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Sofa Durability vs. Cost: How to Buy a Long-Lasting Affordable Couch

By Jeff Frank

Question:

How long will my new couch last?

Answer:

A well-known axiom states, “You get what you pay for.”

That axiom can be dangerously misleading when shopping for upholstered furniture.

It is very possible to pay thousands of dollars for sofas that will need to be replaced within 5 years (or less.)

High-quality, custom-built sofas should keep their looks & comfort for 20 years or more.

High quality, non-reclining couches typically cost at least $3000 ($5000+ for leather.) They can cost far more.

Unfortunately, many sofas selling for more than $3000 (or even $4000) can wear out or become uncomfortable as soon as 3 years after purchase.

Reclining couches and sectionals are especially notorious for combining high prices with short lifespans.

They will be discussed separately in this article.

Mass produced sofa frames & foundations can last 10+ years.

Many fabrics can also hold up for 10 years or more.

The weak point for mass produced mid-range quality couches is the cushions.

In most cases, seat cushion cores will need replacement every 3 – 5 years to maintain the cushions’ shape and comfort.

Back cushion filling may need to be replaced even more often to maintain their shape.

Very few people replace their cushion cores.

As a result, many homeowners live with couches that look and feel worn out within only 5 years (or less.)

Cushion core lifespans can be shorter than 5 years when used by larger than average individuals.

A 250 lb. person can wear out a standard 1.8 density foam cushion core in 1 – 3 years.

2.5 density cushion cores can support 250 lb. individuals far longer, but few people are aware of this when they consider purchasing replacement cushion cores.

Large cushions last longer than small cushions.

Larger seat cushions spread your weight over a greater surface area.

As a result, there is less pressure per square inch and less wear on the foam cores.

5 Simple Rules for Buying Long-Lasting Sofas at Affordable Prices

After these 5 Simple Rules, I have added a “not so simple” detailed explanation for each rule.

1) Most Frames Will Last at Least 10 Years.

Solid wood, plywood, and engineered wood frames usually last 10+ years (assuming average use by average size people.)

2) Most Sofa Foundations Will Last at Least 10 Years.

Low cost sinuous wire foundations usually last at least 10 years.

High quality Pirelli webbing, drop-in coil spring foundations and 8-way hand-tied foundations should all last 20+ years.

Low quality, stretchable webbing often fails within 5 years. (This exception is detailed below.)

3) Cushions Determine How Long Your Sofa Will Last.

Most seat cushions have an estimated lifespan of 5 years or fewer before losing resilience and comfort.

Standard 1.8 density foam cushions may feel noticeably less firm and less comfortable within one year of purchase.

Optional cushion upgrades can extend your cushions’ lifespan to 10 – 15+ years, with a minimal loss of firmness or comfort.

Reclining sofa seat cushions in this price range wear out more quickly than stationary (non-reclining) sofa cushions.

Non-removable seat cushions can lose their comfort and resiliency (ability to bounce back) within 3 – 5 years.

Replacing non-removable seat cushions is rarely cost-effective.

4) Expensive Fabrics & Leathers May Not Increase Your Sofa’s Life Span

Fabric price has almost no relationship to its durability or cleanability.

Fabrics can be very cheap, extremely durable, and highly stain resistant.

High priced fabrics can be delicate with no stain resistance.

You can minimize your sofa’s cost without decreasing its lifespan by choosing a microfiber, faux leather or other low cost, durable fabric.

Expensive leathers can last 20+ years, but that will not increase a “good quality” sofa’s lifespan, when combined with poor quality cushions or frames.

WARNING! DO NOT BUY BONDED LEATHER!!!

Bonded leathers often disintegrate (peel) within 1 – 3 years and are not covered by your warranty.

Check out my article, Why is Bonded Leather Still Being Sold?

Note: Beginning around 2020, several of the larger retailers began phasing out bonded leathers.

The new composite faux leathers, made with polyester and polyurethan,e are less expensive and indistinguishable from bonded leathers in looks and feel.

When bonded leather was first introduced in 2010, there was tremendous resistance against seating made with 100% synthetic faux leathers.

That resistance to 100% synthetic faux leathers had disappeared by 2020.

