Smith Brothers vs. Flexsteel – Is it Worth the Extra Money?

by | Jun 25, 2021 | Ask the Expert | 10 comments

Question:

 

I am looking at Flexsteel’s Arlo reclining couch and loveseat. Thinking of going with a Smith Brothers 422 with cloth covering. It is more expensive, but is it worth the extra money? 

Pete

August 4, 2020

Answer:

Flexsteel makes furniture in the U.S., China (although this may be moving to Vietnam) and Mexico.

The quality varies.

In general the U.S. made reclining furniture is superior to the Asian (Latitude) products.

The Latitude furniture is better than their Mexican made (SouthHaven) products.   I am not sure where the Arlo series is made.

The single biggest problem with Flexsteel (and the vast majority of their competitors) is the use of non-removable cushions made with 1.8 density foam or composite foams that combine high and low-density foams.  

1.8 density cushions (which Flexsteel used through 2021) begin losing resilience (and comfort) after about 3 years.

Over time, the furniture can get increasingly less comfortable.

There is no way to replace non-removable cushions other than completely reupholstering the entire piece.

[Note – Flexsteel’s cushion options have changed since this answer was originally written in 2020. Here is updated information for Flexsteel cushions as of 2021.]

Flexsteel recently switched from 1.8 and 2.0 density foam cushions to a new composite construction.

Their new standard non-removable seat cushions have a 2.0 density foam core, topped by a layer of cheaper 1.2 density foam.

Removable seat cushions have 1.2 density “recovery” foam layers above and below the central high-density core.

1.2 density foam is extremely flimsy (and cheap.)

 

Flexsteel also offers an optional upgrade to a 2.5-density central foam core with a1.2 density “recovery” foam above the higher density central core.

No sofa manufacturer would ever consider using a cushion made entirely with 1.2 density foam.

It would lose its shape, resilience, and comfort within 6 months (or less.)

 

Flexsteel also has a softer “Featherblend” cushion option. It has a 2.3 density core with jackets filled with 50% feathers/50% polyester.

This is the cushion I would recommend if you choose to go with Flexsteel.

Flexsteel does have a far more extensive line of reclining designs and options than Smith Brothers.

Smith Brothers is better quality overall than Flexsteel in almost every way.

Smith Brothers’ solid maple double dowelled frames are far superior to Flexsteel’s glued and stapled plywood frames.

Smith Brothers coil spring foundation is equivalent in durability and superior in comfort to Flexsteel’s dual flex foundation.

Both foundations should last 20+ years.

Smith Brothers cushions are made with 2.5 density Qualux foam.

This is considered the highest quality foam brand for cushions.

These seat cushions should hold up over 10 years for most people, and are removable.

When they do wear out, the cushion cores can be replaced for a few hundred dollars.

Most Smith Brothers reclining furniture has removable seat cushions.

Removable seat cushions can double or triple the lifespan of the furniture compared with non-removable seat cushions.

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Jeff Frank

Jeff Frank

Furniture Consultant

Jeff Frank is a 45 year  furniture industry veteran. He created this blog to provide detailed facts, inside information & advice for furniture shoppers. 

 

 

 

 Shopping for furniture can be complex and frustrating. Salespeople have limited knowledge & experience about the products they sell. If you’re looking for real answers before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, check out our furniture buyer consulting.

10 Comments

  1. Sheryl Senne

    Is Flexsteel reclining sofas and chairs made In the USA we are considering ordering an Arlo reliving sofa and loveseat

    Reply
    • Jeff Frank

      Flexsteel reclining furniture is no longer made in the U.S. It is currently produced in China and Mexico. (Due to tariff, trade restrictions, many Chinese furniture manufacturers have been moving their factories to Vietnam and other Asian nations.
      Check out my blog article, Who are the best American reclining furniture manufacturers? for a review of 18 brands Made in the USA.

  2. Mary

    Wow very interesting….you never know if you are getting made in USA or not in this instance…my son just ordered flexsteel,Jarvis..mod you know if it is made in USA?

    Reply
    • Jeff Frank

      I believe that all Flexsteel reclining furniture is currently made in China & Mexico.
      Many Chinese furniture factories have moved to Vietnam recently. I am not certain whether Flexsteel has made this move.)
      More and more of their reclining furniture production has moved to Mexico over the past two years.

  3. Jules

    what does flex steel arlo compare to another brand?

    what other brand do you suggest?

    Reply
    • Jeff Frank

      Check out my article Who are the Best American Reclining Sofa & Sectional Manufacturers

      The article reviews 18 different reclining American reclining furniture companies. Although Flexsteel now makes all of its reclining furniture in China and Mexico, they are included on this list since everybody thinks their furniture is made in the USA.

      In the article, I currently have Flexsteel listed as 13 of 18. It is actually comparable in quality and price to any of the brands listed from 10 – 18.

      The first 9 brands listed are superior quality (and higher priced.) Many of these brands are leather specialists, but all will offer a selection of high-performance fabrics in addition to the leather.

  4. Marymmarzano

    I was not informed my sectional sofa had attached cushions when I ordered . What a disappointment!

    Reply
    • Jeff Frank

      Most mass produced reclining sofas and sectionals of all brands are currently designed with attached cushions.
      Better quality (more expensive) reclining furniture is usually made with removable cushions but costs several hundred (or thousand) dollars more.

  5. Rodney Kisor

    Flexsteel cushions are 2.5lb Density and have a Lifetime Warranty. The information given by Jeff Frank is incorrect.

    Reply
    • Jeff Frank

      Thank you for your comment.

      The article was originally written in 2020 when Flexsteel was still using 1.8 density foam cushions for their seating.

      More recently, Flexsteel has introduced a new composite seat cushion construction. There are two different options:

      1) Option one has a 2.0 density central foam core surrounded by 1.2 density foam layers.

      2) Option two has a 2.5 density central foam core, surrounded by 1.2 density foam layers.

      These new composite cushions have not been around long enough to have established a long term track record for durability.

      I am doubtful that they will last any longer than the old 1.8 density foam cushions.

      The problem is that the 1.2 density foam is not durable.

      If a cushion was made using only 1.2 density foam, it would lose its shape, resiliency and comfort within less than 6 months.

      The lifetime warranty does not protect you against cushion failure.

      If you read further down the warranty document, there is a paragraph that reads,

      Slight softening and flattening of seat cushion foam and fibers as a result of normal use and aging Under normal use and conditions, cushions may lose up to one inch of the original height standard of the cushion foam core within the first year of use.

      The sign that a cushion is breaking down and will soon lose its resiliency and comfort is when the cushion begins to soften and flatten out.

      If your Flexsteel cushions lose more than 1″ of height after the first year, that is considered “normal wear and tear” and will not be covered by your lifetime warranty.

      A true 2.5 density foam cushion will show almost no flattening or softening for at least 10 years.

      If you read through Flexsteel’s recent reviews, you will see complaints about seat cushions that have softened and flattened within the first year.

      Flexsteel reviews – PissedConsumer.com

      Unfortunately, none of these reviews list whether the customer purchased the 2.0 density central core option or the 2.5.

      Flexsteel’s new composite seat cushions are a triumph of marketing. By using a combination of high density and low density foams, they can actually lower their manufacturing costs compared with solid 1.8 density foam cores.

      At the same time, Flexsteel salespeople can tell their customers they are buying 2.5 density cushions, a statement that is not completely untrue, but is completely misleading.

      I will update the information in my article to reflect Flexsteel’s new cushion construction.

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