3000+ sofas.)

They are very sturdy and should last 20+ years, but are far less comfortable than 8-way hand tied or drop-in coil springs.

Ethan Allen does not give specifications on their cushions, other than that they are environmentally friendly. 

Usually, “environmentally friendly” cushions indicate the use of a 1.8 density soy-based foam.

I don’t think they have an optional Spring down cushion upgrade.

That is unusual for a high end upholstery manufacturer.

Bassett’s BenchMade collection has a frame that is similar to Ethan Allen.

Bassett’s BenchMade uses a drop-in coil spring foundation, similar to Ethan Allen’s higher priced sofas.

Craftsmanship quality is similar for both brands.

EA will have a larger selection of higher priced fabrics and leathers.

Bassett’s custom BenchMade line is built for them by a North Carolina subcontractor.

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