5) Reclining Sofas Cost More & Have Shorter Lifespans

Reclining sofa cushions wear out faster than cushions on stationary (non-reclining) sofas.

Reclining sofas usually get more use than stationary sofas.

A reclining seat’s motion creates friction, which increases wear on the cushion.

Mass produced reclining furniture is usually made with tight seats that are not removable.

Non-removable seat cushions do not last any longer than removable cushions.

Worn out non-removable (“tight”) seat cushions are prohibitively expensive to replace or repair.

Mechanical components are delicate and easily damaged during shipping or when moved in the home.

Damaged or worn-out mechanical parts are not always readily available or easily replaced.

Power reclining mechanisms have more problems than manual systems.

Replacement parts are not always available.

Detailed Analysis & Explanations for the 5 Simple Rules.

1) How does frame construction affect a sofa’s lifespan?

If you have paid at least $1200, most frames will last for at least 10 years with average use by average size people.

Most frames made with solid wood, 3/4″ hardwood plywood or engineered wood panels will last 10+ years.

If you want 20+ years from your couch, upgrade the frame to a 7/8″ plywood or 4/4″ solid hardwood.

Upgrading your frame to a thicker-than-normal 7/8 inch plywood or a good quality solid hardwood frame can increase retail prices by at least $200.

The best solid hardwood frames, found on the most expensive traditional style sofas, are 5/4 inch thick, and made from solid maple, oak, or similar hardwood species.

5/4 inch thick solid hardwood frames can last 50+ years.

Watch out for expensive sofas with weak frames.

Cheap frames made with particle board & softwoods, combined with stretchable webbing, may fail prior to 10 years.

Weak frames may be found on both cheap and expensive sofas.

CAUTION! Some well known  leather sofa brands use weak, low quality frames to make their furniture more affordable. .

High-quality leathers, combined with inferior frames & foundations, can result in beautiful leather sofas, priced over $2000, that can collapse in less than 10 years.

Check out the video below to see a Natuzzi leather sofa with an inferior frame and foundation:

2) How does foundation construction affect a sofa’s lifespan?

Most sofa foundations found on sofas priced above $1200 will hold up for at least 10 years.

Platform foundations and inexpensive sinuous wire (no-sag) spring foundations should last at least 10 years.

High quality Pirelli webbing, drop-in coil spring foundations and 8-way hand-tied foundations should all last 20+ years.

A few types of foundations, sometimes found on sofas selling for less than $1000, may fail after only a few years.

Cheap flexolator foundations have loose helical springs that can easily fall off if someone sits down heavily or jumps on the sofa.

Flexolators are only slightly cheaper than sinuous wire.

They are used on very cheap sofas or where the style requires a flat foundation (rather than the arch that occurs with sinuous wire.)

Stretchable webbing looks similar to high quality Pirelli (non-stretchable) webbing, but is far cheaper and far less durable.

Foundations made with stretchable webbing require far less time to make and can be installed by lower-paid workers who need less strength and skill.

Stretchable webbing is often found in combination with low-cost particleboard or softwood frames.

Particleboard and softwood do not hold staples well.

The staples that attach the stretchable webbing can pull out of the frame, creating a “sagging” seat.

Stretchable webbing foundations, combined with particleboard or softwood frames, are sometimes found in expensive leather seating made by well-known brands.

See the video in the section above to see what happens when good quality leather is mixed with a cheap frame and a stretchable webbing foundation.

3) How do cushions determine a sofa’s lifespan?

Seat cushions are the most important single component of your “good-quality” sofa.

In most sofas, at all price ranges, the cushions will need replacement before anything else.

Foam seat cushion lifespan is determined by several factors:

Foam density

Foam thickness

Foam surface area

Size of the individual sitting on the cushions.

Most seat cushions are made with polyurethane foam cores, wrapped in a dacron polyester fiber.

Density determines how long foam cushions will keep their shape & firmness.

Density is not the same as firmness.

Seat cushions lose firmness as they are used.

Higher density foam loses firmness more slowly than lower density foam.

Extra-firm foam does not last any longer than “soft” foam with the same density.

Firmness changes over time as the cushions are used.

1.8 density foam cushions may be noticeably less firm within 1 year.

