Cheap couches are especially a cherished find when economic times are difficult. You may have held on to an old couch because you couldn't afford to buy a new one, but need to find a more comfortable solution.
Where to Start
You can buy quality couches for cheap prices if you know what to look for before purchasing. It's always best to physically examine furniture before buying, especially furniture you use frequently like a couch. You certainly don't want to invest any money in a piece of furniture that's going to be uncomfortable, so take the time to visit local furniture stores. Sit on the couch and imagine how it will hold up under daily wear. Once you've assessed your choice, shop around for the best price. You may discover online furniture at cheaper prices, but you must consider the cost of shipping, which can often be more than the actual price of the cheap couch. Some websites have turned to offering free shipping, which can mean a better buy for you.
Judging Quality in Cheap Couches
There are many ways you can judge the quality of a piece of furniture, especially couches. Just because you're looking for a cheaply priced couch doesn't mean you're willing to settle for an inferior product.
Examine the Frame
The most important part of construction of your couch is the frame. If this is weak, inferior or poorly constructed, your cheap couch will end up being cheaper than you ever wanted. Wood frames are ideal choices if the wood has been properly processed. Kiln-dried wood is the optimum choice for building a sturdy durable frame; however, few cheap couches will be constructed of this more expensive wood choice. Chances are you'll find a cheaper wood product.
Types of Wood Construction
Many cheap couches are constructed from either green wood, which will warp and become misshapen as it naturally cures out or inferior cuts of wood such as those with knots or blemishes. Wood knots are typically weak areas since they are quite thin in comparison to the rest of the wood plank. These areas become natural stress points and weaken over time. Wood knots can crack or even break in two.
Particle board is often used in furniture construction as is plywood. Both wood types are cheaper choices and can be found in cheap couch construction. Some companies use thicker than normal widths to give better support. Cheaper furniture construction uses staples to hold the frame together instead of screws. You want to look at the joints to see how they are put together, especially to see if glue was used to reinforce the joints.
Check the corners of the couch to see if these are reinforced with blocks of wood or metal L-shaped hardware. If the corners have no reinforcement, pass on the purchase because this will be too cheap a piece of furniture to give you much service. You're better off spending an extra 50 or 100 dollars for a couch with reinforced corners to give you the necessary long-term support.
Seat and Back Support
Now that you've gauged the quality of the frame, you want to look at the type of support it gives to the back and seating portion of your couch. The easiest way to determine the quality of this support is to sit on the couch with both of your feet planted firmly on the floor. Next, push against the floor with your feet and lean back into the couch. If you can feel the framing give under the pressure of your body pressing against it, then there is not sufficient seat and back support. Most cheap sofas will have a certain amount of give; however, you don't want it to be rickety. If you hear any type of squeaking or other sound, you don't want to purchase the couch since this is a sign of weak joint construction and frame.
Cushion and Back Filling
There are many types of filling used in furniture construction. The main thing to consider when purchasing a cheap couch is how dense the filling is. Cushions may become flattened under the constant weight of use if the filling quality is poor.
You'll find that cheap sofas use foam (polyurethane) filling and while this is an acceptable material in higher-end couches, you need to check the density of the foam. A low-density foam can give the appearance of full support, but when weight is applied to it, the foam compresses. A high-density foam provides resilient support and the foam is less likely to break-down and disintegrate under use. Extremely cheap couches might use poly-fill in the cushions that would soon need replacing. This offers no support and you should avoid this type of cushion material.
Comfort and Support Balancing Act
You want your couch to be comfortable and soft underneath you when you sit, but you also need it to hold up under daily use. If the construction is inferior, then the couch is going to sag under use.
You probably won't find hand-tied spring construction in a cheap couch unless you luck up on a discontinued model that has been drastically reduced; however, you can still find a good support system in a cheaper couch. While other spring construction might be available in cheaper couches, chances are you'll find a form of web construction that's known as a suspension web-band system. This web effect creates a support system that can be made of various materials. The cheapest is a fabric webbing that can ultimately cause your cushions to sag as the fabric webbing loses its tautness.
Places to Shop
Your choices of material will be limited for cheap couches, but you can still find quality fabrics that are stain resistant. There are many places where you can find good quality couches at a cheap price. Check out your local furniture discount centers.
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