How long do sofas really last

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stlutz
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How long do sofas really last

Post by stlutz » Sun Mar 29, 2015 1:53 pm

So, I redid my basement and am looking for a sofa to put down there. I've bought one other soft in my life--one from La-Z-Boy about 18 years ago for ~$500 which I still find extremely comfortable (and will be keeping on my main floor).

As I've read the various design-snob websites/forums (which actually are helpful), I'm kind of struck by what I see about expected couch lifespan. They say that an Ikea sofa may last up to two weeks while s $10K one may last up to 10 years, which would seem to make my existing sofa some kind of outlier. Either a) I have a different definition of "worn out"; b) "worn out" is just a eupehmism for "I'm tired of the old one and want something new"; c) furniture quality has gotten a *lot* worse over the past 20 years.

The other interesting thing I always see is that the advice is generally to buy less expensive furniture if it takes more abuse (e.g. you have children/pets) but you you should buy more expensive furniture if you are nice to it. From this I suppose I could conclude that cheaper furniture is equally/more long-lasting than expensive pieces and that "hardwood construction", "85-way hand-tied spring coils" etc. are just marketing gimmicks from a durability perspective.

This all sent my running back to the more rational world of Bogleheads where we think about things more sensibly.

So, my questions are:

--What kind of life do you all *actually* get out of your sofas?
--What *really* matters durability-wise when buying a sofa, particularly if you don't have children/pets?

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LiveSimple
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by LiveSimple » Sun Mar 29, 2015 1:55 pm

7 -12 years

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by midareff » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:00 pm

I recently donated a leather Natuzzi sofa to charity which looked like new after 20 years of light working adult only use. I replaced it with another Natuzzi that gets moderate use and will surprise me if it makes 5 years. Go figure.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by NYPhD » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:05 pm

We got just under 7 year out of our current Macys couch.
It is leather and the paint is coming off in one seat area.
This is a couch used every day by three people.

I think that the major factor is use. I'm sure that if we never used it, it would be like new.

On a related topic, is there a fix out there for painted leather couchs?

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by livesoft » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:06 pm

20 years so far. But I must say, many days no one sits on them or even lays down on them. One of the sofas is a hide-a-bed, too. Used for sleepovers when the kids were younger. Adult guests sleep on a real bed in one of the bedrooms. I don't think our sofas were expensive, but they were not Ikea either. I have had Ikea furniture when I lived in Europe.

Also, we are still on the same mattresses for 20 years, too. They seem to be just as new as the day we bought them.
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by HongKonger » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:11 pm

Given that IKEA sofas come with a 10 year warranty, I don't get the IKEA bashing personally.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Lon » Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:14 pm

I purchased a good looking sofa bed from Costco two weeks ago for $645 which works out nicely in my two bed two bath apartment. I have no idea how long it will last and don't worry about it. This particular sofa bed does not have that uncomfortable bar running across the bed that many sofa beds seem to have.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:22 pm

stlutz wrote:The other interesting thing I always see is that the advice is generally to buy less expensive furniture if it takes more abuse (e.g. you have children/pets) but you you should buy more expensive furniture if you are nice to it. From this I suppose I could conclude that cheaper furniture is equally/more long-lasting than expensive pieces and that "hardwood construction", "85-way hand-tied spring coils" etc. are just marketing gimmicks from a durability perspective.
You misinterpreted the advice. The advice assumes that children/pets will ruin any sofa they touch. Therefore, the advice is more related to the cost of replacing that which the children/pets will inevitably trash, rather than the ability of the sofa to stand up to said children and pets. In other words, don't put nice things where they will be ruined in short order by a proverbial stampeding herd of buffalo. Buy a cheap sofa, let the proverbial stampeding herd destroy it, and don't be out too much money when you have to replace the destroyed sofa. If your children/pets do not behave like a stampeding herd of buffalo around the sofa, then the advice to buy cheap does not apply.

In general, the entry-level manufacturers use cheaper materials and construction methods, which will lead to a shorter average lifespan for the furniture when compared to the average lifespan for higher-quality products. Perhaps they use low-quality or thin wood for the frame, which is more prone to breaking. They may use springs that have a tendency to be "sprung" more quickly than higher quality springs. The fabric may wear out quickly.

