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Red flags to look out for when buying furniture


Buying furniture is as much about comfort as it is about the design. Of course, you want it to fit in with your decor and the rest of the room, but you will also want it to be usable and hard-wearing. 

Furniture can be a good investment if you know what to look for. Here, then, are some of the red flags to keep an eye out for for when you are in the market for furniture. 

The maker of the furniture

When considering buying any furniture, take a look at the maker first and do your research if you are unsure. Companies such as the Modern Furniture Company, a leading Bontempi furniture supplier in the UK, are known for luxury pieces. 

It doesn’t matter if the piece is new or used, you can still get a history of the furniture maker and see if they have a reputation for quality. This may mean a little research on your part, but in the long run, it will be worth it. 

What is the suspension like?

You can tell a lot about the quality of furniture by the suspension used to make it. Some types are of lower quality than others or are unsuitable for the purpose they are being used. 

  • Webbing uses lengths of material that are woven together. While this can be durable, it is also prone to stretching or ripping if there is too much weight. Webbing can be ok for small pieces such as chairs and barstools but will stretch and sag on larger pieces. 
  • Sinuous springs are curved pieces of wire that stretch from one side to the other. They are prone to bending and snapping, so are only useful for chair backs. It is cheap to use and fit so you should consider that it is a poorly built piece of furniture. 
  • 8-way hand-tied uses big springs that are tied together with twine. This is a comfortable suspension that can be used in sofas and armchairs. It is also strong and hard-wearing so will last a long time. 
  • Pocket coil is the ultimate in suspension. It is used in sofas, chairs and mattresses and uses hundreds of small coils that are all in their own pocket and then sewn together to form one piece. The pocket coil is supportive and comfortable across the whole surface. 

Lightweight can be bad

Although some high-quality furniture will use light metals and other materials, this is usually the exception. Lighter furniture generally means that the materials used are less supportive and not so hard-wearing. 

Whether it is chairs, cushions, or any other type of furniture, you need to check the weight first. If it has a weight to it, then the chances are that high-quality materials were used to create it. 

The lighter the furniture is, the more it may deform or deteriorate over time compared to high-quality items made from strong materials. 

When leather isn’t leather

Many companies will claim that their furniture has leather, but it isn’t the same as real leather. What is often called ‘bonded leather’ is actually leather pulp that is flattened and fixed to a polyurethane backing. 

You can often tell if something is real leather or fake because fake leather has a uniformity to its patterning while real leather doesn’t. You can also find a distinctive smell in real leather that cannot be copied with fake leather. Lastly, real leather will have a coarse suede feel to it. If the back has a fabric feel, then it is fake. 

If you are looking for real leather, then look for terms such as full-grain or top-grain to show it’s real. If you see 100% leather everywhere your body touches, this means that the sides and back are likely bonded leather. 

You need a solid frame

Luxury sofas and chairs are built on a sturdy frame that is designed to withstand all the rigours of use. This is done using the best hardwoods along with blocking at the corners and tight-fitting joins using double doweling. 

It can be hard to spot a sofa or chair with a weak frame, but there is one sign that will show you. Apart from the weight (luxury furniture will be heavy), you can also lift one of the front feet. You want the opposite foot to rise slightly after the one you are holding. This shows minimal flexing. If it takes a while or doesn’t lift at all, then it's flexing too much. 


Looking for quality furniture is worth the additional time it will take. You will want to know that you are buying something that will probably last for many years – and these tips can help you ensure exactly that.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Jordanhill School