Shopping For Family-Friendly Furniture? Key Terms To Understand

If you are like most people, different sofas, desks, and kitchen tables might seem pretty similar at first. Unfortunately, if you unintentionally opt for a lower-quality product, you might have buyer's remorse a few months after your purchase—especially if you have kids. Here are several furniture terms you need to understand before you start shopping, so that you can be happy with your decision:

1: Leather Furniture

Kids can be messy, which is one reason that many families opt for leather furniture. Instead of having to watch milk bottles leak and soak into fabric couch cushions, you might be able to simply wipe that moisture away with a damp cloth. However, shopping for leather furniture can be confusing, especially if you have never owned it before. Here are three leather vocabulary words you need to understand if you are in market for a new leather sofa, chair, or sectional:

  • Bonded: Because you might run and hide when you hear the words "vinyl," most manufacturers refer to synthetic leather as "bonded leather." Bonded leather contains scraps of actual leather, blended together to form a solid piece of shiny, leather-like material. Although bonded leather doesn't typically smell or feel exactly like natural leather, it is a durable, inexpensive product.
  • Top-Grain: If you are looking for honest-to-goodness, pure leather, look for the words "top-grain." Top grain leather is the most common leather used in high-end leather products, and it has been sanded and finished to resist stains. However, because top-grain leather is composed of actual sheets of natural leather, it tends to be more expensive than the bonded variety.
  • Embossed: Both bonded and top-grain leather can be embossed, which means that the sheets are rolled and pressed between patterned plates. The result is leather that has a little texture, which can disguise fingerprints and grime.

As you consider your leather furniture options, carefully consider where the piece will reside and how much abuse it stands to take. For example, if you plan to use the sofa in your family room, you might decide to opt for a bonded sofa with an embossed pattern.

2: Wooden Furniture

Have you ever purchased a wooden table or chair, only to deal with puckered scratches and wobbly legs later? Wooden furniture can be hard to shop for, especially since cheaper pieces can be made to resemble higher-end versions. Here are some key terms you need to know, and how choose a product that won't break apart:

  • Softwood vs. Hardwood: High-end furniture is typically crafted from hardwoods like maple, oak, walnut, and cherry. Hardwood is more desirable because it has a lower moisture content, which makes it less susceptible to bending, warping, and denting. However, softwoods like pine, spruce, and cedar are made from trees that grow more rapidly, which drives down the price. Unfortunately, furniture made from softwood might not hold its shape as well. If you can afford it, always shop for furniture made from solid hardwoods.
  • Joinery: The way the wood pieces are joined together matters too. If wood is simply butted together and glued in place, it can break apart easily. Look for pieces with dovetail or mortise and tenon joints, which are much sturdier.
  • Distressed: If you are worried about your kids scratching your table or leaving dents, ask for distressed wood. Distressed wood contains man-made dents, dings, and scratches, which create a nostalgic look while disguising future damage.

During your shopping trip, carefully analyze different wooden furniture floor models. Open drawers, sit in chairs, and inspect wear patterns. If you notice existing issues, ask your salesperson to show you something else.

Understanding furniture vocabulary and being able to spot high-end options might help you to buy pieces that you will love for years to come. Read more about this topic by visiting a local dealer's website.

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