2.5 density foam cushions may lose very little of their initial firmness after 10+ years.

Density does not change over time.

A 20-year-old 1.8 density foam cushion will still have the same density it did when new.

That same 1.8 density cushion will probably desperately need replacement, having lost most of its resiliency (ability to bounce back) and firmness after 20 years.

For an average size removable seat cushion on a 3 seat sofa:

1.8 density foam has an estimated lifespan of 3 – 5 years .

2.0 density foam has an estimated lifespan of 4 – 6 years.

2.5 density foam has an estimated lifespan of 10 – 15 years.

3.0 and denser foams are used primarily for high use commercial and institutional furniture.

The average foam seat cushion core height is 5 inches.

The height listed is for the foam core.

It does not include additional thickness added by polyester or other wrappings around the foam.

Finished cushions with 5″ foam cores are typically 8″ thick overall with 1.5″ of polyester fiber above and below the foam core.

Increasing the fiber thickness does not increase the cushion lifespan.

Increasing or reducing foam core thickness.

Adding 1/2 inch to the thickness adds about 20% to the cushion’s lifespan

Subtracting 1/2 inch decreases the cushion’s lifespan by about 20%.

Watch out for extra-thick cushions where the additional thickness results from additional polyester fiber being added.

Seat cushions typically use 1 – 1.5″ thick fiber sheets.

The same seat cushion with a 3″ thick polyester wrapping would look much thicker when brand new in the showroom.

But it would quickly lose its loft (and shape) since fiber has no resiliency at all.

Surface area affects a cushion’s lifespan.

Larger seat cushions last longer.

A typical cushion size for a three seat sofa might be 24″wide x 27″ deep (front to back) x 5″ thick.

The cushion surface measures 648 sq. inches.

If you replace the three seat cushions with two larger cushions, each larger cushion would measure 36″ x 27″.

The larger cushion surface area measures 972 sq. inches.

The larger cushion spreads your weight over 1/3 more area.

This puts less pressure on each square inch of foam, increasing the cushion lifespan.

Cushion lifespan is affected by your size & weight.

A 250 lb. individual sitting on a 1.8 density foam cushion might wear it out within 1 – 2 years.

Someone who weighs 150 lbs. may get 5 years use from the same cushion.

A 2.5 density foam cushion, used by the same 250 lb. individual, would hold up far better.

Expected cushion lifespan might be reduced from 10 to 15 years to 8 – 12 years.

Many shoppers think that extra firm cushions will last longer. They don’t!

1.8 density medium-firm foam will wear out at the same rate as equal size 1.8 density extra-firm foam.

High-quality* spring-down or spring-fiber cushions last even longer than 2.5 density foam.

A 250 lb. individual should be able to use a high-quality* spring-down cushion for 15+ years, with very little change in firmness or comfort.

*High quality Marshall coil spring units have fabric covered springs that are interconnected.

Some furniture brands may use cheaper spring units in their seating that do not have the fabric covering and are not inter-connected.

Cheaper seat spring units may not last as long or be as comfortable.

Sofa brands offering optional 2.5 (or higher) density or spring down cushions provide the best possible cushion value.

Sofas with 2.5 density foam or spring down cushion cores will last 2 – 3x longer compared with 1.8 density foam cushions.

If you cannot find those cushion options in your price range, choose a sofa with larger seat cushions.

A two cushion sofa will have a longer lifespan than the same size sofa with three cushions.

4) How Do Fabrics & Leather Affect a Sofa’s Lifespan?

The choice of fabric or leather can have a major effect on a sofa’s price, but rarely affects its lifespan.

A fabric’s cost has only a minimal relationship with its durability or cleanability.

Inexpensive fabrics can be more durable and stain resistant than fabrics that cost far more.

Residential furniture fabrics generally range in price from $2.50  – $25 per yard (from the mill to the manufacturer.)

Many other fabrics cost far more and some cost less.

It is very common to find $5 – 10/yd. fabrics on couches selling for $2000 or more.

An average size sofa uses around 16 yards of fabric.

At $2.50 – $25 per yard, the manufacturer’s cost of fabric for an average size sofa ranges from $40 – $400.

Translating a fabric’s mill cost to its retail value is very imprecise.

