The best quality American furniture manufacturers still hand-craft their custom built upholstered furniture.
Top American furniture manufacturers, specializing in sectional sofas, sleepers, couches, chairs & other upholstered pieces, still rely on highly skilled craftspeople working with high-quality materials.
Upholstered seating made by the best American furniture manufacturers is designed & hand-crafted to last a lifetime.
Individual components may wear out or become damaged.
In contrast, most mass-produced seating is simply replaced when the cushions wear out, the frame cracks or a seam splits and repairs are not covered under warranty.
Over the past couple of decades, there has been a shift in the way high-end furniture is made and sold in the U.S.
Many high-quality upholstery manufacturers, and retailers specializing in higher-priced furniture, have closed down over the past 20 years.
Most of the high-priced residential furniture purchased in the U.S. is currently sold through thousands of professional interior decorators.
These interior decorators search out local upholstery shops to service their affluent clients.
The photo shown above is a sofa & loveseat from Sherrill Furniture
The Recession that began in 2007 was particularly devastating to high-end furniture manufacturers and retailers.
Highly skilled craftspeople, whose factory jobs disappeared, now operate their own small shops, producing custom pieces at the highest quality levels.
Top-quality furniture is actually more affordable now in many cases.
Individual artisans and furniture makers can sometimes be surprisingly affordable.
Many of these individual custom upholsterers used to work for better quality manufacturers that shut down.
Costs are minimal for starting up a small upholstery shop.
12 of the “best quality” American furniture manufacturers remaining in the U.S. include:
Many of these companies are leather specialists.
They have maintained extremely high-quality standards for generations.
But standards are slipping for some of these brands.
American furniture manufacturers have been lowering costs in some areas that minimally affect quality and product lifespan.
Some of the companies listed above have switched from solid wood to plywood frames.
Top-quality 7/8″ plywood frames can still hold up for 25 – 30 years.
The 5/4″ solid hardwood frames, that are being replaced, were good for 50 years or more.
8-way hand-tied coil foundations used to be a standard feature of high-end traditional style upholstery.
This 150-year-old construction method is slowly becoming extinct for several reasons:
8 way hand tied foundations require extreme skill, extreme hand strength, and a lot of time.
Older experienced craftspeople who were trained in this art are dying off and retiring.
New upholsterers are reluctant to learn this craft.
It is a difficult, time-consuming, and boring job.
It often causes serious hand problems, such as Carpal Tunnel or arthritis.
Newer technology has developed drop-in coil spring foundations that are just as comfortable, and far easier to install at a much lower cost.
Mid-priced mass-produced furniture has noticeably declined in quality over the past 15 years.
Over 90% of wood furniture sold in the U.S. now is built overseas.
60% of upholstered furniture is still made in the U.S.
Despite significant increases in raw material and labor costs over the past 40 years, furniture retail prices have remained steady. This is due primarily to new technology, simpler designs and more efficient production.
15 years ago, a furniture industry study indicated that consumers expected their new sofas to last 8 – 10 years.
A more recent study reported that consumers now expect their new sofas to last only 3 – 5 years.
That is a pretty accurate estimate of how long a modern mid-priced sofa can be expected to last before needing to be reupholstered or repaired.
This decline in quality can be directly linked to the appearance of huge mega-retailers and the disappearance of thousands of small local and mid-size regional furniture retailers.
40 years ago the 50 largest furniture retailers combined accounted for less than 5% of U.S. furniture sales. Only a handful had annual sales exceeding $100 million.
Today, U.S. furniture sales are controlled by a small number of huge mega-retailers.
The 50 largest retail chains now control over 50% of all U.S. furniture sales. All have sales exceeding $500 million.
Although this trend started at least 40 years ago, it accelerated tremendously during the past Recession.
The furniture industry was one of the hardest hit sectors of the U.S. economy.
During a four year period (2007 – 2010) 40% of all U.S. furniture retailers closed their doors.
This shift from small to large retailers has resulted in a serious deterioration to furniture quality among the major low and mid-priced furniture manufacturers.
The small number of mega-retailers who control the bulk of furniture sales in the U.S. encourage cutthroat competition among the major manufacturers who are large enough to supply their needs.
Price is by far the most important factor for the corporate buyers of these mega-retailers. These buyers basically set the prices they are willing to pay.
To reach the prices demanded, large furniture manufacturers have had to cut costs (and quality) in every way possible that is not directly visible to the customer.
Many customers have noted the increasingly generic look of furniture in the different chain stores, regardless of the brand name.
Furniture designs are now dictated by technology. Styles that are simple and inexpensive to manufacture are crowding out those which require more time and skill to produce.
The resulting decline in expected lifespan of the furniture is actually an added benefit for these mega-retailers.
Furniture that wears out in 5 years or less generates higher overall sales than similar products that last for 10 or more years.
It is not as much of a benefit for the low and mid-priced manufacturers who are working on very thin profit margins for each product that they sell.
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