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How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:04 pm
by katnok
We are looking for furniture for our living room, and zeroed in on fabric kind for sofa and love seat.

My questions are:

1. Does having two young kids (3&5) at home have any bearing on the kind of sofa (fabric vs others) that you would choose?
2. How do I know the quality of the fabric? Are there different quality levels? Any grading system?
3. What brands make good quality fabric sofas?
4. Any stores that you would recommend in DC/Baltimore area?
5. Is Macys a good place to buy furniture from?

Thank you and Merry Christmas!

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:11 pm
by TheTimeLord
With kids 3 & 5 I might head to the Roomstore or Rooms To Go and buy something I planned to replace in a few years. Definitely no looking at leather with kids that age.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:23 pm
by Carson
Following along.

We are in the market for a new sofa too. I *think* we are going to go with a Klaussner brand sofa. We need an affordable sleeper, but someday we want to replace it with leather (5-7 yrs?). I was looking at Berkline, but the saleslady advised me it might be spending a bit more than necessary with my time horizon in mind.

I think it depends on how you use the space. We don't allow food or markers/crayons in our LR, so I am not so concerned about stain protection. I am concerned about fabric wear however. What I have found is that manufacturers divide their fabrics into a couple of grades - the premiums may have a more sturdy surface, or they are more on trend fabrics. Another thing that separates price levels is if the product is made out of solid hardwood frame vs. pressboard.

One thing I have noticed is if you google any furniture manufacturer and 'reviews' or 'feedback', it pretty much only turns up with scathing reviews. And a lot of the positive reviews from people are saying 'I bought my la-z-boy 20 years ago and it has held up fantastically'. Not many people saying 'the sofa i purchased 3 years ago was fine, whaddya expect'.

I'm not advocating timing the market :wink: but it does seem that there are a lot of year-end clearances going on right now.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:25 pm
by katnok
TheTimeLord wrote:Definitely no looking at leather with kids that age.
That's exactly what we did 4 yrs ago, and now there are tears everywhere. So, no more leather furniture for us.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 1:17 pm
by Epsilon Delta
You might care that there have been recent changes to fire retardant standards. The change was last year, but there is probably a long pipeline. Depending on circumstances you could prefer the old standard with more fire retardants or a newer fabric with fewer chemicals.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... ked-flame/

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 1:34 pm
by Mister Whale
This is a small statistical sample, but we have had excellent results with Crate & Barrel cloth-covered furniture.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 2:21 pm
by Mrs.Feeley
Consumer Reports has done a number of reports over the years on how to buy a sofa. Here's a link to one:
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home ... /index.htm

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home ... /index.htm

One of the things you want to look at is the density of the foam. A high density foam is not going to sag and will last longer than cheap foam. And you want to look at how the frame is constructed. CR has advice about that.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 2:54 pm
by Naismith
A note on the value of record-keeping: We had a Lane double recliner sofa that my husband loved, but the recliner mechanism broke after 10 years. The fabric still looked fine, and we found a place that repairs such things--if we could figure out the model number. But the tag on the bottom of the recliner piece had fallen off, and we no longer had the receipt....

When we bought the new one, we took a photo of that tag first thing, and filed the receipt more carefully.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 4:27 pm
by protective1
Regarding Crate & Barrel, I've bought a few things from them and the quality is mixed - some furniture has been spectacular and some only so-so. However, their customer service has always been great. When I've had problems with furniture I received from them, they've always done their best to make it right.
Mister Whale wrote:This is a small statistical sample, but we have had excellent results with Crate & Barrel cloth-covered furniture.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 11:15 pm
by littlebird
Probably not fashionable at the moment - I wouldn't know because my sofa is 32 years old and still shows no wear - but velvet and crushed velvet wear like iron. That's why my sofa is what I just said. Absolutely don't get any fabric that's the thickness of your bed sheets!.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 12:24 am
by Donnie Baseball Fan
I've had good experiences with Crate & Barrel and Room and Board. I think all the furniture I bought from these retailers was made by McCreary Modern.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 12:40 am
by Spooky
We got a mission style sofa that is mostly a wood frame and is very easy to take apart and recover if needed.

You could probably find the same idea in other styles to suit your taste, but is more typical of mission style furniture.

(It turns out that cat has been much tougher on the upholstery than the kids at this point.)

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 12:54 am
by JaneyLH
Over the past 35 years, the fabric furniture I've purchased has lasted 3-7 years and the leather furniture has lasted 12-15 years. The 15 year old sofa is still going strong since my husband figured out how to replace the foam cushions by watching YouTube... most furniture comes with low-grade foam cushions that wear out and have to be replaced. The leather is still fine, despite cats and dogs. I'll never buy another piece of furniture upholstered in fabric.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 2:08 am
by tigermilk
katnok wrote:
TheTimeLord wrote:Definitely no looking at leather with kids that age.
That's exactly what we did 4 yrs ago, and now there are tears everywhere. So, no more leather furniture for us.
There's "leather" and there is leather. Some "leather" is nothing more than a very thin veneer of leather bonded to a synthetic substrate. Even a scratch will penetrate this incredibly thin layer of bonded leather. You'll find high quality leather furniture well over a century old that still holds up to tremendous abuse, whereas the "leather" you get at most places these days is throwaway. You can still get the quality stuff, but it costs.

