I’m no expert on spotting high-quality furniture that lasts. So, I asked the craftsmen over at AmishFurnitureFactory.com to share some pro tips with us on how to spot solid heirloom-quality furniture. -Don
An Unsponsored Guest Post by: AmishFurnitureFactory.com
Your furniture has a major impact not only on your comfort but also your efficiency and overall health. It’s often a challenge to find a long-lasting piece that supports, improves and suits your lifestyle while still suiting the room where you intend to put it.
High-quality furniture doesn’t just last a long time, they are the centerpieces of a well-designed room that delivers a fantastic and satisfying visual impression both for you and anyone who visits your home.
To be a well-informed buyer, here are some of the things you should have in mind while shopping for high-quality furniture:
#1 – Durable Construction
Obviously this is the most important factor when evaluating high-quality furniture. One way to assess the durability of a specific piece is to study the materials used in constructing it. Amish furniture, for instance, is almost entirely made of premium solid woods. Check the weight of the pieces by lifting on them. Solid woods are physically much heavier than the typical particleboard pieces found at Walmart or IKEA.
Look at the unfinished underside or inside of a piece to verify that solid wood grain is present-not just particleboard and veneers.
Aside from being constructed from premium strong materials, the various parts of the furniture should feature very solid joints without any play or cracks at all. For instance, bookcases should not twist or sway when pushed or moved.
#2 – Solid Structural Integrity
Spend some time looking into the structural integrity of the piece of furniture. Look inside the drawers for solid wood or metal sliders, no plastic!
Also, pay close attention to the support structure and internal framing. A solid frame is foundational to a furniture item’s ability to endure heavy and serious use.
Have a close look at the hardware. Make sure that the nobs and handles are made of solid metal -no plastics or cheap coatings that will wear off.
Expect stiff structural stability. The piece should be tight with no swaying or twisting in the joints when lifted from one end or moved.
While funky modern designs may be eye-catching they quickly become passé and their edgy looks often sacrifice structural integrity and practicality.
#3 – Classic/Timeless Design
While you don’t need to avoid trends altogether, do ask yourself if a piece of furniture will look stupid and outdated 20 years from now.
Focus more on pieces that showcase a long-term timeless class. Leave the trendy parts for paint colors, accents and other less permanent accessories in a room. Find furniture items that are designed with enduring aesthetics.
This is why Amish furniture is so sought after; their solid wood designs are understated and luxurious while carrying a timeless appeal.
Due to the classic design of Amish-furniture and their ability to adapt to changes, altering the feel and look of a specific room will be straightforward and affordable.
You can change your lighting, color scheme, and artwork while still having an assurance that the piece of furniture present in your home can adapt to or blend with it.
Check whether the size of the furniture is relative to your needs and the size of the room where you intend to use it.
#4 – Green and Environmentally
As much as possible, go for environmentally-friendly furniture items. By purchasing durable furniture you are already significantly reducing waste in landfills.
The furniture collection in the Amish community is mostly earth-centered. The makers and craftsmen here have respect for the natural materials that they use.
Most of them also make it a point to use hardwood lumber that grows in forests that are sustainably managed. The materials are domestically grown and responsibly harvested, thereby protecting the environment and preserving its steady supply.
Furthermore, choosing this type of furniture is also advantageous for those who are concerned about the environment because they don’t use materials containing formaldehyde. Instead, they are finished, painted, and stained with products that have low VOC. Investing in green furniture is also a big help if you want to protect your own health and exposure to chemicals.
#5 – High-Quality Finishes
A high-quality finish should be able to handle daily use and abuse. True heirloom-quality furniture has very robust finishes designed to last from one generation to another.
Avoid items finished with basic lacquers as much as possible because these are not usually waterproof.
The standard finish used in solid fine wood furniture is called catalyzed conversion varnish.
This kind of varnish is more costly and requires extra time and care to apply cure compared to lacquer, but it is much more durable and can easily last for several generations.
Once this varnish cures completely, expect the furniture to be resistant to low heat, moisture, and various household cleaners.
Scrutinize the furniture’s finish by letting your hand run over it. Feel it so you will know if there are any blemishes or flaws. You will instantly know that the finish is great if it feels pleasing and smooth to the touch. Also, take note that while distressed furniture often has texture, it should still not come with rough patches.
#6 – Types of Wood
Wooden furniture can usually be placed into three basic categories:
Composite Wood / Particleboard
Composite wood or particleboard pieces are often constructed from combining resin, plastics, and wood pulp. Basically, this category consists of scraps in the furniture industry. It is the least expensive out of the three mentioned categories. It looks decently good but it is not as long-lasting as the others.
