Americans spend over $100 billion dollars a year on furniture and a lot of times we're not getting what we thought we paid for. In addition, recent customer surveys uncovered data that most consumers only expect their couch or safe to last 3 to 5 years. That's a far cry from granny's sofa she has had since the great depression. So what has happened?
Cheap frames and inexpensive fabrics flooded the market with "Cheap" furniture that looked good but does not last. The frames and foundations as well as the textiles used lack the durability of furniture from years past.
Cushions are the first to wear out on a couch or sofa and will usually require replacement, as they will lose their shape and style in the first 3 to 5 years; however, manufacturers don't make that easy, even if you have a warranty. An alternative is to reupholster, but that can be an expensive proposition. There are 3 types of cushion construction materials. Foam, coil springs, and down feathers. Of those 3 foam is the most widely used in cushion construction. Foam has many characteristics such as density and firmness with a density of 1.5 to 2.5 which denotes the weight in pounds of 1 cubic foot of the product and firmness range fro very very soft to very firm and everything in between. The density and thickness of the foam determine how long the foam will keep its shape. Add to that formula, how often is the sofa used and by whom? Household members, pets, and entertaining can all lead to the foam getting beat up and crushed if its low quality. HR foam or High Resilience is almost like memory foam and recovers its shape after being crushed by aunt Bessie after she passed out from too much turkey.
It's important to discuss the foam with the furniture salesperson. You can ask for the MSDS if need to get the numbers of the density, firmness and if it's a high reliance. You want at least a density of 2.0 or higher. You can do the unscientific test also. Density ios weight. So pick up the cushions. The heavier the cushion, the denser it is, and the longer it will last. The lighter the single cousin, the shorter the lifespan.
Down feathers don't necessarily mean better. They do not last as long as similar thicknesses of HIgh-Density foam. Coil springs are an option, but those also don't always last longer than foam and we have all sat on coil springs where one of them is trying to go somewhere it shouldn't.
The information on a furniture tag or "law label" us usually found under the cushions on the decking and contains the following:
Law labels were introduced in the early 1900s to prevent furniture from being filled with horsehair, corn husks, and other things that they like to stuff into furniture cushions out on the farm. I'm sure at one point someone made a couch with cushions filled with horse manure. Of course, the consumer would not see what inside, so that's why it has to be disclosed. Law Labels describe the filling materials as a percentage of those materials by weight. A common example of how those would look would be 80% polyurethane foam, 20% Polyester fibers. Currently, 31 states require law labels, sort of amazing that not all do.
States without tagging laws are Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virgin Islands, Washington, and Wyoming.
You can read all about it here. It seems the National Institute of Standards and Technolgy has "A Guide to the United States Furniture Compliance Requirements"
How to read Furniture Cleaning Codes