Furniture—we all need it. It helps provide utility, improves home décor, and becomes part of our daily lives. Shopping for furniture can be a headache, and knowing a few key points can help keep you under budget, ahead of the curve, and satisfied with your purchase. Whether you’re shopping for the best furniture brands available or looking to make a bargain buy: these are the mistakes to avoid.
American Made is Better
Made in America is more than just a patriot statement. It’s a certifiable approach to manufacturing that lets consumers know from where their products originate. Don’t get it wrong; there are a lot of benefits to buying American-made furniture. It helps assure that fair labor practices are being used, helps boost the US economy through supporting local jobs, but that’s about it.
Made-in-America furniture has an assumed superiority in the minds of many consumers. Beyond supporting the local economy, there’s just not that many measurable benefits. Let’s make the case: consider buying imported furniture sold by an American furniture brand. The furniture is still manufactured to the quality specs of the company, the revenue from sales still supports US-based jobs, and you can still rest comfortably knowing you bought from a US-based business.
Imported furniture isn’t High Quality
Most furniture comes from all over the world, whether you realize it or not. Artisan stones are often sourced from Italy, Mexico, or South America. The solid woods used in veneered furniture—rubberwood, for example—are sourced from Asian countries. Veneers may be sourced from anywhere, depending on the desired look of the furniture, and that’s just scraping the surface.
Furniture manufacturing is an international endeavor of the highest degree. The top-rated furniture brands in the world realize this and take advantage of regionally available materials, design trends, and technology. The term “imported” usually means “outsourced manufacturing” when it comes to furniture. Significant brands like Hooker Furniture, Universal Furniture, and even Ashley Home Goods all outsource their manufacturing to countries where labor is cheap.
As with most industries, different brands are known for different quality in their product lines. Furniture brands are no different, though it can be said they are less known by most. That’s to say, many retailers like Wayfair.com describe shoppers first looking to the appearance and price of furniture and regarding the brand as an afterthought.
Many of the best furniture stores advertise by brand and have brand-specific promotions. In such cases, it’s accessible to an idea about which brands offer the best furniture by paying attention to the price. After all, higher quality furniture brands tend to be more expensive. Knowing which brands are higher quality beforehand can help you spot better sales, worth-while clearance items, and find bargains at local used furniture stores.
Buying Online is Bad
Furniture is usually a big-ticket item. A typical bedroom collection can cost anywhere from $800-$5000 depending on the desired quality. Even at the low-end, that’s a chunk of change. When making large purchases, it can feel daunting to consider buying an item sight-unseen. After all, you could buy a very decent used car for $5,000, but you wouldn’t do so without test driving it first, right?
Buying furniture online requires one to make a leap of faith. Getting back to brand quality—knowing which furniture brands offer quality construction can help. Another huge helper here is knowing where to buy furniture online. Websites like WayFair.com have built their entire brand around their customer service. Free shipping, free returns, robust warranties—these are just a few ways that online furniture stores help mitigate the risk of buying big-ticket items without first being able to touch them. Consumers are quickly recognizing the benefits of shopping online for furniture.
Solid Wood is Better
Solid wood furniture is synonymous with quality, but not always enough so to justify the increased pricing. The true benefits of solid wood furniture are subjective and sometimes not even applicable. For example, one benefit of solid wood over veneered fiberboard designs is the ability to sand and re-finish multiple times. For veneered furniture, one can quickly run out of veneer when sanding! Most people aren’t likely to refinish their furniture—let along enough to worry about breaking through the veneer.
Solid wood comes with a perception of higher quality—it certainly comes with a higher price tag—and that’s precisely what many people want. Solid wood designs also afford specific furniture manufacturing techniques that particle board doesn’t allow. Things like mortise and tendon joinery, rounded edges, and things like structural testing are only possible in the realm of solid wood. If that’s what you’re after, solid wood is a great choice. Don’t let yourself break your budget just for the solid wood sales pitch, though.
Buying furniture is no casual task. The price tags can be scary, availability is spotty, and most local stores have so few duplicates that there’s an unfair urgency to buy a piece you like. The considerations listed here can help to navigate the furniture market better, recognize deals, and avoid common gimmicks that convince consumers to overspend.