Your upholstered furniture guide
Upholstered furniture is usually bought for its visual appeal and should retain its beautiful appearance for a long time. Since it is assumed today that upholstered furniture is used for an average of four hours a day, there are other points to consider when buying.
Which look would you like?
Do you prefer the cushion look or rather the straight, flatter look? Basically, a distinction is made between "casual" and "taut" upholstery. It is a matter of taste which you choose. Do you like to sink into cushions? Do you like the seat to softly enclose your back? Then you are the type for casual upholstery. Or do you prefer to sit a little harder, but still soft? Then you prefer the firm upholstery.
With the casual upholstery, the cover fabric is very loosely worked so that it can follow your every movement while you sit. However, the cover cannot tighten itself afterwards - a typical characteristic of casual upholstery. Therefore, you should tap the cushions after sitting and smooth the seat again. The slight ripples and wrinkles that occur are unavoidable. After all, you should be able to enjoy optimum seating comfort.
With tight covers, the appearance is largely wrinkle-free. After sitting, the cover tightens, but slight visual changes such as waves are also possible here.
6 tips on how to correctly assess the seating comfort of upholstered furniture
Whatever you decide: The best way to check the seating comfort is to try it out in detail, paying attention to the following points:
- Do the height and angle of the seat suit you? Only when you feel really relaxed in the upholstered furniture and your pelvis and back are properly supported is it possible to sit for a long time and relax.
- Is the seat depth sufficient for you? Or do you sit so far back that the back of your knees are pressed against the front edge? In the long run, your legs start to tingle here. How do you feel about the backrest? It depends entirely on your physical needs whether you want to lean against a hard backrest or snuggle into a back cushion that almost encloses your back.
- Is the angle of the backrest comfortable for you?
- Is the backrest the right height for you? Can you lean your head without overstretching your neck? Or do you only want to support the back of your head with the backrest? For example, when watching television? Then of course the backrest must reach higher up.
- Do your feet rest comfortably on the floor when you sit? Or do you just reach the floor with the tips of your toes? Then either the seat depth or the seat height is not right. In any case, your feet should reach the floor comfortably. This way you will sit more relaxed in the long run and it will be easier for you to get up from the sofa. If someone in your household is very tall, you should order higher footrests for this person's seat and thus raise the seat by 2 - 3 cm. Many manufacturers now offer this.
- Are the armrests comfortable for you or do they possibly push your arm up unnaturally? In this case, choose a model with armrests on which you can comfortably lean.
5 points to bear in mind when considering the functions and use of upholstered furniture
- How do you want to use the upholstered furniture? Do you only want to sit on it? Or do you also want to be able to lie comfortably on it or even sleep? If so, you should pay attention to the size of the reclining surface and the reclining comfort. If it is to be a functional sofa, check in the shop how easy it is to handle and how stable the construction is.
- Do you have children? Then you should attach particular importance to a stable basic upholstery and choose an easy-care cover. By the way, the most expensive covers are not automatically the best! Although they are often very high-quality, elaborately crafted covers, they are also often very sensitive (like silk, for example). The "durability" should definitely be a factor in your considerations.
- Do you have pets with claws or beaks? Possibly a cat? Here, no cover has a chance of lasting beauty. Even if you get the cat to sharpen its claws elsewhere - sooner or later the sofa will serve as a jumping ramp or climbing frame. An expensive cover would literally be "for the cat". In this case, ask your furniture store if they also re-upholster upholstered furniture - the ray of hope for years to come. You really have no other choice but to have it reupholstered, because no upholstery - whether fabric or leather - is resistant to claws (the only absolutely scratch-resistant material is unvarnished granite).
- Do you like to wear jeans? Then you should not choose light-coloured covers. Clothes should not give off any colour - this is a manufacturing defect (unless the manufacturer specifically refers to it), but consumers accept it. Unfortunately, there is still no furniture fabric that repels colour abrasion by clothing. Rivets, keys and purses placed in back pockets are just as damaging.
- Should the cover be made of fabric or leather? Here you have to make a choice according to your visual preferences and how you feel. Do you like to touch leather or do you have a better feeling when touching fabric? Some people find leather too cold at first when they sit on it. In the meantime, many leathers are processed differently than in the past, so that they take on the body temperature of the person after a short time.
Upholstered furniture manufacturer
What types of fabric covers are there?