One example of this is a particular designer fabric I once purchased for my factory.

The fabric’s listed retail price (as sold in fabric stores) was $80 per yard.

The wholesale price for cut yardage (less than a full roll) to professional interior designers was $40 per yard.

The OEM price for manufacturers purchasing full 50 yd. rolls was $16 per yard.

Quantity pricing for multiple full rolls was $12 per yard.

Real leather can last 20 years or longer.

The long-term durability of leather is irrelevant to the lifespan of most popularly priced sofas.

Sofas selling for less than $2000 (and many with much higher prices), are made with components that will fail long before the leather gives out.

Cushion lifespan is often only 3 – 5 years (and sometimes even less.)

Frame and foundation estimated lifespan may be only 10 years or less.

Reclining and sleeper mechanical components often need replacement within 5 – 10 years.

Repairing or replacing frames, foundations or mechanisms for sofas purchased at $2000 or less, is rarely cost-effective.

Replacing removable cushions for sofas purchased for $1500 or less is also rarely cost-effective.

Few people are willing to pay the cost of replacing or repairing worn-out non-removable seat cushions.

Leather couches are not always made with “real leather.”

Salespeople can be very good at implying you are buying real leather furniture without actually saying it.

100% synthetic faux leathers are fabric made from polyurethane, vinyl or polyester.

Bonded leathers are 10% – 20% “real leather.”

That “real leather” is made from left-over hide scraps that have been crushed into tiny particles, mixed with adhesives, rolled flat and then used as the fabric backing.

The facing of bonded leather is 100% synthetic faux leather.

“Leather Match” combines “real” top-grain “corrected” leather combined with faux leather.

The real leather is used for the seats, backs and inside arms.

Vinyl or other faux leathers are used for the rest of the couch.

100% synthetic faux leathers, used for residential seating, generally cost $4 – $8 per yard (at mill cost) and have an estimated lifespan of 10+ years.

Bonded leathers cost approximately the same as 100% synthetic faux leathers, but has an estimated lifespan of 1 – 5 years.

Thousands of consumers have complained about bonded leather peeling within 1 – 5 years of purchase.

Peeling bonded leather cannot be repaired or replaced.

Leather match sofas are made from approximately 1/3 “real leather” and 2/3 faux leather.

Leather match uses low cost “corrected” top grain hides.

Retail prices for leather match are typically $200 – $300 more than the same sofa in synthetic faux leather or bonded leather.

The estimated lifespan is 10+ years, the same as for 100% synthetic faux leathers.

“All-leather” sofas made using low-cost “corrected hides add around $300 – $500 to the cost of “leather match.”

Better quality (more expensive) leathers can add hundreds (or thousands) of dollars more.

Better quality “natural” leathers improve with age if periodically cleaned and maintained.

Low cost “protected” leathers may last 20 years, but they do not improve as they age.

“Protected” leathers offer superior protection against minor scratches or stains, but are more difficult to repair for deep scratches or rips.

5) Do Reclining Sofas Last as Long as Non-reclining Couches?

Reclining sofas have substantially shorter lifespans than non-reclining sofas.

Reclining sofas cost substantially more than non-reclining sofas (with similar size and styling.)

The two previous statements are true for all sofa brands and price levels.

If a manufacturer makes a $2000 stationary sofa that has a 10 year average lifespan, reclining sofas made by the same brand can be expected to last about 5 years (or less.)

Replacing damaged or worn out components (other than removable cushions) is rarely cost-effective in this price range.

If a manufacturer makes a $5000 stationary sofa that lasts 20+ years, its reclining sofas can be expected to last about 10 years (or less.)

Repairing or replacing damaged or worn-out parts is often worthwhile for more expensive sofas and couches.

Manual reclining mechanisms usually outlast power mechanisms.

Check out my blog article, 18 Best Reclining Sectional and Sofa Brands Made in America

Analyzing Sofa Values from Another Perspective

What factors determine the price difference between two similar-looking sofas?

Imagine an untagged, brand new sofa with an unknown brand name and no printed product description.

Most people would be unable to tell whether an untagged sofa with no price or descriptive tag would be a good value at $1000 or $2000.

