When purchasing Upholstery, the selection process can seem overwhelming. You have a massive choice of styles, materials and prices. It can be tempting to settle for something at a good price and that feels comfortable after only a very short trial.
It is particularly important that you don’t be seduced by a flash tv advert and interest free credit, you should fully consider the suitability, strength, durability and the maintenance requirements of your chosen furniture.
Here at Clayton’s we are Upholstery specialists and we can explain how a sofa is constructed, talk you through the various fillings, help choose a cover or colour as well as guide you in how to choose a sofa to suit the demands of your individual home environment.
When you begin looking for your new sofa, you should consider the following questions to enable you to make the right choice:-
Do you have children or pets?
Are you a couch potato? Even sitting or laying down in the same chair regularly can cause a lot of wear on the fabric and softening of interiors.
Do you slouch? You may prefer the casual, informal feel and look of fibre cushions, check out our recliner models.
Do you need head support? Look at our high backed models.
What colour schemes do you have in mind? Start with the sofa and make this the focal point of the room, you can then use accessories to pick out colours featured on the sofa.
Is it like what you have already, make note of what you do like about your existing sofa, and what you don’t like, this will help make sure you get the right kind of sofa!
Will It Fit?
See Clayton’s Free Measuring Guide, for advise on how to measure up for your new furniture. Click here for our furniture measuring guide
A good quality frame is vitally important to the longevity of your furniture. We only select sofas which feature quality durable frames at their core. It is usual for the stress areas of the frames we use to be manufactured from selected hardwoods with shape forming pieces (non load bearing) being manufactured from laminated ply and other suitable materials.
Frames are either glued, screwed and dowelled or glued and locked into place with heavy duty frame fixings for strength and durability. These methods of construction . allows them to withstand the demands of everyday life in the home, while also allowing the variation in shape so that different styles can be created.
Companies who sell purely on the lowest price will cut costs as much as possible and use inferior fast grown softwoods on load bearing areas, and again purely for cost purposes they will de-spec the frame used, obviously, less timber in a frame means less cost, but it also means a lot less strength.
Once the frame has been constructed, it then has the support for the seating area added to it. While some sofas have traditional springs to form the seating platform, others may use webbing or tensile no-sag steel springs, suspended across the frame from front to back. Firmer sofas will have more rigid supports than softer sitting models. Similar methods are used in the upright back sections – webbing or steel springs suspended from the top to the bottom. To provide the sofa with a comfortable sit, some models feature a sprung edge or front rail. As you would expect, this also makes sofas more durable for everyday use.
The combination and types of cushions and fillings used in a sofa will have a dramatic effect upon the overall ’sit’ and comfort levels you experience.
The all important ‘comfort factor’ is added by the fillings. There are 3 main types of filling used:
Foam seat sofas normally feel the firmest when you first sit down, and will return to the same shape when you stand up again. They provide a greater uniformity in appearance, associated with the more traditional sofa designs. The biggest benefit of foam interiors is that the density of the foam will affect the firmness of the sit – the denser the foam the firmer the sit. Foam cushions sometimes have a polyester fibre ‘wrap’ to improve surface comfort. It is important to note that where possible foams should be turned regularly to even out their use, especially if a ‘favourite seat’ is used more often than others!
Fibre gives a ‘lived in’ casual and informal look. Fibre seat interiors are common in contemporary, casual looking designs, fibre cushions are usually filled with specially developed polyester. Sofas with fibre cushions are usually medium to soft in ‘sit’,. Fibre seat cushions will require daily ‘plumping’ and maintenance to help them to keep their shape. Fibre cushions are great for that lived in feel, but they will flatten over time, depending upon usage levels.
This is the most luxurious and one of the most expensive fillings for cushions. Like fibre cushions, the feathers are contained in a fabric bag and need to be plumped daily to maintain their appearance. Increasingly, cushions with feather filling are being used on part of a sofa, such as a scatter cushion, while the more common foam and fibre may be used elsewhere. If you do select feather seat interiors, be prepared, as these require the highest amount of maintenance of any sofa filling. The feathers will settle with usage and will need daily plumping to increase ‘loft’ and prevent the feathers matting down.
It is usually the cover on your new sofa that attracts you to it in the first place, not only do you have to consider the colour, but you should make sure that you pick the cover type best suited to your needs. There are a variety of different cover choices, from plain fabric through to sumptuous leathers, as well as models which combine the two.
We’ve prepared the following summary of the different cover choices, to help you.
