When you choose a sofa sets in furniture markets is one of the most important investments you’re likely to make for your living space.
There are tons of different styles, options, brands, types, and features.
Muddling through all of the unfamiliar jargon can be overwhelming, and we understand how you feel.
Especially you are the first time to buy sofas in the China furniture markets.
This advice will help you make the right decision.
Let’s get start.
#1. Affordable Price
Why do I choose the price at first?
We came to China to buy furniture, not only because of the complete style but also the price of furniture is relatively cheap.
For example, the price of your local sofa ranges from $700 to $2500.
But the price of sofas in China’s furniture market is very different.
It can be divided into 4 levels:
- Cheap. Price range: 1500RMB to 5000RMB
- Moderate. Price range: 5000RMB to 10000RMB
- Better. Price range: 10000RMB to 20000RMB
- Some famous brands: more than 20,000RMB
From a hierarchical point of view, is it cheap to represent poor quality?
Sofas or couches are calls about “Units”. There are large and small units.
Large-sized units generally refer to relatively large sofas, which are generally used in villas and in relatively large living rooms.
Small units generally refer to small sofas, which are generally used in apartments and have a small living room.
Obviously, in the cheap grade, small-sized sofas account for a large proportion. So the price is also cheap, of course, this price will also buy a large sofa.
By the same token, at a medium or higher level, the proportion of large sofas is quite high. Of course, you also can buy small sofas at this price.
When you understand the approximate price in the furniture market, you must give yourself a budget.
When your budget is at 8000 RMB, the price after the store discount is 7500 RMB.
If you still want the price to be cheaper, I don’t think it’s sensible.
The reason is:
- 1. Furniture on the market is generally retail, not wholesale. Unless you are placing an order for the entire cabinet.
- 2. The prices in the market are quite transparent because you only need to log in to Alibaba to ask some Chinese furniture manufacturers to know the approximate price range.
The general retail price is 30% to 50% more expensive than the wholesale price.
- 3. “It’s worth every penny of it.” Everyone wants to buy a sofa that is cheap and good quality. However, who knows the price he gives you, will not do the subtraction on the quality of your sofa.
In the furniture market, you will indeed buy a good sofa, but you must accept the principle of “It’s worth every penny of it..”
Otherwise, it may be you who suffer.
Dealing at an acceptable price may be your wisest choice. Instead of always want the price to be cheaper.
#2. Measure Your Space
Before you go to the China furniture market to buy a sofa, you must measure the size of the space that the sofa will be placed at home.
Start from the entry, then move on to all the passages, hallways, staircases, or doors that your sofa will pass through to get to where it is supposed to go.
Make sure to leave a few extra inches for maneuvering your furniture.
In addition to measuring the space at home, you also need to go to the store to measure the size of the sofa.
Most sofas come in a few standard lengths.
An eight-foot one is optimal for catnapping and conversation, any shorter than six feet, and you might be better off with two club chairs and an ottoman.
When you measure a sofa, don’t just stop at the length or the width because that will not give you the full picture and the measurements can be incorrect.
Here is how to measure properly:
Measure the width from arm to arm because that is usually the widest part of the sofa.
You need to make sure that you are taking the width measurements at the widest point.
For instance, if the sofa you selected has rolled arms, measure from outside the widest part of one arm to the other arm and not at the bottom near the legs.
The next step is to measure the height—measure the back at the highest point.
For instance, a camel-back sofa will be highest in the center.
Measure from there to the floor because sometimes sofa legs are attached.
If the sofa legs are screwed on, you might be able to get away with just measuring from the top to the bottom of the sofa.
If that measurement passes through the entryway, then you can screw the legs on once you have the sofa inside the room.
The depth of the sofa is one of the most important measurements to take.
The way to do this is to measure from the outside edge of the seat all the way to the back.
It’s best to do it from one of the sides.
The next step is to measure the diagonal depth of the sofa.
You do this by placing a straight tape measure from the top back of the frame to the bottom front.
Of course, you’d better bring the interior drawings of your home.
#3. Pick A Material
Most sofa frames are made out of wood, but some have metal frames.
Here’s a run-down of the most common frame types used in sofas:
Cheapest, most fragile, lightest. Also the most inexpensive.
Made of composite wood materials.
Usually Oak, Cherry, Walnut, Beech.
Hardwood frames are made out of solid wood—much more durable than particleboard.
This is a finishing process for the wood where they dry the wood in big ovens.
It makes the wood much stronger and more durable.
Least likely material to warp or snap.
Hardest frame material but can bend over time. Will not snap.
The next thing to consider is how the frame is put together.
Here are the two most common forms of joining the frame:
1. Stapled Frame Assembly
Stapled Frame Assembly is the most inexpensive but not as durable.
