Dean Sharp’s Furniture Buying Guide | KFI AM 640

Tips for buying furniture:

1. Know your wood types. Wood furniture falls into three categories: solid wood, veneers, and particleboard or composite wood.

• Solid wood can sometimes include plywood (look for 9 layers)

• Solid wood can be made up of finger-jointed (glued) pieces

• Veneers are often laid on less valuable solid wood

• Hardwoods vs softwoods (hardwoods/conifers)

Ask the species – some hardwoods (aspen) are softer than some softwoods

2. Avoid nails and staples.

• Best – Joinery – mortise and tenon

• Second Best – Studs

• Third – screw – pocket screw

• Fourth – glue – well applied but not dependent

• No – nails or staples

3. Open drawers and cupboards.

• Do the doors close smoothly?

• Do the drawers slide easily and straight?

• What is the drawer guide mechanism?

• How are the drawer boxes fixed?

• Dust panels between drawers

• Remove the drawers and look inside

  • Lift one leg and listen to the squeaks
  • Lean on it and feel it wobble

4. Consider your lifestyle – sustainability

• finishes

• padding – natural/synthetic, waterproof weave, cleaning – SUNBRELLA!!!

If there is a tag or tag, look for a cleaning code:

“W” means water-based cleaners, “S” means solvent-based cleaners (“dry cleaning”), “X” means liquid-free (vacuum only).

5. Look up the skirt and look at those legs

6. Springs – there is no better style of springs – look for an even feel, good pressure, close together

7. Padding

You shouldn’t feel the frame through the padding.

Lined skirts hold their shape better.

Solid support

Check that the patterns line up at the seams

8. Know your cushions

back pillow vs box

foam – down – springs – synthetic padding

number of cushions – number of people seated

attached, semi-attached, loose


unzip a seat cover and look inside. You should see a block of foam wrapped in dacron, cotton or (for very high end cushions) down, preferably with a protective inner cover (usually muslin). Foam-only cushions are both less durable and less comfortable. If you’re buying new furniture, ask after the foam density of the seat: you’re looking for 1.8 pounds or more.

Removable back cushions may also contain foam, but are more often loose. In the latter case, several internal compartments are preferable because they prevent the backfill from settling.

9. Don’t Exclude Used Furniture – Facebook Marketplace, Estate Sales, Vintage

10. Haggle!!!!

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