There are basically four different types of textile upholstery covers on the market at present:
|Flat weave||beautiful look because all types of yarns and colours can be ideally combined||not as durable as velour. There are serious differences in quality within the flat weaves|
|Woven velours (Samtana etc.)||High to very high durability, easy to clean||limited in the variety of designs. Seat mirrors can occur ("silky" shiny areas)|
|Flock velour/ flockware||Very durable, easy to clean, soft and warm, good value for money||sensitive to solvents of all kinds. Seat mirrors can occur, sensitive to scratches|
|Swirl fleece / microfibre fabrics (Alcantara, Belvetara etc.)||noble suede look, soft handle, hard-wearing, easy-care||Can get some patina after long use (residues of body fat in the form of shiny spots, partly darker colouring), tendency to pillingFleckschutz – trotzdem schnell putzen!|
Some upholstery covers are equipped with stain protection. In this case, spilled liquids "stand" on the cover for some time, but still penetrate the cover over time. Basically, you should always act quickly in case of stains and soak up the liquid with a soft cloth. You cannot do without the normal maintenance care of an upholstered piece of furniture, because stain protection cannot prevent the normal soiling that comes with everyday life.
Shading - the "seat mirror
If you have a sofa with a velour cover, you can see light or dark shading on the seat surface after sitting for a while, depending on how the light falls. This effect can be observed with velour as well as with chenille and other fabrics. Pressure, heat and body moisture can cause these so-called "pile layer changes". Vacuuming or brushing will restore the original look.
Does your sofa give out shocks? Electrostatic charge is caused by the friction of synthetic fibres (upholstery fabric / clothing / carpet) with rubber soles. It depends on the humidity in the room. You can remedy this by increasing the air humidity, for example by using humidifiers and, above all, more indoor plants! They also purify the air. (18 - 23°C is a good room temperature at 40-60% relative humidity).
Leather - a natural work of art
Leather is a piece of nature. It shows the history of an entire animal's life: scars, thorn and hedge cracks, stable and pasture injuries, insect bites, burn marks and much more testify to the fact that the animal may have lived in the wild and had to fight the adversities of nature there. Leather connoisseurs appreciate precisely these signs of authenticity, which are unique to every leather cover.
Leather is like skin: it "lives and breathes". Through daily use, it acquires a beautiful patina; through human body heat, the leather itself takes on warmth; at the same time, it stretches a little and a few seat wrinkles appear, most of which disappear again. All these are signs that it is a high-quality leather.
What types of leather are there?
|Leather type||Features||Sensitivity||Maintenance effort||Suitable for|
|Aniline leather Natural leather||Soft, warm, cuddly, breathable, absorbs body heat very quickly; highest quality||quickly compensates for temperature differences, susceptible to soiling; can become "spotty" over the years (patina)||Maintain regularly (about 2-3 times per year)||High comfort for connoisseurs + enthusiasts; careful use|
|Lightly pigmented leather, semi-aniline leather||Breathability limited compared to natural leather; adjusts to body temperature||less sensitive||Low (damp wipe); approx. 2 x per year maintenance||Well suited for intensive use; robust and insensitive when used properly, but somewhat less comfortable|
|Nubuck / suede leather||soft, warm, cuddly, absorbs body heat very quickly (appears "warm"), very good quality||susceptible to soiling, fades, can become "spotty" over the years (patina)||Maintain regularly (2 - 3 x per year)||for leather connoisseurs and lovers; careful use|
|Split velour||Soft, warm, cuddly, quickly absorbs body heat||Less tear resistant||Maintain regularly (2 - 3 x per year)||for leather connoisseurs and lovers; careful use|
|Covered split leather||hardly breathable (especially muted leather) - cheapest leather, lowest quality||not very tear and abrasion resistant, hardly any temperature equalisation - no comfort||high||is not suitable for utility surfaces; if used on clamping parts or in the carcase area, it must be clearly marked as split leatherWas Sie bei der Lederpflege beachten müssen|
Leather does not require much daily care. It is usually sufficient to wipe the surface with a soft, damp cloth every now and then. Leather care products should be used from time to time. However, grease and alcohol residues should be removed immediately! It is best to use a soft cloth that has been slightly moistened with distilled water.
If you want to use special cleaning agents, you should first try them on a concealed area so that you can see how the leather and paint react to them. Only then should you use the products on visible areas - but please follow the instructions for use for all products you use!
Under no circumstances should you use solvents, acetone or cleaning surfactants; these agents will damage any leather.
In case of severe soiling and if you are unsure about the right treatment, it is better to consult a specialist for upholstery cleaning.
