a furniture piece or set of pieces is a wonderful way to breathe
new life into an old piece. However, there are many considerations
that should be taken when deciding whether to upholster a
piece. First and foremost, the construction of the piece must
be examined. This can be difficult because the elements that
matter are hidden beneath the fabric, but it is important
that you look beyond the covering and get a solid idea of
what you’re dealing with.
The frame of a piece of furniture is its skeleton and will
determine how long lasting a piece is. The type of wood used
to build the frame affects the longevity of the frame greatly.
Soft wood is not as sturdy as hard wood. Oak, alder, and other
hard woods are optimal for furniture construction. Furniture
must also be assembled so that the frame is sturdy and will
withstand the pressure of time and use. This means proper
joints, blocking, and doweling. Joints are just like they
sound – the parts of the piece where wood comes together
with other wood. Blocking is additional pieces of wood placed
diagonally or behind joints to reinforce them. Doweling is
when two dowels are secured into the wood with drilling, hammering,
and glue to further reinforce the frame.
A solid frame will be constructed of a hard wood like oak
or alder and will be kiln-dried, which removes excess moisture
and sap from the wood. Most well constructed frames will be
joined, blocked, and doweled for support. A spring system
is then installed to a furniture piece for ease of use and
comfort in seating. Standard springs are affordable and give
good support. Standard springs are firm and move up and down
when sat upon or having weight lifted. Another type of spring
is the sinuous spring, which is made of heavy-gauge steel.
These springs take an “S” shape. These are not
optimal for a furniture piece and are a sign of poor construction.
Lastly, eight-way hand-tied springs are an option. These springs
can only be installed by hand and therefore are an expensive
endeavor. They have a vast range of motion, moving eight different
directions, and are therefore considered the most comfortable
Once springs are in place a pad will be placed over them.
Next, the actual furniture piece is filled with either foam
or feathers. Foam is highly resilient and stands the test
of time well. Feather or down fillings are extremely comfortable
and offer softness that many consumers find attractive. Once
filled, cushions are covered with either leather of fabric.
Tightly woven fibers last the longest and leather is also
Depending on what covering a piece has, care for the piece
will e different. Vacuuming, treating spots and stains, protecting
against stains, and removing slipcovers for washing are all
common processes for protecting the longevity of a piece.
Further, it’s a good idea to keep a piece out of direct
sunlight, as even the most resilient fabrics will fade over
time if left in the sun.
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