Leather Or Hide:
Leather is now more popular than ever before as hide has become affordable and widely available. Its massive popularity is also thanks to the fact that leather is durable, comfortable and the fact that leather improves with time, softening and subtly changing in appearance and feel.
We have put together a comprehensive guide which describes the different types of leather and the characteristics of each type.
There are a huge variety of fabrics available on the market today.. You can go for a look that is cool and contemporary or traditional and elegant, the look changes by altering the fabrics. Fabrics help make your sofa look warm and inviting, many people still prefer the warmth of nice fabric. There are typically two types of fabric sofa model – fixed cover and loose cover.
As the terminology implies, fixed cover sofas have a fabric cover which is fixed to the frame. Please note however that although cushion covers may be removable, they should not be washed, this is purely down to ease of manufacture. Fixed cover sofas can be professionally cleaned, but please refer to the Caring for your Upholstery section of this website.
Sofas with fixed covers usually offer a wider choice of fabrics, from hard wearing synthetics to soft velvets. There will also be a wider choice of styles available in fixed covers, as their design means they can be shaped with more detail than on a loose cover model.
When you can remove the complete covers of a sofa for cleaning, the sofa is referred to as loose cover model. The covers can be either washed or dry cleaned, although all sections of the sofa should be cleaned at the same time as colours can sometimes fade – this is quite normal and is not a manufacturing fault. You should also only use detergents which do not contain bleaching agents or optical brightners..
It is common for the fabrics which are used on loose cover sofas to be made from 100% cotton. You often have the option of purchasing a second set of covers, giving you the chance to have two different looks for your new sofa. Ie a light and dark set for summer or winter. The styling of loose cover models is normally informal, this is because the covers are not closely tailored and it has to be relatively simple to remove the covers. The downside to a cotton based fabric is that you loose some durability, man made fibres are the most durable when it comes to upholstery covers.
Chenilles & Velvets:
Chenilles are very popular fabrics and are one of the most common fabric covers used. They are usually durable and can be recognised by their ‘semi wooly’ texture, they feature a fabric ‘pile’. Velvets are very hard wearing, plush fabrics which have a cut pile.
As with all fabrics which have a pile on them, they can be subject to pressure marking during use. Light reflection may highlight this occurrence and this may appear as light and dark patches on the material. This usually occurs where the fabric has been crushed and is termed ‘shading’, ‘seating’ or ‘pile reversal’. This is not a fabric fault and will not detract in any way from the wearing properties of the fabric. Regular maintenance such as light brushing will help to lift the pile. We recommend that cushions are rotated regularly to allow fabrics to recover and to give the furniture a more even appearance.
As the name suggests, print fabrics are usually constructed using a base cloth made of cotton or linen union and have a design which is literally printed onto them. High wear areas can be subject to fading and loss of colour over time as the colour is not an intrinsic part of the yarn, it is a process added after the backing cloth is made. Usually complicated, multicoloured or floral designs tend to be printed. Cushions should be turned regularly to even wear and high wear areas such as the fronts of arms should be protected using arm caps.
Woven fabrics can be plain or patterned. The pattern is created during the weaving process. Woven fabrics are more susceptible to snags and pulls, it is important to keep pets claws well away from this type of covering.
Microfibres Or Flocks:
This type of fabric is usually incredibly hard wearing. It is made by a process of millions of individual electrically charged fibre particles being attracted onto a backing containing an adhesive which is then heat set. This gives the fabric a pile or nap. The overall effect of this type of fabric is that it has a suede appearance. It will usually have some inbuilt stain resistance, but must only be cleaned with water. Chemical and solvent cleaners would damage this type of fabric. As with all fabrics which contain a pile, micofibres are prone to shading and pressure marking.
Put Your Feet Up:
One of the biggest growth areas in furniture sales is the recliner or motion furniture market, adding a recliner action to your new sofa can provide the ultimate in relaxation and comfort. The recliner mechanisms are usually operated by small handles or latches,. These sofas and chairs are often a little taller than non-recliner versions, with some larger recliner sofas being delivered in sections for ease of delivery.
Many of the sofa models we display can be provided with recliner actions – some even offer electrically operated mechanisms to allow you to stop the recliner action at whatever position suits you, meaning that you can achieve your perfect comfort level.
In addition, many of our sofas now also have recliner options. At Clayton’s we believe that comfort and support are important and we have seen a huge increase in the popularity of motion furniture. We currently have many recliner chairs and recliner sofas on display for you to choose from in either leather or fabric. We always say that a recliner is the ultimate piece of furniture, its great to put your feet up after a long hard day or just relax when watching a movie.