I am considering Craftmaster and Flexsteel sofas. The price is close on both. Which will hold up better under normal use?
Jan. 8, 2021
Flexsteel and Craftmaster are both large mid-range upholstered furniture producers.
- Flexsteel has extensive lines of both stationary and reclining seating.
- Craftmaster specializes in stationary seating only.
Flexsteel has an unusually high number of negative customer reviews.
The great majority of these complaints concern reclining products, especially their Asian made Latitudes collection and most especially those made with bonded leather.
- Flexsteel’s U.S. made products are as good or better than most other companies in their price range. The Chinese made Latitudes line and Mexican made SouthHaven models are lower quality.
- Even the U.S. made products will not last as long as Flexsteel furniture made 15 years ago. (There has been a general deterioration in the quality level of most U.S. made mid-priced upholstered furniture over the past 15 years.)
The most common problems that show up in the Flexsteel reviews are:
1) Bonded leather fabric – This has been the largest single reason for furniture complaints across the entire industry over the past decade. Flexsteel’s Nuvo leather is a bonded leather.
The good news is that furniture companies are finally beginning to move away from bonded leathers to new composite polyester/polyurethane faux leathers.
Although it is too soon to know the long term durability of these new composite faux leathers, there is every reason to hope they will be better than the bonded leathers.
2) Motion (reclining) furniture – The combination of increased weight, flimsier frames and increased wear from movement makes this category far more susceptible to damage and problems than stationary sofas.
Within the Motion category, single seat recliners have a far lower percentage of problems than reclining sofas or sectionals. In addition they are easier and less expensive to fix if something does go wrong.
3) Get the best possible cushion. Flexsteel has moved away from the industry standard 1.8 density foam cushions and now offers composite cushions with two different foam densities.
- The standard LC “Reversible Luxury” cushion has a central core of 2.0 foam with layers of soft 1.2 density foam above and below.
- The FC “Featherblend” cushion has a central core of 2.3 foam with 50% polyester/50% feathers and down jackets above and below the foam core.
- The PC “Plush” cushion has a central core of 2.5 foam with layers of soft 1.2 foam above and below the central foam core.
- The HR “High Resiliency – Extra Firm” cushion also has a central core of 2.5 foam with layers of soft 1.2 foam above and below the central foam core.
- The difference between the PC and HR cushions is the ILD “firmness” rating.
- The PC uses a lower ILD foam for a softer feel.
- The HR uses a higher ILD for a firmer feel.
- The firmer HR foam will not last any longer than the softer PC foam. (From a cost perspective, changing a foam’s ILD does not affect the cost of the foam.)
- The PC and HR cushions should last longer than the LC and FC cushions.
- Because these composite cushions are recent introductions there is no track record on how long these cushions will last.
- Composite foam cushions give Flexsteel a significant marketing advantage. Their salespeople can truthfully say that the optional upgrade cushions are 2.5 density foam.
- It is difficult to predict how long Flexsteel’s new composite cushions will hold up.
- Flexsteel gives no information about how thick the different foam layers are.
- More than 1” thickness of each layer of 1.2 density foam (and less 2.5 density foam) could significantly reduce the expected lifespan of the cushion.
- Flexsteel’s LC cushion with a 2.0 density core surrounded by 1.2 density foam may have a shorter lifespan than industry standard 1.8 density foam cushions.
- Flexsteel’s composite cushion construction has not been around very long. I have serious concerns about its long term durability.
- Better cushions that last longer are well worth the additional cost.
Important Note: Flexsteel offers a limited lifetime warranty on all of its cushions. But if you read the warranty carefully you will find that there are exceptions and exclusions that make the lifetime guarantee meaningless.
- The warranty does not cover any loss of resilience (the ability to bounce back) or flattening of the cushions. Those are considered “normal use.” They are also the primary indications that a cushion is wearing out and needs to be replaced.
- This type of deceptive warranty language is standard in the furniture industry and will be found in all cushion warranties, including extended warranties.
- For a more detailed explanation of deceptive warranty language, check out my blog article Furniture Warranties – Tricks, Traps and Warnings
Craftmaster is slightly above average in quality for U.S. made mid-priced sofas.
The diagram below comes from the Craftmaster website. I have made some observations in RED.
- – Hardwood Frame Consisting Of Hardwood Rails And Hardwood Laminates. This is standard for mid-priced furniture and should last 10 – 20 years.
- – Heavily Padded Arms. Standard
- – Tie Wires On Back & Seat Springs For Additional Support. Standard. Cheap way to do it, but should last 20 years or more.
- – Heavy Gauge Sinuous Wire Springs For Durability And Comfort. Cheapest type of foundation support but should last 20 years or more.
- – Heavily Padded In-Back. Standard
- – 100% Dacron Polyester Fiber Back Cushion Encased In A Sewn Ticking With Separate Compartments To Prevent Fiber Fall Down. Above average
- – 2.0 Density High Resiliency Foam Core With Dacron Fiber Wrapping. Above average. 2.0 density cushions should last about 1 year longer than standard 1.8 density foam cushions.
- – Fully Lined Tailored Skirts. This is the correct way to make a skirt. Not everybody does.
- – Padded Edge Roll. Above average.
- – Insulated Seat Pad For Added Comfort. Standard
- – Joints Are Mortise And Tenon Or Double Dowelled, Glued, & Corner Blocked For Durability. Good (but not great) joint construction techniques
- – Wood Legs On Skirted Frames Are Built Into The Frame For Strength & Durability. Exposed Wood, Decorative Legs Are Securely Mounted To The Base Of The Frame. Built-in legs are stronger than screw-in legs, but make it harder to fit a sofa through a doorway. If your sofa does not have a skirt, you probably will not have built-in legs.
Cushion breakdown is the most common complaint for modern upholstered furniture. Craftmaster’s 2.0 density foam cushions should last 4 – 6 years for average size people with average use. Unusually large individuals can wear out cushions much sooner.
It is important to get sofas with removable cushions so that the cores can be replaced when they wear out. Any local upholsterer should be able to replace the foam in a sofa’s cushions. Make sure you get a better quality (higher density) foam when this is done. 2.2 density foams should last 6 – 8 years. 2.5 density foams can last 10 years or more.
- Sofas with non-removable cushions (including most reclining furniture) will break down within a similar time period, but the cost of replacing the foam is prohibitive and most people just replace the entire piece of furniture.
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