In higher price ranges, it can be just as difficult to tell the difference between a $5000 sofa and a $7,500 sofa.

This is not just a problem for inexperienced furniture shoppers.

Furniture salespeople who have sold furniture for many years can have just as much difficulty.

The two sofas shown below are an example of this.

The first sofa shown is the Ashley Roleson leather sofa. 

It is a mid-range quality couch with an expected lifespan of 5 – 10 years with average use by average size people.

 

Ashley Roleson leather sofa – $1212

 

The Ashley Roleson leather sofa shown above is currently available at 1-Stop Bedrooms for $1212.

The store’s website says that the Sale price is discounted from the Regular price of $2639.

The same Ashley sofa is available at other stores.

The highest price I saw was $1789.

Nobody was selling the Ashley Roleson sofa for anything close to the “Regular” price of $2639.

The second sofa (shown below) is the Simplicity Sofas Megan leather sofa. 

This is a “high-quality” couch with an expected lifespan of 20+ years.

Simplicity Sofas Megan leather sofa – $3999 (Not currently available.)

The Megan sofa shown above sold for $3999. 

Although the photos shown here make the sofas look approximately the same size, the Ashley is actually much larger.

Ashley’s Robeson sofa measures 100″w x 40″d x 39″ high.

Simplicity’s Megan Sofa measures 80″w x 32″d x 35″ high.

Why does the smaller Simplicity sofa sell for more than 3x the price of the larger Ashley sofa?

What follows next is a detailed comparison of the estimated manufacturing costs and retail pricing of the two sofas shown above.

All costs listed are approximations and are liable to change on a day-to-day basis.

Comparing Sofa Component Costs

Frame:

Ashley’s frame is MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), plywood, and solid wood.

The manufacturing cost is less than $50 each.

Ashley Sofa frame

 

The Simplicity’s Sofas frame is solid oak.

The manufacturing cost is about $140 each.

At the manufacturing level, this solid oak frame costs about $90 more than the Ashley frame.

At the retail level, that adds about $250 to the Simplicity sofa’s selling price.

Solid oak frame from Simplicity Sofas

 

Foundation:

Ashley uses a “Platform foundation.”

Basically, this is a plywood box that sits underneath the cushions.

Ashley’s marketing materials state that the platform foundation “resists sagging 3x better than spring systems.”

That is absolutely correct.

Plywood platform box foundations do not sag.

They are very inexpensive.

But here are some potential problems with using a platform foundation.

Rigid foundations can cause seat cushions to break down more quickly.

The cushions may become noticeably less firm and comfortable within a year or two.

Simplicity foundations use elasticized non-stretching Pirelli webbing.

A high-quality elasticized webbing foundation adds approximately $200 to the retail price compared with Ashley’s platform foundation.

Both foundations will probably hold up for 20+ years.

Coil spring support systems are another foundation option.

Drop-in coil springs increase the sofa’s retail price by about $250 (compared with Ashley.)

8-way hand-tied coil spring foundations will add an additional $250 to the retail price.

Both drop-in coil springs and 8-way hand-tied should last 20+ years.

Note: Flexsteel’s blue steel flat-spring foundation is unique and not used by any other brand.

The company’s marketing and sales pitch focuses heavily on the amazing durability and comfort of this support system.

The blue flat-steel spring really is as good as Flexsteel claims.

It can comfortably support a sofa for 50 years and more.

Unfortunately, the rest of the couch will not last as long.

A sofa’s lifespan is only as long as its weakest (non-replaceable) part.

Cushions:

Ashley’s 1.8 density foam seat cushions, with a polyester fiber wrapping, have an average lifespan of 3 – 5 years.

1.8 density foam cushions can become noticeably softer and less comfortable within 1 year.

A cushion becomes “worn out” when it loses its shape and resiliency (ability to bounce back.)

At that point, the cushion cores should be replaced.

Larger than average individuals or frequent use can significantly reduce a cushion’s lifespan.

The Simplicity 2.5 density foam seat cushions, with a memory gel foam wrapping, have an average lifespan of 10+ years.

Very little loss of firmness and resiliency occurs over the 10+ year lifespan, even when used by larger than average people.