Heavy duty staples hold the different pieces of wood together like a picture frame.
This assembly type has the potential to be less sturdy than that of it’s double doweled counterpart.
2. Double Doweled Frame Assembly
Most solid and durable. Higher quality and more expensive.
The joints are put together with dowels (round pieces of wood) that are inserted into corresponding holes, usually with glue and screws.
Double doweled, glued, and screwed, is the best, most durable frame to have.
Seat Cushion Types
Next, you can think about what kind of cushions you’d like to have:
1. Low Density Foam
Most inexpensive, soft to the touch, most likely to flatten, dimple, and wear faster.
2. High Density Foam
This option tends to be more expensive.
The benefits are that it holds it’s shape longer and has a firmer sit.
3. Down Cushions
Most expensive, filled with goose down.
Most comfortable sit, but pillows need to be fluffed every 2-3 weeks.
Can cause allergies if allergic to feather products.
Feather-filled cushions are high on comfort but they will need regular plumping, while foam or fiber fillings may flatten out and lose their shape over time.
We recommend choosing a combination of feather and foam as ‘feathers give the squish while the foam provides structure’.
A good combination is back cushions filled with feathers and seat cushions filled with foam or fiber.
Back Cushion Types
Upholstery can be linen, leather, tweed, polyester, or any number of materials. Here are some typical types of fabrics that sofas come in:
1. Top Grain Leather
Made of cowhide, soft to the touch, highly durable. It can be difficult to clean.
2. Bonded Leather
Composite of leather parts and artificial fabrics. Blasted to create leather feel but less durable than top grain leather.
Also more inexpensive with a comparable look.
There are two fiber categories, natural or man-made.
Natural fibers can be cellulose or plant-based fibers, or animal/protein fibers. And, if it does not come from the natural world, then that means it is synthetic or man-made.
Plant-Based Natural Fibers
These fibers are derived from plants. Cotton and linen are two of the best-known ones.
Cotton is a popular plant-based fiber that is used extensively.
Premium grades of cotton can be almost as expensive as silk and just as lustrous; lesser grades, with a shorter fiber length, can be fuzzy and dull.
Cotton is strong and versatile, but not very resistant to wrinkling and stretching.
Linen is another plant-derived fiber and shares many similarities with cotton.
It’s available in a variety of grades with the finer grades looking smooth and almost silk-like.
Like cotton, linen is not very resilient and wrinkles easily, making it a good blend with other fibers.
Linen can be cleaned easily; it can be washed and ironed or dry cleaned.
Linen ages well, as it does not fade from light and is resistant to insects; however, it is prone to mold and mildew and will not tolerate very high humidity.
It’s more often used in drapery and wall coverings instead of upholstery.
Animal-Based Natural Fibers
Protein or animal fibers such as silk and wool are used in high-end fabrics; they are expensive to produce.
Silk is derived from silkworms and has been a symbol of luxury for centuries.
Reeled silk is smooth and shiny, while spun silk is more textured.
Silk is strong and can last a long time if not exposed to sunlight, as long as not mildewing easily.
It’s beautiful, but due to its cost, is only used in high-end fabrics.
It can be dry cleaned or cleaned with a mild detergent
Wool is obtained from sheep fleece, and the term “virgin wool” denotes new, not recycled wool.
Wool’s texture can range from soft and fuzzy to hard and smooth.
It’s wrinkle- and soil-resistant and can stand up to abrasion, mildew, and sunlight; however, it does need to be protected from insects.
It makes a durable, but relatively expensive upholstery fabric and is often blended with synthetic fibers.
To clean wool, either dry clean or use a mild detergent and cold water.
Synthetic or Man-made Fibers
Synthetic fibers or polymers such as microfiber are the most extensively used group of fibers in modern upholstery.
There are endless possibilities in textures, colors, and patterns with these fibers.
As a rule, they also hold up well to all kinds of wear and tear.
Acetate is a synthetic fiber made from cellulose acetate.
Acetate has a luxurious look and feel with strong luster and a good ability to take dyes.
It’s resistant to shrinkage, wrinkling, and mildew, but does not resist solvents or abrasion.
Acetate is used extensively in blends to impart softness and luster and is also found in novelty fabrics, lining, and taffetas.
It’s easily cleaned with soap and water or by dry cleaning.
Acrylic fibers are also man-made and include such brand names as Orlon, Acrilan, Dolan, and Dralon.
With a soft, wooly, and natural feel, acrylic is used to create plush velvets.
Acrylic fabrics are quick-drying and resistant to sunlight, fading, mildew, and insects; however, it is not flame-retardant.
Acrylics make excellent outdoor fabrics.
To clean, either wash with soap and water or dry clean.
Nylon is the generic name for a group of chemically related fibers and was introduced by DuPont in 1939.