We've gotten several sofas and chairs at Bassett. No kids but we've always had cats that are never declawed. Not sure which is worse - kids or claws. Anyway, our chairs are fabric and they are well over 10 years old. We picked a fabric on the high end, and they've held up. Sofas are both a higher quality leather that while getting scratched over the years, they don't tear and the scratches look more like good aging.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 7:46 am
by TT
My recommendation would be fabric with the highest content of nylon and or olefin - durable and not too expensive
I would avoid fabric with a high content of polyester and acrylic

This guide may help to compare fabrics:

Linen: Linen is best suited for formal living rooms or adult areas because it soils and wrinkles easily. And, it won't withstand heavy wear. However, linen does resist pilling and fading. Soiled linen upholstery must be professionally cleaned to avoid shrinkage.
Leather: This tough material can be gently vacuumed, damp-wiped as needed, and cleaned with leather conditioner or saddle soap.
Cotton: This natural fiber provides good resistance to wear, fading, and pilling. It is less resistant to soil, wrinkling, and fire. Surface treatments and blending with other fibers often atone for these weaknesses. Durability and use depend on the weave and finish. Damask weaves are formal; canvas (duck and sailcloth) is more casual and more durable.
Wool: Sturdy and durable, wool and wool blends offer good resistance to pilling, fading, wrinkling, and soil. Generally, wool is blended with a synthetic fiber to make it easier to clean and to reduce the possibility of felting the fibers (causing them to bond together until they resemble felt). Blends can be spot-cleaned when necessary.
Cotton Blend: Depending on the weave, cotton blends can be sturdy, family-friendly fabrics. A stain-resistant finish should be applied for everyday use.
Vinyl: Easy-care and less expensive than leather, vinyls are ideal for busy family living and dining rooms. Durability depends on quality.
Silk: This delicate fabric is only suitable for adult areas, such as formal living rooms. It must be professionally cleaned if soiled.
Acetate: Developed as imitation silk, acetate can withstand mildew, pilling, and shrinking. However, it offers only fair resistance to soil and tends to wear, wrinkle, and fade in the sun. It's not a good choice for furniture that will get tough everyday use.
Acrylic: This synthetic fiber was developed as imitation wool. It resists wear, wrinkling, soiling, and fading. Low-quality acrylic may pill excessively in areas that receive high degrees of abrasion. High-quality acrylics are manufactured to pill significantly less.
Nylon: Rarely used alone, nylon is usually blended with other fibers to make it one of the strongest upholstery fabrics. Nylon is very resilient; in a blend, it helps eliminate the crushing of napped fabrics such as velvet. It doesn't readily soil or wrinkle, but it does tend to fade and pill.
Olefin: This is a good choice for furniture that will receive heavy wear. It has no pronounced weaknesses.
Polyester: Rarely used alone in upholstery, polyester is blended with other fibers to add wrinkle resistance, eliminate crushing of napped fabrics, and reduce fading. When blended with wool, polyester aggravates pilling problems.
Rayon: Developed as an imitation silk, linen, and cotton, rayon is durable. However, it wrinkles. Recent developments have made high-quality rayon very practical.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 8:34 am
by Naismith
The thing is, a lot of sofa manufacturers seem to push the less-durable coverings, perhaps so that people will have to buy a new one sooner? I have had good experiences with olefin, but when we tried looking for olefin options a few years back, it was rare to missing in some fabric books.

One of the best pieces of "furniture" that we have is a set of 10 large pillows that I made almost 30 years ago out of neutral light brown olefin upholstery fabric. I stuffed them with foam shreds, in a cotton liner. Between the foam (which doesn't go flat like the polyester fill that is more common) and the durable fabric, they are still looking good after all this time and various family members have hinted that they would like them when we downsize for retirement. They are piled in the living room, between the couch and the piano, and can be used separately for comfy floor seating or as a beanbag mass. They are a fort-building tool for younger children, a place to curl up with a book, extra seating when a bunch of teens are over, an adjustable platform when I was laboring in childbirth.

Living various places, we opted for a shorter couch or only one couch (rather than including a love seat) in order to have room for the pillow pile. For us it was an option that has worked very well. Thinking about it, I believe it was inspired by the mass of pillows in the Austin Public Library children's section. I wonder if they still have those?

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 9:27 am
by leonard
katnok wrote:We are looking for furniture for our living room, and zeroed in on fabric kind for sofa and love seat.

My questions are:

1. Does having two young kids (3&5) at home have any bearing on the kind of sofa (fabric vs others) that you would choose?
2. How do I know the quality of the fabric? Are there different quality levels? Any grading system?
3. What brands make good quality fabric sofas?
4. Any stores that you would recommend in DC/Baltimore area?
5. Is Macys a good place to buy furniture from?