Veneered woods can come in a huge range of qualities. Some are junk and others are actually quite good. Generally speaking, it’s the inexpensive core of veneer furniture that contributes to a lower price point compared to furniture pieces made of wood.
Solid wood is generally more expensive than the other wood categories mentioned. However, it is a great choice because it looks great, is durable, and tends to have a timeless appeal. You may also want to choose a higher quality veneer, which is often characterized by its inexpensive wood base that has a few thin layers of wood as coverings.
If you are interested in a specific materials (hardwood, for instance), then make sure that you study everything you should know about hardwood or the specific material you have in mind.
#7 – Heavy, Sturdy Legs
Sturdy legs are really key elements especially when investing in tables, chairs or sofa.
Ensure that the legs are not only heavy and made of wood but also jointed to the chair or sofa frame instead of nailed.
Avoid those that have metal, rubber, or plastic legs. Aside from being unappealing, these elements tend to tear up the floors and won’t hold up to heavy use.
If you are going to invest over a thousand dollars in a sofa, look for one with a fifth leg integrated into the middle span. This fifth leg adds significant additional support that cheaper sofas and couches don’t have.
#8 – Ease of Care and Maintenance
High-quality furniture items often use simple structures and hardy finishes which makes care and maintenance quite easy.
Cleaning and care of custom-made furniture, like the ones from the Amish community, isn’t taxing at all. Cleaning usually just involves simple dusting and occasional polishing.
So, find out which options are easiest to manage and clean so you won’t end up getting an item that is time-consuming and requires a lot of effort to care for.
Check the care, cleaning, and maintenance sections provided by the manufacturer in its product description/details so you will have an idea about how you can look after the items in the future.
#9 – Hidden Compartments
Hidden compartments are definitely a cool added features that’s often found in heirloom furniture. Many Amish craftsmen, in particular, make a point of adding secret compartments to their furniture pieces-no-doubt a heritage from the cash-only society they live in.
Hidden spaces like these are really handy for valuables and boost the functionality of your chosen pieces.
For instance, the Amish-made Adrianna nightstand has a lockable slide top that reveals a hidden stash for valuables or weapons. It also can be ordered with an onboard nightlight and power bar.
Typically, you’ll find these false bottoms and concealed drawers in Amish desks, clothes chests and night tables.
#10 – A Solid Warranty
High-quality furniture pieces can last over a century. That’s why reputable furniture manufacturers of this caliber don’t break a sweat when backing up their products with hefty warranties.
Lower-end manufacturers only offer warranties on their pieces for a year or two. In most cases, these warranties only cover cracking and splitting on the item within that period.
If possible, look for manufacturers who provide at least a 5-year warranty. You can even go so far as to find those who offer a lifetime guarantee and warranty on their products. Going for this route will also provide you with peace of mind.
Also, find out if what the company offers is a retailer’s or a manufacturer’s warranty. You’ll want a true-blue manufacturer’s warranty.
Be extra careful on sales contracts with small printed statements at the bottom saying “only to the original address”. Many manufacturers use this to wiggle out of their obligations. They will not cover a warranty claim if you eventually move the furniture to a new home.
So, make sure that you carefully study the fine print on the terms of the warranty. This will prevent any unwanted surprises if the time comes that you need its coverage.
Shopping for high-quality furniture is possible if you are aware of the specific qualities and features that you have to look for in a specific item.
Basically, if you want durable timeless furniture that will last for a lifetime then get the word “IKEA” out of your mind.
You really do get what you pay for.
So be prepared to pay extra. Save up if you must, but you won’t regret stepping up to heavier solid wood pieces made by skilled craftsmen such as the Amish. They’ve have been perfecting their trade for centuries and know what they are doing.
Aside from the top ten things that you have to look for in high-quality furniture mentioned earlier, it is also advisable to seriously consider personal taste in comfort. After all, Buying high-quality furniture like this is like entering a longterm relationship, so select pieces that absolutely love and will happy to live with for a long time.
Furthermore, just because it’s durable doesn’t mean its comfortable. I mean, do you really want to live with an uncomfortable dining room chair for the rest of your life?
By reminding yourself of these factors, you’ll be able to find truly high-quality pieces you’ll really love for a lifetime. One day you’ll even be able to pass them on to your kids.
P.S. Include them in your will so your kids don’t fight over them when you’re dead!
For more guides and info on super durable product check out this post.