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19/07 Friday 05:15PM

sofa so good

Which sofa looks more comfortable? this one with the cowboy in it... or

this one with James Franco and two pussy cats in it?

All sofas are not made equal.  From the outside, all sofas may look good enough to sit on but not all them will hold up well over time from regular usage. So when shopping for a settee/ sofa/ couch that will give you lasting value for your dollar, you should pay attention to a few areas.             text . Pauline Chan .

The frame - Look for a sturdy frame that is preferably made from hard wood.  Soft wood such as pine wood may warp or wobble after 5 years and frames made of particle board, plastic or metal may break or crack, so stay away from those. Legs should be part of the frame and held on by screws or pegs (dowels), not by just glue alone.

The joinery - How the frame is joined together is important. A sofa held together solely by staples, nails or glue is not good enough so look for joint connections by wooden dowels, double wooden dowels, wooden corner blocks or metal screws and brackets. You can ask the sales assistant for manufacturer information that comes on the accompanying tags or leaflets.

The springs- Most sofas have a pre-assembled set of snaking wires called serpentine springs under the cushioned part. They provide good support but if the metal is not heavy enough, they can sag over time and also press on the frame. High-ends sofas often come with 'eight-way hand-tied springs'. These are comfortable but rather expensive. You can feel the springs through the upholstery for a network that is firm and close together. Avoid sofas with no springs but a mesh or webbing because they are flimsy and can be uncomfortable.
The fillings - Some cushions are filled with polyurethane foam that is cheap and easy to care for but if you want durability, go for the hard, high-density foam rather than the softer, low-density ones which deteriorates faster with constant use. High-resilient foam is slightly more expensive but more comfortable and last longer. There are other types of fillings available: Goose down mixed with feathers - plump but pricey and need high maintenance as the cushions needs frequent fluffing; down-polyfibre blend is cheaper but flattens fast; goose/ duck feather mix is comfy but they can clump together; polyester fibre is inexpensive but flattens quickly.

The textiles - The surface that receives the most contact day after day should be of durable fabric. Cotton and linen (choose linen with a tight weave to avoid snagging) is most popular but not stain-resistant. You can have them treated for stain resistance but even then, they are not as easy to clean or as durable as  synthetic microfibre, which is stain-resistant.

Blends of natural and synthetic fibres tend to come off in flakes in over time.  Silk has a beautiful sheen and lends an air of elegance but they are fragile. Wool and leather are strong and very durable but are more expensive and fabrics with patterns woven in tend to wear better than those with printed patterns.

After considering all that, remember 3 more things: How much space do you have? Avoid large pieces that will look incongruous in a small space. How many people will you need to seat? Consider how often you will have people trekking through your living room. Finally, will your chosen sofa fit through your door? That one needs no further explanation.

After you get your dream sofa through the door, you now need to know some simple ways of caring for it:
Use an upholstery brush to remove dirt and dust from fabric surfaces.  If you have leather materials, use a slightly damp cloth to clean and use a specialist cleaning kit every six months to clean and protect. Rotate cushions regularly to help maintain the shape.  Fibre cushions require regular plumping, preferably after each use. Whatever the material, keep your sofa away from strong sunlight otherwise the leather will crack and fabric will fade.

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