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Upholstery Buying Guide

UPHOLSTERY   DINING FURNITURE   BEDROOM FURNITURE   BEDS   FLOOR COVERING

Traditional Fabric Sofa
Sit back, relax and let us help you choose the right sofa.

Buying a new sofa is one of the most important furniture buying decisions and our experienced sales personnel can provide you with all the guidance you need. They can explain how a sofa is constructed, help choose a cover or colour as well as guide you in how to choose a sofa to suit the demands of your home environment.

Cover Options:

Choosing a cover for your sofa is perhaps the most important part of the selection process. There are a variety of different cover choices, from plain fabric through to beautiful leathers, as well as models which blend the two.

We’ve prepared the following summary of the different cover choices, to help you.


Fabrics



Perhaps the most traditional and popular, yet still the simplest cover, fabrics help make your sofa look warm and comforting. There are typically two types of fabric sofa model – fixed cover and loose cover.

Fixed 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. Fixed cover sofas can be 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.

Loose Cover:

When you can remove the covers of a sofa, the sofa is referred to as loose cover. The covers can be washed or dry cleaned to maintain their cleanliness, 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 fault.

Fabrics used on loose cover sofas are usually 100% cotton, and often additional sets of covers can be ordered, providing the option to have two different looks for your new sofa. The styling of loose cover models is normally more casual than a fixed cover model, simply because it has to be relatively simple to remove the covers.


Leathers (often referred to as ‘Hide’)



While leather is one of the oldest and most established natural materials, it is only in recent years that leather has become increasingly popular, in part due to increased availability and falling prices.

Leather’s popularity is due greatly to its durability – leather improves with time, softening and subtely changing in appearance and feel. As with fabrics, there are a number of different leathers used in modern sofas, and we have provided the following as a guide.

Corrected Grain Leather:

This is one of the most popular types of leather. The hides have their top surface processed to reduce and often remove minor imperfections. The leather then has colour applied to its top surface and is put through a high pressure roller to generate a leather grain type pattern. Corrected grain leather provides even colour and a matt finish. It is particularly hard wearing and easy to care for, and is often chosen for ‘high intensity’ use such as family homes.

Semi- Analine Leather:

Often offering a more subtle colour choice, production of semi-analine leather can involve using more than one dye colour. The finished leather is very soft to the touch, although there can be some variations in the colours used on different panels of a sofa and minor, naturally occurring imperfections may be evident. Semi-analine leathers can also sometimes be treated to provide a sheen or gloss to the surface, although care should be taken if they are to be used in family homes, as they are not as hard wearing as corrected grain leathers.

Analine Leather:

Very soft to the touch, and often displaying the unique natural features of leather, analine leather has little or no surface coating. As such, it is the most sumptuous yet least hard wearing of all hide the materials. Choose this leather with care and make sure it suits the intended environment.

Natural Leathers:

Aside from the three main types of leather used in sofas, there are some natural leathers used on some models that are slightly different. These include oiled and waxed leathers as well as Nubuck suede, all of which can offer a more relaxed and luxurious feel.

With all leathers, it is important to realise that natural characteristics, such as shade variations, scars and blemishes are characteristics that make leather the sought after and unique material that it is. If you want any further information on our leather sofa range, our sales personnel will be pleased to help.


Recliners & Motion Furniture



Increasingly popular, adding a recliner action to your new sofa can provide the ultimate in relaxation. The recliner mechanisms are usually operated by small handles, either just below the arm or alongside the main seat cushion. These sofas and chairs are often a little taller than non-recliner versions, with some larger recliner sofas being delivered in sections, so there may be additional joins between sections when compared to sofas without any recliner actions.

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 you want. In addition, some sofas now offer massage capabilities built into the frame, allowing you total comfort.


Sofa Construction



The construction of all sofas is fundamentally the same, although on most sofas the inner construction is hidden when compared to more traditional exterior framed sofas and chairs.

Sofa frames are constructed from a combination of hardwood and softwood timber and manmade materials, including plywood. This 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.

The frame 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 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.

Once the frame has been fitted with the support mechanisms, it is ready to have the ‘comfort’ factor added – the fillings. There are 3 main types of filling used:

Foam:

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.

Fibre:

Increasingly popular in more contemporary, casual looking designs, fibre cushions are usually filled with specially developed polyester. Sofas with fibre cushions are usually medium to soft in sit, largely dependent on how much filling is in each cushion. It is important to remember that cushions filled with fibre must be plumped daily to maintain their shape and recovery properties.

Feathers:

This is the most luxurious and indulgent filling 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.


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