Thank you and Merry Christmas!
If you still have an old sofa and loveseat, consider SureFit covers. We have more than doubled the life of a sofa and chair with surefit covers.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 9:42 am
by lululu
I think you can tell a lot about fabric just by looking closely at it and feeling the thickness. I had my sofa, decades old that had belonged to my parents, reupholstered in decorator grade corduroy about 10(?) years ago and it looks fine after co-existing with cats.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 10:07 am
by Lafder
With kids leather wipes/scrubs off better, but it also can be drawn on with markers.

In general, with kids spills happen.

We still have the leather couches we had when the kids were little. (In all fairness the dogs have worn them out more than the kids when they "dig" to get comfortable : ) But the cloth chair and futon couch we had are long replaced due to stains. (We did eat food on all).

Get what you like, but do not consider it a lifelong 30 plus year investment.

lafder

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 8:41 am
by Leemiller
littlebird wrote:Probably not fashionable at the moment - I wouldn't know because my sofa is 32 years old and still shows no wear - but velvet and crushed velvet wear like iron. That's why my sofa is what I just said. Absolutely don't get any fabric that's the thickness of your bed sheets!.
I'm planning on a velvet sofa for our living room. I love how it looks and feels! Besides, I don't think velvet is ever out of style.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 8:57 am
by Leemiller
We have a three year old and don't let her eat on the furniture or draw anywhere other than at a desk or on a table. We have had to teach her not to climb over our sofa's arm, but then again it's good it is a solid hardwood frame. Our current sofa is about 10 years old and by Restoration Hardware. I'm moving it to the basement but it has held up well. There is an American made leather brand that I'd now purchase if I was buying today but the name is escaping me. It is more expensive though. For sofas I'm leaning towards one by Room and Board or by Mitchell Gold Bob Williams. I like those two brands for style and construction. If I wanted something I planned to reupholster I might consider something by George Smith, but then I think you are in the 7-10k range.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 10:00 am
by StevieG72
I just purchased my first new sofa a few years ago.

After exhaustive due diligence shopping at all of the brick & mortar stores I found a brand I liked that was comfortable.

After test sitting in Haynes I found the same couch online for a GREAT price.

I have a dark fibered microfiber couch, it cleans up nicely with a damp cloth. I have 1 messy kid and it has held up nicely.

The brand is Catnapper which is very fitting since about an hour or so after reclining, I am out cold. It is very comfortable!

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 10:30 am
by katnok
Thanks for all the replies! I didn't know there was so much to buying a sofa.
Mrs.Feeley wrote:Consumer Reports has done a number of reports over the years on how to buy a sofa. Here's a link to one:
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home ... /index.htm
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home ... /index.htm
I went through both links, and the info was really helpful.
tigermilk wrote: There's "leather" and there is leather. Some "leather" is nothing more than a very thin veneer of leather bonded to a synthetic substrate. Even a scratch will penetrate this incredibly thin layer of bonded leather.
You are right, tigermilk. What we have is "leather". We bought a sectional a little over 4 yrs ago for about 2k, and you can clearly see the wear and tear all over. I think its poor quality, not the kids.
TT wrote:My recommendation would be fabric with the highest content of nylon and or olefin - durable and not too expensive
I would avoid fabric with a high content of polyester and acrylic
Thanks TT. Your guide is really useful. I am going to make a copy of this and take it along when we go shopping.
leonard wrote: If you still have an old sofa and loveseat, consider SureFit covers. We have more than doubled the life of a sofa and chair with surefit covers.
We have another sofa (microfiber), which may be able to extend its life by getting these covers. Thank you.

Re: How to choose Fabric Sofas?

Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 11:42 am
by praxis
We have sent all our upholstered furniture out for recovering and usually re-plumping with fiberfill many times. A well-built chair or sofa in a traditional style frame will last generations. We have two of my grandparent's chairs in their 3rd life that way. I have inherited solid pieces and even found candidates in estate sales.

What some stores call microfiber these days seems to vary. Similar feel fabrics used to be called velvet or velour. Spots clean easily on the pieces with these fabrics. Most of our pieces are solid colors now, but patterns hide spots better. I have often sprayed our furniture with a soil repellent like Scotchgard.

I like furniture with cushions that can be flipped and turned to delay wear patterns. Most of our pieces have been re-upholstered to get a new look rather than because of wear or soiling, even raising our boys on them.

Most quality upholsterers carry trunkloads of fabric sample swatches you can take home and decide. We have also visited fabric shops and brought home samples. Recovering a chair is expensive from a good shop, but cheaper than a quality new chair. A sofa is more, of course, and a sectional really costs a lot, but cheaper than new. The major variable in the quotes is the quality of fabric you choose. I think my bias is born of a true distaste for junking serviceable things. We used to get 2 quotes for a job, but lately feel fine using the shop that has done work for us.