CLS Custom Upholsterers & Refinishers

When most people shop for sofas, they often think about color, design, and the materials used to build them. Hardly will they start thinking of the steps that go into the building process. Understandably, sofa-making isn’t a DIY project. This piece of furniture is made mainly by experts who use special machinery and skillful techniques. It takes many hours to construct a well-designed and functional sofa.

With the many choices available in the marketplace, it’s helpful to understand what it takes to build a couch correctly and, therefore, what to look out for.

Choosing a Design

The first step to building a sofa right is coming up with a design. This includes deciding the style for the back, arms, and legs from both an aesthetic and functional perspective. Most designers will get inspiration from current trends, historical designs, or art and nature. All these can inspire the shapes and forms of a sofa.

When building a custom-made sofa, the design process is collaborative between you and the designer.

An essential part of the design is considering the ergonomics and proportions. The seat height and depth have to be comfortable for users. Typical seat heights range from 17 to 19 inches, with depths varying based on whether the sofa is more for sitting upright or lounging. The backrest is usually between 12 and 20 inches high from the seat surface, while armrests should support a relaxed shoulder position.

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Building the Frame

Next comes building the framework. At this stage, choosing high-quality wood for building the sofa is crucial. Ideally, it should be solid and durable enough to withstand the constant weight. Standard wood choices include kiln-dried maplewood, pine, oak, walnut, mahogany, and cherry.

Quality composite materials, such as webbing, padding, and springs, are also key.

The furniture makers will factor in the sofa design when picking wood to ensure it’s the right thickness. The building process begins with cutting the frame sections into their designated shapes, then assembling them in the correct sequence using dowel glue joints, screws, and other essential tools for a secure fit.

Discount and high-volume couch manufacturers may often compromise quality by using cheap materials and quick techniques to construct the frame to reduce cost. Though the sofa may feel sturdy when new, a poorly built frame results in a short lifespan—costing you more in replacement and repair expenses.

Constructing the Support

Have you ever wondered what supports your seat cushion, giving you so much comfort when you unwind after a long day? It’s springs or webbing. There are several types of support used when constructing a sofa. The most common support is the webbing seat support, which you’ll likely find in most modern sofas. Webbing has several benefits, including:

  • Comfort: It provides a slightly springy base that molds to the body’s contours, offering a more comfortable seat than rigid bases like plywood or slats.
  • Durability: High-quality webbing can last many years without needing replacement.
  • Flexibility: Webbing allows for some give, which can reduce stress on both the frame and the cushions, potentially extending the life of other sofa components.
  • Ease of installation and repair: Webbing is relatively straightforward to install and replace, making it a practical choice for manufacturing and repair work.

When it comes to the spring system, there are several types used, including an 8-way hand-tied spring system, steel springs, and drop-in units of springs. The 8-way hand-tied spring system offers the best support and comfort. However, it also tends to be labor intensive because a spring is individually tied to the sofa’s frame in eight different directions. This extensive work ensures even and durable support across the couch.

Manufacturers often combine webbing and springs in some couches to optimize comfort and durability. The webbing provides the initial support layer, while springs added above or below the webbing layer enhance the structure’s responsiveness and longevity.

Applying Foam Padding

Once the webbing is securely attached across the sofa frame, next comes the padding. The most common foams used in sofa construction include high-density, memory, and polyurethane foam. High-density foam offers excellent longevity and is ideal for frequent use, maintaining its shape over time.

On the other hand, memory foam is known for its comfort as it conforms to the body’s contours. Polyurethane is versatile and a common choice, available in various densities and firmness levels to suit different preferences. The foam is cut to size and attached to the frame.

Upholstering the Sofa

Upholstering a sofa involves fabric covering the foam and frame to provide aesthetic appeal and functional durability. There are many fabrics, including leather, velvet, linen, cotton, and synthetic fabrics—each with varying quality and optimal purpose.

In custom furniture, the client can choose the fabrics they want to use. However, furniture makers will guide them towards the best material based on their lifestyle, budget, and taste. The fabric is measured and cut with extra allowance for tucking and adjustment. It’s then sewn onto the sofa, considering any specific design elements such as pleats, tufts, or other decorative features. This includes carefully stitching the fabric to accommodate the design while ensuring it remains functional, aesthetically pleasing, and reflective of their lifestyle, budget, taste, and preferences.

The Seat Cushions

This step in sofa construction can occur at any stage, offering flexibility in the manufacturing process. Creating seat cushions for a sofa involves cutting and shaping foam to fit cushion covers, then wrapping the foam in padding like cotton or Dacron for added softness and shape retention. The cushion covers, made from chosen upholstery fabric, are either sewn closed or fitted with a zipper for easy removal and cleaning. Zippered covers are especially practical, allowing for maintenance and adjustments to the cushion’s filling over time, thus ensuring functionality and a harmonious appearance with the sofa’s overall design.

The Sofa Legs

Attaching legs to a sofa involves selecting the right style and material, such as wood for a classic look or metal for a modern touch. Before installation, furniture makers reinforce the sofa base and mark where to attach each leg. Legs can be secured using hardware like threaded screws, hanger bolts, or metal plates, ensuring they are adequately tightened for stability. Once attached, they check that the sofa sits level, doesn’t wobble, and adjusts if necessary.

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

Building a sofa requires effort and attention to detail, but the result is a piece of furniture that’s functional and appealing. The old couch you’re looking to replace may be better constructed than the new options you see for sale. You may want to consider reupholstering what you have to get more value from a better product.

You may also consider a custom-built solution made with time-tested materials, tools, and techniques, such as those from CLS Custom Upholsterers & Refinishing. A sofa is an investment; the best value comes from couches built to last.

Are you ready for a new sofa in your home? Contact CLS Custom Upholsterers & Refinishing today! Our expert team is ready to craft your ideal sofa from the finest materials with superior craftsmanship.

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