But keep in mind these are just averages. If you take care of an entry-level sofa, it may last you for years beyond its average lifespan. I still have the pine-framed futon "couch" I purchased 15 years ago, which is a pretty good lifespan for something that cost me $500 new (plus another $175 for a new futon mattress 5 years ago). Meanwhile, I have a $500 recliner I purchased two years ago that the cats have done a real number on. They like how the fabric feels on their claws and no amount of double-sided tape or scratching posts in the way dissuades them. Still perfectly usable as a recliner, just not very pretty.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by adamthesmythe » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:12 pm

In some cases inexpensive furniture has lasted me longer than I liked.

There is a world of difference between 500 and 10K. 10K is into designer territory where it is not really about durability. Go somewhere in the middle and I suspect you will get plenty of use out of it. (Unless you have a dog that eats sofas, that is).

Indeed, for a great many things the real value is in the middle.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by retiredjg » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:41 pm

My couch is at least 65 years old. It was "good solid furniture" when it was bought sometime between 1945 and 1950. Lived through a couple of kids and about 6 dogs (more or less consecutively) and 2 or 3 cats.

My parents had it reupholstered at least once. I've done it twice I think. That costs more than a new sofa at many stores, but it's worth it to me.

It is definitely time to do it again...not looking forward to that.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by poker27 » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:43 pm

We got a small sub 1k sectional that was falling apart within the first year, and we trashed within 2 years. We recently got another sectional that was around 5k. This thing better last 10+ years.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by praxis » Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:00 pm

retiredjg wrote:My couch is at least 65 years old. It was "good solid furniture" when it was bought sometime between 1945 and 1950. Lived through a couple of kids and about 6 dogs (more or less consecutively) and 2 or 3 cats.

My parents had it reupholstered at least once. I've done it twice I think. That costs more than a new sofa at many stores, but it's worth it to me.
Same here.

We bought or inherited solid furniture with simple classic lines
A good re-upholstry job including adding some bolstering of the stuffing results in a fresh look.
The two companies we've used directed us to local fabric shops after measuring and giving us number of yards needed.
We brought home samples and chose the ones we liked and bought the fabric.
One time we picked our favorites out of swatch books they keep updated in their truck.

Works great for us. I'd guess 3 chairs are over 60 years old easy, two are 30 years old and one couch is also about 30.

I admit cheaper furniture springs eventually give out and it's not worth it.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Traveler » Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:33 pm

My sofa, chair and ottoman set is 13 years old and still looks decent. I nap on the couch on the weekends and use the chair quite often for computer work, etc. It's light colored and I'm not particular about shoes on it, etc so it could use a good cleaning but otherwise it is fine. Had a clawless cat for about 10 years of the furniture's life. Paid about $1500 for the set in early 2002.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by itstoomuch » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:38 pm

Mom's MidCentury Modern is 55 yo but has had cushions replaced once and the foam needs to replaced. The rubber seat suspension replaced with plywood. Teak frame refinished.
Our 40 yo butcher block, penitentiary made dorm style sofa has had the cushions replaced.
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by spth » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:57 pm

Our current sofa was bought used in 1939. That's not a typo. We hope our children and grandchildren will continue to get use of it. So, I would say a long time.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by 6miths » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:32 pm

retiredjg wrote:My couch is at least 65 years old. It was "good solid furniture" when it was bought sometime between 1945 and 1950. Lived through a couple of kids and about 6 dogs (more or less consecutively) and 2 or 3 cats.

My parents had it reupholstered at least once. I've done it twice I think. That costs more than a new sofa at many stores, but it's worth it to me.

It is definitely time to do it again...not looking forward to that.
My mom's sofa set was purchased in 1957 and has survived 3 kids and several grandchildren as well as many dogs. I has been reupholstered once and looks better than the less than 1 year old set that we purchased from a good furniture store less than a year ago (mainly thanks to the dog occasionally nesting on the cushion backs). Our original set is in the basement and looks better at 20 years old with one reupholstering. Same furniture store. Four children and several dogs.
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by TomTX » Sun Mar 29, 2015 9:56 pm

HongKonger wrote:Given that IKEA sofas come with a 10 year warranty, I don't get the IKEA bashing personally.
Yeah, my $200* Klippan is still working fine after >10 years. It's got some stains, but I have covers for it.

*They're selling now for $250 around here.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by White Coat Investor » Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:08 pm

Sofas last until their purchasers decide they want a new look.
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Erwin » Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:10 pm

In 1980 we bought two sofas at Ethan Allen for our living room. We have changed the cover fabric once but as far as I know they can last for another 20 years. Like my mother used to say, "I am too poor to buy cheap." They were very expensive, but very worth it.
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Peter Foley » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:12 pm

We bought our current couch in 1992. It is beginning to show a little wear, but still looks nice. It is in a room where it does not get daily use. I think we paid about $800 for it - I'm sure I still have the sales ship in my files.

