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
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.
[Update – Since this article was originally written two years ago, Flexsteel closed some of its U.S. manufacturing facilities. I don’t believe Flexsteel currently makes any reclining furniture in the U.S.]
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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