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Why is it That Most Sofas do Not Last Longer Than 5 Years?

By Jeff Frank


Do sofa companies deliberately make furniture so that it falls apart quickly and parts cannot be repaired or replaced?

Dec. 19, 2020


15 years ago people expected their new sofas to last 8 – 10 years, according to an industry survey.

Sofa prices have not changed very much since that time. But the average sofa lifespan has been reduced to 3 – 5 years.

Price is the primary factor for most people in determining what furniture they will buy. This has resulted in cutthroat price competition among the major retailers.

  • Fewer than 50 large retailers account for most U.S. furniture sales.
  • These mega-retailers have tremendous power to dictate pricing to thor suppliers.
  • Competition drives many furniture manufacturers to emphasize the outward appearance of new sofas.
  •  Cost reductions are made on internal components that cannot be seen or felt, but affect overall quality and strength.

Most people seem to think that a sofa’s frame and foundation determine its durability. But those parts rarely limit the useful life of a sofa.

  • Low cost sofa frames and foundations usually last 10 or more years with normal use.
  • Many low priced fabrics (priced to manufacturers at $5/yd. or less) are extremely durable. With periodic cleaning and maintenance they can last 10 years or more.

Cushions are the component that most often limits a sofa’s lifespan.

Budget and mid-priced sofas are usually sold with standard 1.8 density foam cushions.

  • 1.8 density foam cushions have an average lifespan of 3 – 5 years before losing their resiliency (ability to bounce back.)
  • Once that occurs, the cushions flatten out and are no longer comfortable.
  • Very few consumers replace worn out cushions.

Better quality (higher density) foam can last more than twice as long.

  • Upgrading to 2.5 density foam more than doubles the cushion’s lifespan.
  • The extra cost is around $5 per cushion (at the manufacturing level.)
  • This translates to a $20 increase at retail.

Reclining sofas cost more and have an even shorter lifespan.

  • Most popularly priced reclining furniture is made with non-removable seat cushions.
  • Reclining seats wear out more quickly due to added friction when in use.
  • Frames are less sturdy than standard sofa frames, while supporting far more weight.

Leather sofas can be especially wasteful.

  • Real leather can last 20 years or more (and add several hundred dollars to a sofa’s cost.)
  • Leather does nothing to improve the sofa’s overall lifespan if it has the standard 1.8 density cushions that wear out after 3 – 5 years.

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