It dyes and drapes well, and has a good luster.
Nylon is very durable as it is extremely resistant to abrasion, mildew, insects, and wrinkling; it does have poor resistance to sunlight.
It’s extensively used to create velvets, woven fabrics, and knits.
You can either dry clean or wash it.
Olefin is derived from petroleum and can mimic wool in appearance.
It resists moisture, mildew, chemicals, and abrasion.
It is sensitive to heat and if not treated properly, it can be damaged by sunlight.
Flat-woven fabrics and velvets can be made from an olefin.
It is easy to wash or dry clean.
Polyester and Microfibe
Polyester was also introduced by DuPont in the 1950s.
Microfiber, which has increased in popularity over the years, is a blend of polyester and polyamide.
In appearance, polyester fabrics can range from bright to dull sheen, and crisp to soft feel.
It is strong and durable with good resistance to abrasion, standing up well to sunlight, mildew, and insects.
Traditional polyester can be subject to pilling and soil easily, but microfiber has excellent resistance to soiling and wrinkling.
Polyester blends beautifully with other fibers, such as cotton, and can have a silk-like appearance.
It is good for use in outdoor fabrics; stains can be easily spot-treated with solvents or detergents.
#4. Furniture Styles
Nowadays, the market is filled with different sorts of furniture!
The sofa sets the tone to the whole style of the room.
It’s very hard to decide which sofa type will suit your space harmoniously, but it is even harder to explain the producer or the retailer what are you looking for.
Make sure you pick out a sofa that works with the overall design aesthetic that you have in the rest of your home.
Some people mix and match, but most prefer a cohesive and copacetic look.
But no matter how many styles of sofas are on the market, we can classify them into three styles：
There are no superfluous details in the design of modern sofas such as fabric skirts, accent pillows with floral motifs, carved wood legs, and rolled armrests.
The concept of modern furniture is about innovation, simplicity, comfort, and functionality.
The streamlined silhouette of a contemporary sofa works well with any type of fabric from linen to leather, wool, and polyester.
Modern furniture is a good choice for both residential and commercial spaces, due to its laconic design and sometimes, formal look.
Depending on the material used in manufacturing processes, furniture may have different prices and levels of quality.
Advantages of modern sofas:
- Wide range of prices
- Suitable for any type of interior style
- Works great with both residential and commercial spaces
- Easy to care and clean
Traditional sofas use different decorative elements to focus on an extraordinary, luxurious and classy vibe.
Using the sophisticated architecture of the frame, curvaceous shapes, and intricate details, a classic sofa is a chance to show your refined taste and bring an atmosphere of wealth and elegance.
Fabric is a popular upholstery option for traditional furniture.
Ranging from velvet, microfiber, linen, and polyester, the sofa’s upholstery is usually accented with button tufting detailing, decorative nail heads, etc.
With such an elegant design that is able to express individuality, traditional pieces work better with residential spaces.
Traditional sofas are usually more expensive than modern ones in most cases, due to different types of solid wood:
beech, oak, walnut and mahogany that is one of the most expensive materials.
Some furniture brands use natural bamboo, which has a high level of durability and rich texture and coloration of exotic hardwood.
Advantages of classic/traditional sofas:
- Beautiful, eye-catching design elements
- Quality framework and upholstery
- An attention-grabbing and memorable look
- Includes a big selection of styles (related to different design areas)
Contemporary furniture refers to the styles and trends of the present — the now — as opposed to traditional furniture designs that have classic appeal or other design styles through the ages.
Often confused with modern furniture styles, there is a distinct difference between modern and contemporary furniture styles, although they do share some similar characteristics.
What is contemporary today could be an old hat by tomorrow — that’s how fast styles can change.
Contemporary furniture borrows elements from all styles and eras.
As of March 2015, contemporary furniture pulls many of its design aesthetics from Mid-Century Modern, Danish Modern, and other modern styles.
Characteristics include a feeling of openness with raised chairs and couches along with reflective glass and metal in coffee, end and dining tables.
Today’s contemporary-styled furniture merges with modern designs by utilizing simple and clean lines focused on comfort.
Contemporary homes often have minimalist appeal; furniture appears light, airy and visually appealing with a modest appearance.
Credenzas, dressers and entertainment centers present with smooth, lustrous surfaces and lines in natural neutral or dark woods or glossy black for a shiny, reflective surface.
On the opposite side of the spectrum sits traditional furniture with frills and trim that provide romantic and curvaceous appeal when compared with contemporary’s urban, clean look.
The two furniture styles don’t blend well in the same setting.
Couches and chairs in contemporary furniture have square-edges typically raised above the floor with thin angled and metal tubular legs with no frills or skirting so that you can see under them — similar in style to modern couches.