Quality is an issue - ours was a good quality couch. We have never had pets and our two daughters (age 7 and 9 when we bought the couch) were not hard on furniture.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Tyrobi » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:35 pm

Our sofa lasts 7 years with heavily daily use.
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Rupert » Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:50 am

The answer totally depends on how you use the sofa and your size. A well-made sofa infrequently used by a 110-lb woman may last forever. A sofa, even a well-made one, used daily for naps, etc., by a 250-lb man will likely last under 10 years.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by wfrobinette » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:08 pm

My grandma has the same sofa in her house that was there when my Mom and dad were dating 45+ years ago. Buy quality and it will last. Though quality is very hard to find these days.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by gloomydog » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:16 pm

My parents and dogs were on their cheap sofas daily, and they only looked nice for 1 year. Functionally, can last for 10 years, but with holes, scratches, etc.

My (husband and I + big dog) use the couches much less, maybe a few min/day. The pottery barn one is 5 years old, the Ikea leather one is 8 years old (was about 6yo when someone gave it to us as they upgraded), both look like new. I do put a protector over the leather sectional most of the time to guard against dog. They look like brand new couches and feel the same.

Right now I am of the opinion furniture lasts forever. I haven't had to buy a lot yet since I am happy using 2nd hand, good looking items. Oldest piece is the former dining table now kitchen table set/chest of drawers/side table - 10+ yo and counting. They don't look wonderful, but are completely functional with no holes and few scratches.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by camptalcott » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:21 pm

HongKonger wrote:Given that IKEA sofas come with a 10 year warranty, I don't get the IKEA bashing personally.


Ok, let me count the ways. I'm going backwards.

late 2013 I purchased my new home while my old home was on the market. I purchased an IKEA kitchen table with two chairs for staging. LOL it wasn't even used but for a few open houses. I had IKEA put it together not because it was difficult but because I did not have the time. My realtor said a heavy set man sat down in one of the chairs and the darn thing broke. lol. I'm not talking about 700lbs but just hefty (now I can't verify the weight asI wasn't there when it happened)


In 2013 my youngest was a sophomore in college, decided to move off campus, we purchased him a cheap IKEA bedroom set. In June when we went to pick him up we threw it out. piece of crap. the back of the dresser had come completely off ( it was a piece of plywood) and the seams of 3/4 of the draws were breaking. This was a dresser, I know he's a college kid but really a dresser is not supposed to break from opening and closing the drawers

In 1995 we purchased an IKEA sofa and chair and entertainment unit. now we specifically didn't pay a lot because we put it in the family room and our boys were super rambunctious, all testosterone kids. after a year of regularly video playing, a few dogs and normal family use ( I do not allow my kids to jump on furniture) that coach was toast.


Now I don't bash ikea because it's cheaps I buy it when I want some thing that will only last a year or two but let's not pretend that it's high quality furniture. let's put it this way, I live near Manayaunk PA which is known for it's high quality, estate sale furniture. no one is selling used "ikea" stuff.
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by camptalcott » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:26 pm

the furniture I have now has lasted about 15 years but I got it from high point NC and it's very well made. I paid a couple of thousand for it.
I also have a gorgeous red leather recliner, I've had it for about 10 years

Now also my kids are young adults now so they are not at home as much. so the family room and living room gets used much less.
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Gary Guss » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:30 pm

If you live in Lexington KY it will only last until they win another NCAA championship.... Image

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by camptalcott » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:40 pm

Gary Guss wrote:If you live in Lexington KY it will only last until they win another NCAA championship.... Image
lol
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Macmungo » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:49 pm

The sofa in our living room began life, covered in leather, in my parents' study in 1930. After 35 years of children and pets I inherited it in 1965 and had it reupholstered in a good velvet. Since then moderate use, but the last litter of kittens did the fabric in and it heeds help, though still structurally sound. The family room sofa is 15 years old and as solid as new.
Last edited by Macmungo on Mon Mar 30, 2015 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by FuyuKei » Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:03 pm

If you keep the oil changed it'll run forever... :wink:

But seriously, if a mattress lasts about 8 years , I think it stands to reason a couch, made of similar stuff but used less, can see longer time than that. But after a while all the yucky human stuff might make it gross. If it gets saggy enough it would get uncomfortable. But if you wash your couch regularly that can also extend it's life.

