10 Tips for Buying a New Couch


Are you in the market for a new couch? Make sure you check out these tips before buying one.

10. Make Sure it Has a Sturdy Frame

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Avoid soft woods like pine. Yes, they’re less expensive, but they’ll likely wobble or warp in a few years. Also, avoid frames made of metal, plastic or particleboard. These types of frames can also warp. They might crack, too. Hardwoods like oak and ash are your best bet. These frames are far more durable.

Here are a couple of ways you can test the frame:

Sit down on one side of the couch, near the arm. If it creaks, the frame is no good.


Lift one front corner or leg of the couch at least six inches off the floor. The other front leg should rise, too. If it doesn’t, the frame is weak.

9. Check the Joints and Springs

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For a solidly constructed couch, you’ll want joints that are connected by wooden dowels, double wooden dowels, mortise-and-tenon, tongue-in-groove construction, wooden corner blocks, or metal screws and brackets. Avoid buying a sofa with joints that are solely stapled, nailed or glued together.

To test the springs, feel for them through the upholstery. Lift the cushions and press down on the seat. The springs should be firm, close together, and evenly spaced. You can also sit down firmly on a corner or outer edge of the couch. If it squeaks, creaks or makes any other out-of-the-ordinary sound, the springs are likely incorrectly placed or they’re hitting the frame, this is a definite no no.

8. Choose a Durable Fabric

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This is especially important if you have kids or pets, or if you plan on napping or drinking wine on your new couch. So, what’s the best upholstery option? Well, that depends on who you ask. Kathleen Huddy, the GH Research Institute’s textiles, paper and plastics director, recommends microfiber. This synthetic fabric, made mostly of polyester and sometimes nylon, mimics most fabrics and is stain resistant. Hilary Robertson, antiques buyer and interior stylist, recommends fabrics that are heavy and tightly woven, like velvet and mohair. Velvet is very durable, but mohair would be your best investment, she said in an article on Oprah.com. Mohair is woven from goats’ hair and is long-lasting and crease-resistant.

Lastly, if your budget allows, leather and wool are strong fabrics as well.

7. Check the Cushions

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You may be tempted to go with softer foam, but, according to Good Housekeeping magazine, softer, low-density foam will deteriorate quickly with daily use. High-resilient foam is long-lasting and it’s more comfortable than high-density foam, which often feels hard. It’s also slightly more expensive. Your best bet? High-resilient foam in a layer of goose down or conventional foam wrapped in polyester batting.

Test the cushions in the showroom. Sit down on the couch for at least ten minutes. When you stand back up, make sure the cushions return to their original form.
Ask how the foam was made. Make sure there were no flame retardants used in the making of the couch. Certain states have actually banned the use of harmful flame retardants. Some manufacturers have stopped using them. These include IKEA, Crate and Barrel, and La-Z-Boy.

6. Purchase an Extended Warranty

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While your couch will likely have a warranty that covers defects and things of that nature, it may be wise to invest in an extended warranty as well. Elizabeth Licata, contributing writer for Kitchn.com, purchased one with her new couch. According to Licata, the saleswoman told her that “with the extended warranty, we’ll fix or replace it if anything happens to it in five years,” including any damages she or her husband caused. This included spills and tears. Of course, not all warranties are the same, so you’ll need to check the specifics before buying one.

5. Consider the Color

Color Swatches
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The color of your couch should depend on your own personal preferences, of course, but it should also match your lifestyle. If you plan on eating and drinking on your couch, then it’s probably a good idea to forget about choosing a white sofa. With that said, you don’t want to end up choosing a color you’ll be unhappy with when you get it home. Color swatches can be helpful, but only to a certain degree. When you get your couch home, it’ll most likely be brighter or darker than you thought, Susana Simonpietri, interior design expert, said in an article on Oprah.com. “Whites, off-whites, light taupes and grays” always work, she added. If you want to go with bold colors, you can always accent with patterned pillows or colorful rugs and lampshades, she said.

4. Make Sure it’s the Right Size

Tape Measure
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You’ll need to measure your space to make sure you get a couch that’s just the right size. You’ll need to take into account other factors as well, like walkways and door frames. If your doors or stairs are narrow, you’ll need to get a couch with removable legs. “If you have an area rug you love, make sure to take its size into consideration: Either the feet of the sofa should be entirely on the rug, or all furniture should float around the rug,” Business Insider says.

Something else you’ll want to take into consideration when measuring your couch is your own height. “Your physical height will dictate its depth: Taller people often prefer deeper sofas and shorter people prefer shallower,” an article in The Washington Post said.

3. Shop Online AND In-Store

Shopping With Credit Card
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If you plan on buying your couch online, you should still try it out at a local retail store, if possible. If you don’t find the one you want, look for one that’s a close match and test it out. Just because you like it online doesn’t mean you’ll like it when you see it in person.

Here are some tips if you’re considering purchasing your sofa online:
-Find inspiration on sites like Pinterest, design blogs, and HGTV.com.
-Check product descriptions to make sure the couch is strong and durable. Key words and phrases to look for are “kiln-dried hardwood frame,” “mortise and tenon joinery,” and “corner blocked for stability.” Also, check for the type of filling used in the cushions. As we mentioned before, high-resilient foam in a layer of goose down or conventional foam wrapped in polyester batting are good options.
-Get color swatches before completing your order. Most online furniture companies offer them for free.
-Find out what the delivery timeline and charges will be. Also, find out about return options, including who’ll be responsible for return shipping charges.

2. Look for Sales and Discounts

Sale Hang Tags
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Holidays like Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Labor Day are good times to find sales and discounts, interior designer Shelly Lynch-Sparks with Homepolish said in an article on Oprah.com. You can catch promotions for as much as 30 percent off. “These pieces can be found right on the showroom floor. Or in the sale or ‘as is’ section,” Lynch-Sparks added.

Did you know that if you sign up for furniture store email newsletters, you might just be able to snag a good deal then as well? In fact, many of them offer a discount just for signing up, according to HGTV. Plus, they’re likely to send additional sales promotions to your inbox as well. And, you can always cancel your newsletter subscriptions whenever you like, so what have you got to lose?

1. Buy it at Just the Right Time

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According to Oprah.com, Patricia Bowling, vice president of communications at the American Home Furnishings Alliance, said the best months to buy upholstered furniture are January, February, July and, August–when stores clean out their inventory to make room for new furniture. “Room and Board is known for great floor discounts during this time,” Lynch-Sparks said in an article on Oprah.com.


Do you have any couch-buying tips you’d like to share with us? Feel free to do so in the comments below. Thanks for reading!