Each Simplicity 2.5 density foam seat cushion weighs more than 1 lb. more than Ashley’s 1.8 density foam seat cushion.

Simplicity also offers an optional upgrade to a Spring Down seat cushion construction.

The Spring Down cushions have a 15+ year average lifespan, with very little loss of firmness or resiliency over the life of the cushion.

Simplicity’s Spring Down cushions each weigh about 2 lbs. more than a similarly sized 1.8 density cushion.

From a manufacturer’s perspective, the additional cost of 2.5 density foam/fiber wrap cushions over 1.8 density foam/fiber wrap is about $10 per cushion.

Upgrading to Spring Down cushion construction adds an additional $10 to the manufacturer’s cost for each cushion.

At a retail level, the difference is about $100 per sofa to upgrade to 2.5 density foam and another $100 for an upgrade to Spring Down.

Legs:

Ashley’s Roleson sofa has faux wood (plastic) legs.

This saves about $2 per leg at the manufacturing level and $25 per sofa in the store.

Most shoppers can’t tell the difference between wood and plastic legs by looking at a sofa.

Plastic legs can last just as long as those made of wood.

But the use of plastic legs indicates a brand that emphasizes cost over quality.

Leather:

This represents a huge differential in pricing between the two pieces.

Ashley’s leather sofa is actually “Leather Match.

Real leather is used only for the inner seats and backs.

The rest of the sofa is upholstered in a matching vinyl or polyester faux leather.

Ashley’s seats and backs use top grain “corrected” leather.

This is one of the cheapest types of leather available.

The manufacturer’s cost is about $2 per sq. ft.

Hides are approximately 50 ft. each.

2 hides are needed for the seat & back cushions on an average size sofa.

Faux leather costs about $3 per yard. (1 yard of fabric is 36″ long x 54″ wide.)

Approximately 16 yds. of faux leather is needed for the Ashley Roleson “leather” sofa.

Ashley’s material cost for a “leather match” sofa is about $148 from the leather supplier and mill.

Approximately $100 of that cost is for the leather and $48 for the faux leather.

Simplicity Sofas uses aniline top grain leathers for the entire sofa. 

The sofa shown requires 5 hides (approx. 50 sq. ft.. per hide) at an approximate cost of $3 per sq. ft.

The manufacturer’s leather cost is approximately $750.

Compared with Ashley’s leather match, this leather adds about $600 to the manufacturing cost and about $1600 to the sofa’s retail price.

Ashley vs. Simplicity Sofas Cost Comparison Summary

Simplicity Sofas spends about $900 more for the raw materials used in their sofa than Ashley spends for its sofa.

Labor costs are also quite different.

Ashley uses a cell (team) of workers who perform single specific tasks very quickly and efficiently.

Some of the labor, including fabric/leather cutting, is highly automated.

Sewing is performed on high-speed machines using simple patterns (or is done overseas, arriving in kits ready for upholstering.)

Upholstering is a team effort, with a cell of workers.

Each worker has a single specific task, such as an outside arm or an inside back.

The total labor time for the entire team to upholster a sofa will probably be less than 2 hours.

Simplicity Sofas’ labor costs are far higher.

Fabric/leather is cut by hand, one piece at a time.

Sewing is also done one piece at a time.

Upholstering is done by a single (highly paid) craftsperson.

A single leather sofa requires at least 20 hours of upholstering.

Simplicity Sofas’ labor costs are at least $400 higher per sofa than Ashley.

Ashley’s total manufacturing costs were at least $1300 less for each sofa than Simplicity Sofas.

Ashley’s Roleson leather sofa sold for prices ranging from $1212 – $1789.

The average selling price was approximately $1500.

The average selling price was $2500 below Simplicity Sofas’ retail price.

Why do stores sell expensive sofas that break down after only a few years?

There are two reasons:

1) Study after study over many decades has confirmed that “Price” is, by far, the #1 factor in the shopper’s decision about which sofa to buy (in the price range that most people can afford.)

Adding $100 to the price of a sofa, without improving the look or feel (when brand new in the showroom) will decrease the number of sofas sold.

2) It is far more profitable for retailers to sell a $1500 sofa that needs to be replaced after 5 – 7 years than a $1600 sofa that will last 15 – 20 years.

