Special Nonexistent Furniture

How to tell what a sofa feels like without sitting on it

The most important aspect of looking for a new sofa is whether or not it has the right level of comfort for you. It is, after all, going to be something you use daily, in a setting where you want to be able to relax and entertain guests. So how do you figure out if that sofa you saw online and loved is going to be right for you, when you can't test and feel it? We've got you covered.

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How to tell how springy a sofa is?

​When it comes to figuring out how much bounce and shape retention your sofa will have, sofa suspension is key. This means what type of system sits underneath the cushions to stop you from just sagging into a pile of feathers, whether that's springs, grids or webbing. These are the elements that will take one any structural stress and stop your cushions from becoming flat from ongoing wear.
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Eight-way hand-tied springs

Soft. Most time consuming and expensive technique.

The hourglass-shaped springs are hand-knotted and strapped to the seat frame, which does stop sagging and squeaking over time, but makes it a pricier option. 

Pocket coil springs

Medium. May lose spring over time and become unsupportive.

Similar to innerspring mattresses, pocket coil springs are individually wrapped in fabric and are often considered more durable than other options. Depending on how you like to sit on the sofa though, individual springs may bear more weight and lead to overall seat deforming.
 
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Sinuous (S-shaped) springs

Medium. More affordable option and durable.

Heavy-gauge steel wires are bent into continuous S-shaped lines running from the front to back of the sofa frame, reinforced by horizontal metal tie rods. 

Wire grids

Firm. Least common and most noisy.

Similar to how a trampoline is attached to its frame, this system uses wire grids that are attached to the frame at the sides with springs. The metal-on-metal factor means that squeaking can be an issue.

Polypropylene-webbing

Firm. Strong and silent with even distribution.

Fabric or elastic straps are weaved into a grid to form a platform above the frame for the cushions to sit on. It's a more affordable and lightweight option, but as the straps need to have a certain amount of tension to support bodies, there isn't as much give as spring-based systems. 

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How to tell how soft a sofa is?

Just like picking out the right pillow for the softest sleep, you want to make sure you understand the different types of cushion fill and how much they're likely to let you sink in.
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Down

Soft. Most expensive option and needs regular fluffing.

These cushions are either filled with 100% down or there will be a foam core encased in a down blend. The foam core style will have slightly more structure and firmness, while the 100% down option will be fluffy and airy but not so stable. You'll need to flip and fluff your down cushions frequently to keep the filling evenly distributed and prevent clumping. 

Polyester wrapped foam

Medium. Maintains shape and low maintenance.

This cushion filling consists of layers of high-resiliency foam in an open-cell structure, with polyester wrap and a tight-weave down-proof ticking surrounding the foam centre. The foam means it bounces straight back into shape and there's zero fluffing required for evenly distributed comfort. 
 
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Memory foam

Firm. Durable but least common option.

Memory foam is quite dense, meaning it is firm to the touch but it will give and mould to your body as you settle into your seat. It's usually a layer added for sofa beds, though some people do enjoy this form-fitting cushion filling for regular sofa use.

Innerspring core

Firm. Non-removable and bouncy.

As the name suggests, individual spring coils wrapped in a layer of foam are built directly into the frame of the sofa and then upholstered, meaning that these cushions are not removable. The coils do make this style of sofa quite springy and allows them to retain shape well, though overall durability depends on the gauge of steel and how well the springs are attached to the frame.

Need more sofa advice? Find out what you should look for when buying a sofa here.
Bridgette Sulicich 02 March, 2022

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