General maintenance of furniture leather
Just like daily washing or house cleaning, upholstered furniture also needs cleaning. Crumbs, hair, dander, dust and much more collect on an upholstered piece of furniture every day.
Simply vacuum the furniture regularly with an upholstery nozzle at low suction power and then brush with a soft brush in the direction of the stroke.
Maintenance care prolongs the life of your upholstered furniture and ensures long-lasting beauty.
Cleaning your furniture leather
A small "accident" can happen quickly - a drink spilled or food spilled from a plate. The most important thing is to react immediately. The best way to clean up food residue or other dirt is to wipe it up quickly with a dry kitchen towel or to soak up the liquid with a dry cloth.
If you want to use cleaning agents or detergents, you must ALWAYS take into account the material-specific properties of your upholstery fabric!
Stain removal should always be carried out by a professional upholstery cleaning company. If you still want to try it yourself, here are a few tips:
- Speed wins!
- Always work from the edge of the stain to the centre so that no edges form.
- Do not rub or pull the upholstery too much and do not use too much force. You could damage the cover.
- It is best to use only a lukewarm soap solution and a soft cloth - never use solvents!
- Once you have removed the stain, rub the area from seam to seam to avoid dry marks.
- After drying, brush the pile with the upholstery nozzle of the hoover or a soft brush.
Tips for removing stains from your upholstered furniture
|Spotted art||Means, method|
|Water- and oil-based soiling; beer, butter, cola, egg, drinks, milk, perfume, cream, salad dressings, chocolate, mustard, sauces, wine||Prepare a lye solution from a small amount of mild detergent (you can also add some stain remover) and lukewarm water and wash the stain over a large area with plenty of foam and liquid. Then remove any soap residue with plenty of clean water and rub dry with a clean cloth. Leave the cover to dry completely overnight at normal room temperature before sitting on it again.|
|Solvent-based stains, paints, cosmetics, ink, felt-tip pen, biros, lipstick, nail varnish, shoe polish||Sprinkle acetone (available in pharmacies) or stain remover on the stain, starting from the outside, and gently blot up the dissolving stain with an absorbent cloth or kitchen paper towel. Repeat this process until all paint particles have disappeared. Then clean the whole surface extensively with water and mild detergent, then remove the soap residue with clear water and allow to dry completely at normal room temperature.|
The smell of the new
Every new product has its own smell. You smell it in the car, with a new piece of clothing and with a piece of furniture. This smell disappears over time. If you want to speed it up, air the room where your new upholstered furniture is frequently. This is also healthy for you. Air the room regularly, heat it up again and make sure that the temperature is 18 - 23°C with 40-60%rel. This is the optimum room climate for people and furniture.
Lightfastness of upholstery fabrics and leather covers
You know it from clothes: Over time, they fade. This happens through washing, but also through sunlight or halogen lamps. Upholstery and leather coverings have a similar fading process; therefore, you should not place the upholstered furniture directly in front of the window. Shade the sofa in intense sunlight and do not place it directly under halogen spotlights. This will ensure that the colour of your upholstered furniture remains beautiful and intense for a long time.
Noise with functional upholstered furniture
Rarely visible and yet almost the most important feature of upholstered furniture: functional fittings. It is only through them that upholstered furniture can be adjusted, extended, put into the reclining position and much more. In the beginning, some fittings may be a bit stiff; don't worry about that - but please do not use force to avoid bending or damaging the fittings! Over time, the function will become easier to operate. Fittings may also make noises when operated. This is also no cause for concern. Only in the case of unusual use or stress should you become alert and stop the incorrect use so that you do not damage the fittings in the long term.
Which floor do you have?
Do the feet of your upholstered furniture match your floor? Some upholstered furniture can be equipped with different glides for parquet, tiled or carpeted floors. Here you have the choice to protect your floor as much as possible. Many pieces of upholstered furniture, on the other hand, only have one type of glider. In this case, you should simply be a little careful when moving the upholstered furniture so that you do not damage the floor.
Some delicate design feet may also leave marks on the floor - you are probably familiar with this from chairs. Clarify this before buying.
Always read the assembly and operating instructions!
You should do this with furniture as with any other newly purchased item in your household. Always read the assembly and operating instructions and stick to them! This will save you trouble and complaints, costs and effort.
Product information - help when buying furniture
Product information such as that provided by the members of the Deutsche Gütegemeinschaft Möbel e. V. (German Furniture Quality Association) is important for making the right purchase decision. Ask for the product information for your upholstered furniture before you buy!
The guidebook of the Federal Environment Agency - download now as an e-book for free!