How can you tell the quality of a sofa?

How can you tell the quality of a sofa?

You can identify the quality of a sofa by following a simple checklist, broken down into three simple parts. It's all about understanding how sofas are engineered and getting clarity on the matter is easier than you might think. Start from the bare bones (the frame) and end with the finishing touches (the upholstery). As for the bits in between, follow this guide and you'll be on track to getting the most out of your money when it comes to buying a sofa. Plus, we talk you through what to avoid (and the myths!)


The Frame Cheatsheet

Raft sofa factory worker building a sofa frame from kiln dried hardwood in London

When thinking about the basic engineering of a sofa frame, it goes without saying that to get the most genuine and comprehensive answers, it's best to buy directly from the manufacturer. This vertical supply chain also limits you paying more for less quality. Raft operates with a vertical supply chain. We make our sofas ourselves in London and we sell them directly, too. Beyond this, here is your sofa frame quality cheatsheet:

  • Ask the retailer if staples are used in their sofa frames. If the answer is yes, your sofa will deteriorate and start to squeak over time (like squeaky stairs). If no, get it in writing.

  • Sit on the arm. If it squeaks, feels weak, or the retailer recommends against it, this is a bad sign. Especially when it comes to wide armed sofas, they should serve as an extra seat!

  • Finally, push the sofa. If you can easily nudge it with your leg, that's a sure sign that the frame is too flimsy and won't be able to stand the test of time.


The Fabric Cheatsheet

Close up of the side of the Warwick Sofa from Raft, showing the envelope upholstery technique on the arm

Your sofa fabric is so important because it's the first thing you see and the first thing you feel. Basically, it is the main player in your multi-sensory sofa experience. Therefore, it's important to ensure you've chosen a sofa with high quality fabric. However, there is more than meets the eye with fabric and finding out it's provenance is really important for making ethical decisions. 

  • To be ethically conscious, avoid Chinese fabrics where you cannot verify the provenance of the cotton. 
  • Remove the back cushions from your sofa. Your chosen fabric should be running consistently across its back. No black cloth or "platform cloth" that saves the manufacturer money and costs you an overall polished aesthetic.

  • The fabric should run smoothly across the back of the sofa so it doesn't have to be against a wall for it to look beautiful.

  • The makeup of your sofa material comes down to so much more than being natural or not. Natural materials can give you that effortless lived in look and mean minimising the resources used by the textile industry. However, in the 21st Century, advancements mean that many synthetic materials are recyclable now. They also offer durability and their makeup can make them clever (inherently fire and stain resistant!). So, it's more about thinking what quality means to you when choosing natural vs. synthetic!


The Tricky Access Cheatsheet

Tricky staircases, narrow hallways and awkward doorways are a constant painpoint when buying a sofa, especially in cities like London! Most of our customers have tried so many other retailers before discovering Raft and our bespoke handmade to order service that means we can get any sofa into any home! 

Unfortunately, before discovering us, some people have sought a quick fix in a flat-packed sofa that lacks the frame integrity to stand the test of time. This also means compromising on the quality of the interiors, making the seat less plush and comfortable. As mentioned in the points above, the weight of your furniture often indicates its quality.

So, with this in mind, make sure you're considering these points when shopping for a quality sofa with a tricky to access home. 

  • Book in a free access visit with Raft before we make your sofa. We can make it to order specifically catering to the dimensions of your room. You don't have to do anything! The promise is with us. 

  • Choose a retailer that manufactures its sofas locally to bespoke specifications. It's never one size fits all with Raft. 

  • If you want a 6 seater sofa in your living room, don't compromise because your hallway is too narrow to get it inside. Raft can get any sofa into any home. We'll make it by hand and set it up ourselves. No packaging will be left behind! 

  • Don't allow a sofa retailer to remove your windows! It's not worth the hassle, stress and cost. 

  • Don't pay too much for flat-packed DIY sofas. Think about what you're paying for. Service, durability and comfort. 

How much should you spend on a sofa? 

Buy Cheap, Buy Twice

Sometimes, finding a furniture steal is the best way! However, there are certain pieces of furniture you have to splurge on to ensure quality, style and comfort. The first thing is without a doubt a mattress. A third of your life is spent in bed! The second thing is your sofa. You'll never regret investing in a high quality sofa  

"Most people haven't got enough money to buy a cheap sofa because they simply don't last and you have to rebuy! As they say - buy cheap, buy twice. To get an idea of the cost, let's use a four seater sofa as an example. If a four seater sofa lasts you fifteen years, you should expect to spend £150 a year on it as this is where you'll spend 25% of that time sitting.

One thing to note: don't take a 10 year guarantee on a product from a company that went under last year and has only been trading again for six months. Do your research to make sure you won't be disappointed and lose your money in the long run."

- Mick Quinn, Furniture Designer and co-Founder of Raft Furniture