Also there's a lot of stuff I've seen on pinterest where you can quite easily restuff the pillows. You can also reupholster it. Unless the main structure is broken they don't seem too hard to fix any minor annoyances.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by SR II » Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:14 pm

NYPhD wrote:On a related topic, is there a fix out there for painted leather couchs?
What is "painted leather"? Could it possibly be "bonded leather" (http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2 ... ence.html)? Bonded leather "peels".

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by likegarden » Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:40 pm

Our living room has the same 2 chairs, love seat and sofa since 1987. Nothing is worn, though I only use one chair frequently, also not worn. In 1987 we bought a bed couch which my adult son sits on every day while watching TV and internet, is worn somewhat. We have one chair from 1970, used every day and not worn. One look-like leather couch from 2002 though had a cat scratch deeply the side panels, will buy a cover for that. All items were middle price, buy never design. We have a king size mattress from Englander for 22 years, is still in perfect shape, but the preceding locally (cheaply made, high profit) Sealy mattress was worn out in 2 years. Both mattresses did about cost the same.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by stlutz » Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:17 pm

Thanks everyone for the thoughts. I think my conclusions are:

a) Longevity is more closely related to the user/use than the furniture itself. One reason more expensive furniture often lasts longer is people take care of it in a way they don't with stuff from Target ("Don't eat dinner sitting on the nice couch! Go downstairs and use that sofa!").

b) Buy something where the cushions can easily be restuffed or otherwise repaired if need be. You can always replace bad filling with good filling.

c) Frame quality matters, but there is not a need to go overboard. If there is some plywood, probably not a big problem; pressboard, not so good.

d) There is a certain amount of randomness involved as well.

e) One's taste or house may change long before a piece of furniture wears out, so budget based on that reality.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by bru » Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:47 pm

For all the people that say they use their sofa a few minutes a day or similar, what are you doing? Standing up the eight or so hours you are home? Or is it not your daily driver?

FWIW I bought my sleeper sofa/reclining loveseat/corner table unit from Montgomery Ward's in 1988. Still using it daily. I was single when I bought it. Now I'm married with a grade schooler. Also three cats, not all at the same time. Its in our family room and has gotten plenty of use and still looks ok. Living room sofa/loveseat are 11 years old and are basically brand new since they are rarely used.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by psteinx » Tue Mar 31, 2015 12:30 am

5 new sofas in the last ~21 years, I think (first one bought by my wife shortly before we got married).

All fabric. Mostly in the $500-1500 ish range (the ~1500 was probably #2 - a sectional, so, bigger)

First one, battleship style (i.e. large and maybe a little ugly) sleeper sofa.

Lasted maybe 6-8 years or so? Cushions kinda worn out (not cushy), and overall became kinda uncomfortable...

#2 - sectional. Very comfortable. Lasted a long time - close to 10 years. Dog chewed on cushions some (not really the furniture's fault) and started to get tatty.

#3 - sectional. Perhaps 3-4 years old. Cheapish (~700-900?) Not wearing well. Fabric seams coming apart. Feel of it is a bit cheap. But it IS comfortable.

#4 - basement sofa bought perhaps 10-12 years ago. Less used, getting worn, but OK.

#5 - basement sleeper sofa also bought perhaps 10-12 years ago. Even less used. Good condition, but barely used.

---

So, for the 3 heavily used couches, assuming the current one is replaced in perhaps 2 years, then we're about on about a 7-8 year average. Family of five (now - less back in the day...), plus various dogs. Heavy use, fabric sofas...

Also, whenever I've (briefly) looked into reupholstery or the like, it didn't seem worthwhile - costs about as much as a new sofa. Perhaps if these had been $5K sofas, then reupholstering would have made sense...
Last edited by psteinx on Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:24 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by bottlecap » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:34 am

stlutz wrote:Thanks everyone for the thoughts. I think my conclusions are:

a) Longevity is more closely related to the user/use than the furniture itself. One reason more expensive furniture often lasts longer is people take care of it in a way they don't with stuff from Target ("Don't eat dinner sitting on the nice couch! Go downstairs and use that sofa!").

b) Buy something where the cushions can easily be restuffed or otherwise repaired if need be. You can always replace bad filling with good filling.

c) Frame quality matters, but there is not a need to go overboard. If there is some plywood, probably not a big problem; pressboard, not so good.

d) There is a certain amount of randomness involved as well.

e) One's taste or house may change long before a piece of furniture wears out, so budget based on that reality.
I think this is a fairly good summary. If you buy something with a decent frame and keep pets off and make children sit properly, you'll easily get 10-20 years from it. Sadly, these days, you have to worry about adults as well, as very few people treat furniture with respect anymore. If I were to do much entertaining, I'd definitely go with something easier to replace. After having to repair a relatively new couch after a get together, I've taken to scolding both 5 year olds and 50 year olds when they do things like sit on the arm rest.

