Shopping for furniture: What you need to know before the purchase.
Christmas is just around the corner. Sales have started at all the furniture stores. If you’re thinking about buying furniture for someone for Christmas, then here’s are a few tips that you might want to keep in mind as you are shopping. It will be beneficial to have a little bit of insight so that salesmen with fast talk cannot drag you into a purchase that ends up as a mistake. One day soon I am going to do a blog where I take photos and compare quality but there’s not enough time for that this week.
1. “Solid wood” may sound synonymous with quality but it is also the source of inherent problems that we love in antiques but hate in new furniture. Manufacturers stop producing furniture from solid wood because of its inherent problems. Returns resultingfrom solid wood shrinking, cracking and warping weighs too heavy on their profit margins.
2. Some salespeople over use the term “Solid Wood”. There are a few things that you need to understand when this term is used. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard, Super compressed Wood Fiber just like cardboard) is also solid wood just is particleboard which is less used these days. These products are used for large panels such as sides and tops to minimize the issues mentioned above. Most problems with shrinking, swelling or cracking occur on panels that are wider than 12 inches. These products are more stable to atmospheric humidity but are notorious about swelling like a sponge when they get wet.
Table with grooves on top
3. A groove in a table top may look good but it is nothing but trouble because it will hold water (swelling), food, dirt and dust. It is super hard to clean. Stay away from buying a table with grooves in the top. More than likely will be the source of water damage occurring to the top.
Swollen MDF on top
4. If you are interested in some degree of quality, look for drawers with dovetails, this is the joint where the drawer sides joint the drawer front, wooden drawer runners and wood drawer sides and bottoms.
5. The signature appearance of cheap foreign made furniture is a very dark stain, a flat sheen finish and you can hardly see the wood grain. I can almost promise you that its crap furniture.
Dark Stain, no wood grain
6. If you buy furniture with a solid color/paint, I can almost promise you that it is made of poor quality so do not pay a lot of money for it. MDF or cheap wood put together with nails, as opposed to screws, are used in the construction. I have seen more of my customers buy very poor quality furniture like this than any other way. Manufacturers can hide a multitude of sin under paint and solid lacquers. It’s almost criminal.
7. In my opinion furniture that is sold in stores like Ashley’s or Costco in general are about the same quality. But at Costco you will have to put it together. Of course, Costco does not have as great a selection. A store such as Ethan Allen, does not deliver enough increase in quality to merit the price difference in most of their items. If you see a metal tag in the drawer instead of the “burned-in” Ethan Allen logo, then go shop at a discount store. You will be paying for the brand name “Ethan Allen” and not for the quality they are known for.