The negative spaces beneath and around contemporary furniture are as important a feature as their positive spaces.
Couches and chairs represent bare, but bold rectangular shapes appear, often in darker or neutral colors in leather or lightly textured fabrics.
Contemporary furniture often features natural woods, fabrics, and texture.
Upholstered furniture may be black, white, gray, brown or other neutrals with color added to decor instead.
An entertainment system may be sleek, low and long, with minimalist shelving added to the wall above.
Platform or low-slung beds are a favored contemporary design for bedrooms.
Lighting fixtures are often metallic and wispy thin for functionality and style or built-in as track lighting.
Contemporary furniture is all about neutrals, blacks, and whites.
When decorating in this style, some people may opt for a splash of color in a peach or salmon chair, but most of the time, furniture color schemes are bland to let the decor — a large unframed abstract painting, for instance — take center stage.
Textured natural jute or sisal area rugs set off a conversation area.
A home outfitted with contemporary furniture often has an open and spacious feel, and it’s easy to keep clean.
#5. Try Before You Buy
The average sofa has a seat depth of at least 60cm, which gives plenty of room to maneuver if you have long legs and allows you to tuck them under if you’re shorter.
But seat depths do vary, so try out different styles to ensure you get good back support.
When it comes to seat height most designs are between 45cm and 50cm high.
There’s no right or wrong height so try before you buy to make sure it suits the whole family.
Finally, check the total width, excluding armrests, if you like to stretch out.
Give yourself plenty of time when you are trying out a sofa, so you get to know it.
A mere few seconds of quickly plopping down is not going to tell you much about it.
A good salesperson will understand and not bother you while you are trying on different sofas for size.
You need to get an understanding of how it feels when you stay sitting on it for a while.
Test many different styles, and make sure to try them out in a way you would use a sofa at home.
- Do you like to sit with your legs curled up?
- Do you like to lie down on it?
- Do you feel the happiest sitting in the center?
Consider the height and depth of the seat.
For taller people, it is best to have deeper seats.
If you find it hard to rise from a seated position, try a shallower seat.
When you sit down on a sofa to try it out, take into account the height and feel of the back as well.
- Do you prefer a tight-back sofa or one with loose cushions?
Try out all different cushion configurations to see which one feels right.
Do remember to take your shoes off before you place your feet on a sofa in a furniture store if that is your sitting style.
Every person differs in what they consider to be comfortable.
Some would like a sofa they can sink into, while others prefer a firmer seat.
- Which one do you like?
Try sitting on different fills to select the level of firmness or softness that you like.
Consider if you want the same level of softness or firmness in the seat and back.
They do not have to be the same.
Each fabric is going to feel different, and it will add in a very different way to the overall feel of a sofa.
- You may like the look of heavily textured fabrics, but do you like the feel of them?
- Does a surface feel too slick?
- Do you like the sound leather makes when you shift your weight on it?
Sit on different fabrics long enough to find one that is right for you.
This is especially important if it is going to be “the sofa,” the special one that is used all the time.
When testing for fabric, you should also check to see if it wrinkles easily or stretches.
If it wrinkles easily, it will be difficult to maintain its looks for a long time.
Sagging fabric will make it look dilapidated very quickly.
#6. Some Terms Glossary
Just in case you get confused and need to brush up on the different sofa terms that will float around on the site, here’s a glossary to help keep your mind fresh:
- Bonded Leather
- Double Doweled Frame
- Double Rubs
- Down Cushions
- Kiln Dried Hardwood
- Particle Board
- Pillow Back
- Side or Accent Chair
- Stapled Frame
- Tight Back
Sofa with three seats. Also referred to as a standard sofa.
Fabric that is made by blasting leather particles onto artificial fabrics, usually polyurethane. Has the look of leather but lacks the durability of full grain.
Frame consists of hardwood that is joined with dowels inserted into corresponding and glued together (also screwed).
Measuring unit for fabric durability. Determined by a pendulum that rubs fabric until it wears out. It usually goes anywhere from 15,000 to over 100,000.
Cushions filled with goose feathers.
Harder woods (Oak, Ash, Birch, Walnut) that are dried in a high-temperature oven to enhance the wood’s natural strength
Sofa with two seats
Wood consists of manufactured wood particles, usually held together with adhesives.
Back cushions consist of removable and individual pillows or cushions.
Sofas with more than one piece that goes together to make a larger sofa, usually in an L shape. Some sectionals can be U shapes.
The frame is made out of wood and the components are stapled together with industrial staples.
Back cushions are sewn into the frame of the sofa. They’re not removable.
Buttons on the cushions, usually sunk into the cushion to make the sofa look extra plushy.
The fabric (leather or other textiles) that covers the sofa.