JT

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:48 am

Bought a showroom couch (hide a bed) for about $2k, have had it about 12 years, still going - cushions are very comfortable for napping and kids like to jump on it. :wink:
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by leod » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:47 am

we replaced a sofa that lasted 7 years, it was bonded leather and pitting. didn't know about this when we bought it.

we got a real leather this time with 2x the cost of the old one, we expect it to last for 10+ years.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:19 am

2 couches - one around $1K and the other around $2K - have lasted 10 years+. I expect a 3rd we purchased recently to last as long (used this one to replace an antique but uncomfortable couch of unknown age). All are solid frames with life-time warranties on the frames. We have replaced the cushions/covers on the one that gets the most wear (it is slip-covered so was easy to replace cushions and get new covers for). We like the slip cover couch - when it gets dirty you can literally remove all the fabric off the couch and wash.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Bustoff » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:27 am

I regularly drive out to the country to a favorite fishing hole. For 6 years in all kinds of weather I've seen the same couch on the front lawn of the same house out there. Next time I drive by there I will stop and find out the make of that couch.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Quotia » Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:48 pm

Our living room sofa is about 175 years old. No idea how many times it's been reupholstered! It's gorgeous, but not the most comfortable of sofas.

We bought the family room sofa about 12 years ago. My son poked a hole in the fabric on one of the cushions, but otherwise it's still in good shape after being used and abused by 3 active children and two bad kitties. Still very comfortable. My youngest is in middle school; we're hoping the sofa holds out until he goes off to college.

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by tractorguy » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:16 pm

Its going to vary a lot. Unfortunately, the quality associated with historically middle of the road brand names doesn't seem to be a guarantee of long life any more. I bought a La-Z-Boy middle of the road cloth covered recliner in about 1980 that lasted until 1993. It was still comfortable but we elected to not keep it when we moved overseas. I bought a more expensive, leather, La-Z-Boy in 2008 and its already suffering from cushion breakdown and getting uncomfortable. (6 years)

I've found that you should separate the upholstery material from the decision about brand name of the furniture. The quality of the frame and cushions is what makes the difference between something that's worth re-upholstering and a throw-away. That's something you can't see but with a little digging, you can get a good idea. Look for hardwood frames, a foot in the middle, etc. Generally if the company is paying more for the frame, they might also be buying better cushion material.

The upholstery cost can be over half the cost of the item and it's cost can vary a lot. Generally, the plainest, lower cost synthetics are the hardest wearing and the best choice for an item that is going to be used hard. Fancy fabrics cost a lot more but frequently don't wear as well. Cotton is cheap but it stains easily and doesn't wear well.

Good luck.
Lorne

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by littlebird » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:30 pm

My 33 year-old moderately priced velvet covered sofa is just starting to show its age: 1 seam slightly opening, springs noticeably losing firmness. No children in home during its tenure and long-legged spouse taught not to sit with legs straight out and thighs pressing down on front edge - this position causes premature collapse of sofa. That is, at less than 33 years. :wink:

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by kolea » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:37 pm

We have never retired a sofa, so cannot say. We bought a new one 15 years back, and gave the old one to our dog. She likes to lie on the sofa and used to try to crowd us off of it while watching TV, so just gave up and let her have one of her own. Yes, we are indulgent to the dog. The one we bought is leather - it is more durable than cloth and can withstand more abuse, I figured. It has held up very well. Looks good too.
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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by Leemiller » Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:41 am

Maybe you should have added "and still look good," to the end of your question. We have a leather sofa from Restoration Hardware that is about 11 years at this point. Leather is ok but a bit dried out and vintage looking (then again it looked vintage when we purchased it).

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by tbradnc » Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:50 am

We purchased a Lazy Boy sofa about 15 years ago but it has been through 3 teenage children growing up and about 500 of their friends sleeping on it over the years.

I'm going to guess that equal to 323 years of use by 2 middle or senior age adults who mainly sit and watch Netflix. :)

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Re: How long do sofas really last

Post by abuss368 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:08 pm

Our sofa is close to 15 years and is not used that hard.
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