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Sofas

March 9, 2016

Cliff Sofa from ANTIDIVA

The comfort of a sofa is determined by a few factors such as the depth of the seat and the angle of the back and it tends to be a very subjective matter and so can really only be determined by sitting in the actual model, which is not always possible in Ireland.

Tip: Deep or soft sofas can be very difficult for elderly people to get out of and women in short skirts to use gracefully.

Sofa can have loose back and/or seat cushions and which you go for all depends on the aesthetic you prefer. Sofas with fitted cushions tend to have a more formal aesthetic than those with loose cushions. Low backed sofas are less imposing in a small space but as you might imagine they offer less back support.

Traditional sofa arm styles include rolled, English or straight parsons. Sofas without arms will look more formal than those with low or standard arms.

Sofa’s can be skirted sofa or with exposed legs. Exposed legs are currently more fashionable and sofas with them will look lighter than those with skirts. Exposed legs come in a variety of styles and finishes. If your preference is for timber legs check that the legs are double-dowled, glued and screwed into the frame for durability.

Tip: When choosing a sofas consider the route that your new sofa it is going to travel to get to its final destination. It may be wise to opt for a modular sofa when choosing one for a first floor room.

Sofas are either 2 seater or 3 seater. A two-seater is typically 1500mm – 2000mm long and a three seater is typically 2000mm and 2500mm.

Forms of Construction
Top-end sofas have screw-fixed marine plywood or kiln-dried hardwood carcasses whereas low-end sofas either have a staple-fixed softwood, chipboard or low-quality plywood carcass. The most durable form of joint is one that is glued and screwed. The best quality sofas have frames that echo the final shape of the sofa. Sofas that don’t have their final shape achieved using filler material, which will flatten over time.

Tip: Avoid placing a sofa with a softwood frame near a window or radiator as the changes in temperature may warp the frame.

The seat construction will also vary depending on the cost of the sofa. It can either be composed of a series of interwoven straps stapled to the frame or attached via small helical springs, wooden or metal slats, or with springs. There are different ways that springs can be used to make the deck of a sofa or arm-chair. In less expensive furniture sinuous or zig-zag springs are used while more expensive sofas use either ‘drop-in’ coil springs encased in a lightweight material or 8-way tied springs.

The 8-way tied springs system is thought to be the most durable and most comfortable form of seat construction available and so is typically seen in the best type of sofa. With this system nylon, jute or polyester straps are stapled to the timber frame to give a stable webbed base onto which each spring is tacked down either with clips or thread. Each spring is then tied with poly-twine to its neighbor and a manufacturer can vary a seat’s firmness by varying the height at which the springs are tied.

Filling Material
The filling used in cushions and pillows is important to the overall feel and look of a sofa. Depending on the price point of the sofa cushions can be filled with down, hair, polyester or foam. Down is the most expensive filling option but it gives a wonderfully soft and luxurious feel to finished cushions. The firmest cushion filler of all is hair, whether it is the traditionally used horsehair or the more contemporary hogs or cattle hair. Fluffy polyester comes in a variety of thickness and can be used on its own or as wrapped around foam to give a smooth, rounded cushion. Polyurethane foam comes in different densities for difference degrees of firmness. In order of firmness, these include soft, medium, super resilient (SR), firm, extra firm and high resilience (HR).

Tip: All fillings will compact over time and loose fillings will need regular fluffing to keep them looking their best.

Padding
Padding is the material that goes on directly under your upholstery fabric. Its function is to fill out and firm up the contours of the sofa or armchair so that the fabric sits smoothly without wrinkles or puckers. Cotton and felt padding is considered the most durable form of padding and comes in different grades and thickness depending on the price point and style of the sofa.  Mass-produced sofas typically employ polyester fibrefill as the padding material.

Upholstery Options
Most store-bought sofas only come in a limited range of finishes but if you’re buying through a designer or large retailer you will be able to supply your own material to upholstery the sofa in. The short-hand for this option is called (COM or customer’s own material).

Leather is very serviceable as it can be wiped clean but it can feel uncomfortable against bare skin. Leather is graded by size, location and severity of blemishes. Top-grain leather comes from the outer surface of the hide and is very durable whereas split-grain leather is taken from the inner surfaces and is much weaker. Aniline leather, is a superbly soft leather that has been soaked in aniline dye while semi-aniline leathers have had a small amount of pigment added to them which gives them better protection against staining and fading. Pigmented leathers are the least expensive but due to their stiffness but they tend to be more stain and scuff resistant

A suede sofa is the height of luxury but it will show up wear much more easily than other upholstery options and is susceptible to staining by oils.

All upholstery fabrics are graded by how many rubs they can take before wearing out. Naturally the higher the rub count the more durable the fabric is. As a rule only fabric over 40,000 rubs is suitable for commercial installations.

Darker colours will show up pale dirt while light colours will show up dark dirt so for maximum dirt concealment go for a mid-tone colour. Plain fabrics will show up more dirt than patterned fabrics but large patterns will make the sofa appear larger in a space and typically dates the piece quicker.

Fabric can be treated with a soil resistant coating but this is typically only a surface treatment and will wear off over time.

Fabric with a nap, such as velvets and corduroys look different in different light and so will show where they’ve been sat on.

Tip: In general dark sofas will appear visually heavier than pale sofas but it will ultimately depend on the colour of the surrounding finishes and furniture.

Tip: If you can’t find out a fabric’s rub-count a good rule of thumb is the tighter the weave, the longer the wear.

Tip: Patterns woven into a fabric won’t rub off in the way that printed patterns will.

Tip: One of the signs of a well-made patterned sofas are well matched upholstery seams.

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