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Guide to Buying the Perfect Couch

Choosing the best buy for your money


Buying the perfect couch can be one of the biggest investments in time and money. Choosing a couch can be a very emotional experience. Often homeowners pick a couch purely on looks or price. Sofas picked this way are almost certain to disappoint in a couple of months when the homeowner discovers that spending time on the couch is like trying to be comfortable on a rock pile. If you want to be satisfied with your couch for years, take these six points into consideration when buying the perfect couch.

Measure Your Space

Picking a Perfect SofaPhoto: Amr Safey
Before you shop for a new couch, determine what size you need. That may not be determined by the size of your room, but by the size of your doorways or stairs. Measure the maximum width, height and length that will fit in your space or through your entrance and do not buy a couch larger than will fit. You will add hundreds of dollars to the price of your project if you have to widen the doorway or move the stairs.

What Style?

A contemporary sofaPhoto: Madnithy
Determine the type of couch would work best in your room without overwhelming the space. Do you want a sectional for watching with the family, loveseat to save space, or perhaps a sleeper for guests to sleep over? If you are buying a sofa to be used simply for seating, I recommend a couch length between 65-75 inches for the average size room.

Couch Back Styles

Tight Back SofaPhoto: Fleur Suijten
After choosing the couch style you want, choose what type of couch back you want. What is comfortable for one person may not be comfortable for another. I recommend that you sit on each type before you decide. You may choose one type of back because of its comfort, but also because of your own style. A loose pillow back may drive you crazy because you always want to straighten the back. A tightback sofa may be best for you.

Choosing a Fabric

Patterned Upholstery Photo: Ali Farid
Pick an upholstery fabric or leather that will wear well with your family's lifestyle. Look at the fabric's content and weave. Choose tighter weaved fabrics for longer wear. Generally microfiber and cotton blends provide the best wear for family use, but it's harder to remove stains from microfibers. Check to see how the fabric should be cleaned. The tag should say S for solvent cleaning, W for water-based cleaning and S-W if both can be used. If the store offers Scotchguard, it is worth it to have it done. The spray at home type of Scotchguard is less satisfactory and potentially hazardous to your health if applied incorrectly. Professional treatment is safe and effective.

Construction Quality

Choose Quality ConstructionPhoto: Lotushead
It doesn't matter if you find a gorgeous couch that's the right color and style if the couch falls apart in a year. Making certain it is constructed to take the wear and tear that your family will dish out is a primary consideration when choosing a couch. Make sure the frame is kiln-dried hardwood held together with dowels. The corners should be blocked, glued and screwed. All parts of an upholstered couch should be padded and the patterns should be matched on the arms, back and cushions.

Finding a Deal

You Can Find a Sofa DealOwner: Jade
If you are willing to search, you can find great couch on a tight budget. Searching through craigslist, yard sales, and thrift shops will give you plenty of possibilities. But you need to inspect the potential couch closely for stability and support before you buy. Sit on the couch, smell it (yes, smell it!), and search for stains hidden and otherwise. Don't pay for it until the inspection is done. You can also find designer sofas at floor sample sales. Floor samples are sold for much less than the original price, but are usually sold without a warranty and as-is. As with all of these budget sources, make sure you are aware of, and can live with, any imperfections.

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