Once a (non-reclining) sofa’s price exceeds $2500 (in fabric) or $3500 in leather, shoppers expect longer lifespans than 5 years.

This is one of the biggest reasons reclining sofas generate so many consumer complaints.

Many reclining sofas, priced far higher than $2500, have average lifespans of 5 years or less.

Furniture Shopping Tip #1

“Regular” prices are a complete fiction when used to compare with a “Sale” price.

It is possible that between Sales events, the Roleson sofa is actually marked at the full price of $2639 in a store, but it rarely sells at that price.

In the unusual case that someone actually wanted to buy the sofa at full price, store salespeople would probably let them know about the frequently discounted price.

It’s embarrassing to sell furniture that goes on sale a short time later for hundreds of dollars less (and creates a bunch of paperwork to issue a refund.)

Furniture Shopping Tip #2

The simplest way for an uneducated shopper to compare furniture quality is by weight.

For the two sofas shown above:

The Ashley Roleson leather sofa weighs 191 lbs.

Simplicity’s Megan leather couch weighs 210 lbs.

Simplicity appears to weigh about 10% more.

That is not a huge difference until you also take comparative size into consideration.

Ashley’s 100″ length is 20″ more than the 80″ Simplicity length.

Ashley’s 40″ overall depth is 8″ more than the 32″ overall depth of the Simplicity sofa.

[Note – Despite the large difference in overall sofa depth, the seat depth (from the front of the seat cushion to the front of the back cushion) is identical for both sofas at 21″.]

Ashley’s 39″ height is 4″ more than the 35″ Simplicity height.

Ashley’s sofa takes up 36% more floor space than the heavier Simplicity sofa.

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6 thoughts on “Sofa Durability vs. Cost: How to Buy a Long-Lasting Affordable Couch”

  1. Lots of information and very helpful! Looking for a sofa now; even I may not be able to buy a expensive one, but the information helps me find out how much a sofa worths exactly, without just by those nice looking and so called “design”. Thank you!

    Reply
    • If you give me more specific information about what you are looking for, I may be able to give you more specific advice.

      In addition, the website will soon feature a new page for companies offering special discounts to Insiders Guide To Furniture readers.

      For example, Furnitureland South, the world’s largest single furniture store (1.3 million sq. ft.) sells over 1000 brands and is offering special pricing and design assistance to my readers.

      Reply
  2. Are you familiar with Arizona Leather? They are located in California, but have stores in Arizona, etc.
    Wondering what you think of their couches and recliners?
    Thanks much, Doreen

    Reply
    • Arizona Leather is a retail chain specializing in leather furniture made in the company’s California factory. The store also sells Natuzzi leather furniture. Stay away from the Natuzzi. The leather is OK, but Natuzzi’s frame and foundation construction is far below the pieces made by Arizona Leather.

      Before making a major purchase it is always a good idea to research the furniture brand and store first. Try to find independent review sites. Store websites are able to edit reviews and delete anything they don’t like.

      One of the best sources for furniture reviews is ConsumerAffairs.com.

      About 50 independent customer reviews for Arizona Leather can be found on this website. The overall score of 3.4 stars out of 5 is actually an excellent score. The average score on ConsumerAffairs.com is under 2.0.

      Many of the complaints against Arizona Leather involve reclining furniture. This will be true for every brand that makes reclining furniture.

      Reclining furniture has, by far, the largest numbers of complaints and problems of any furniture category.
      The large pieces (sofas and sectionals) have more problems than reclining chairs.

      Reply
  3. This was an extremely helpful article! I have been looking for a good quality (I am hoping for 15 yr minimum lifespan) sofa for months and everything I have seen in retail stores seems to be junk even to my untrained eye. Thank you for giving me specific things to look for.

    Reply
    • If you send me a message on “Ask the Expert” with more specific details of what you are looking for, I may be able to give you additional help.

      Details should include:
      What style and size are you looking for?
      Reclining or stationary?
      Fabric or leather?
      Will the furniture be used by anyone who is above average in height or weight?
      What is your budget?
      Any special requirements? (For example: Does anyone in the household have physical problems that may require special considerations? Do you have unusually narrow doors or stairways?)

      Reply

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