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Your trusted decorating and home furnishings shopping advisor. Free expert design advice, tools and inspiration galleries; plus how and where to buy furniture.

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    Furniture that is easily cleanable is simpler to maintain over time. Photo: Sunbrella® Fabrics

  • Stanley Furniture

    By choosing the right quality of wood and construction, you will have beautiful furniture that will last through the years. This piece from Stanley Furniture's new City Club collection demonstrates that quality in both wood and hardware is important.

  • C.R. Laine

    This leather armchair by C.R. Laine shows that leather furniture can be elegantly stylish while remaining ruggedly durable.

C.R. Laine
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This leather armchair by C.R. Laine shows that leather furniture can be elegantly stylish while remaining ruggedly durable.


Caring for Your Furniture

Proper care and cleaning can extend the life of your furniture and help maintain its beauty.

Upholstery: All upholstery, including leather, should be vacuumed at least twice a month. Regularly rotate and flip cushions to prevent sagging. A white cotton towel should be immediately applied to spills, but blot, don't rub--rubbing can spread stains and weaken fabric.

Wood: Dusting with mild, non-abrasive cleaners is essential if you hope to keep your wooden furniture durable for the long-term, because as dust builds up, it can act like sandpaper on a finished surface. Anything containing linseed oil, wax, ammonia, alcohol or silicone should be avoided; these products can do long-term harm to your finish. Likewise, never use abrasive cleaning pads or steel wool. Avoid solvents as well, as they will soften the wood and remove its protective finish.

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  • Buying for Durability

    What to look for when shopping for furniture that will last.

    by Robin Parrish

    Whether you have kids, pets, or frequent company, you want furniture that will fit your lifestyle and still stand the test of time. If resilience is what you're after, here are some shopping tips on selecting durable wood and upholstery furnishings.



    Because it's frequently exposed to your family's activity, upholstered furniture sometimes takes the brunt of day-to-day use. But don't pull out the slipcovers just yet. These days there are many wonderful upholstered furniture options for durability. By learning a little about the varied materials that go into the construction of upholstery, you will be able to select furniture that's a perfect match for your lifestyle.

    Fabric: Tightly woven fabrics are often the highest quality and most durable. "Thread count" is a common term heard when selecting textiles because it describes not only how the fabric feels on your skin, but also the strength of it. Higher thread counts have more threads woven per square inch, and are generally more durable than other fabrics.

    Natural Fibers: The building blocks of fabrics are fibers, and natural fibers are the most desirable for durability. One of the most durable of all fibers is wool, with natural strength and resistance to scuffing and stains. Linen is another highly durable fabric, offering a good resistance to heat and stains. Cotton is pliable and soft, but can fade if kept in frequent direct sunlight. Rayon and silk are among the least durable fibers.

    Synthetic Fibers: These fibers are sometimes blended with natural fibers for their positive qualities. Nylon is by far the strongest and most dirt-resistant, while polyester is moderately strong yet easy to clean and resistant to fire, abrasion and sunlight damage.

    Leather: If you're looking for durable upholstery, it's hard to go wrong with leather. Not only does it offer a great look and feel, but it is usually more durable than fiber-based fabrics. Plus, it gets softer over time without losing strength. In general, leather is easy to clean, simple to maintain with proper conditioner, and has a tougher quality than most fabrics.

    Frames: Frames are most durable when made of the strongest woods, wood laminates or heavier metals, and should be assembled by blocking, screwing, gluing, and fastening for maximum stability. Additional slats or supports are also a plus.

    Springs: There are two primary kinds of springs: Standard, which is less expensive yet very firm because the springs move only up and down; and Eight-Way Hand-Tied, the gold standard, which features heavy-duty coils that are configured to move in multiple directions, offering the highest available comfort and sturdiness.

    Padding: The basic rule of thumb for padding and cushions: the higher the density of the foam, the better.


    Wood Furnishings

    To many people, wood is synonymous with sturdiness and quality. However, wood furniture is not immune to wear and abrasion. By choosing the right quality of wood and construction, you will have beautiful furniture that will last through the years. Take a look below at what makes up durable wood furniture.

    Types of Wood: One of the most durable woods is rare teak, which is incredibly strong, heavy and rot-resistant, thanks to the natural oils and waxes it contains. Teak has a life expectancy beyond 75 years, and is most often used for outdoor furniture, although indoor teak furniture is not unheard of. Oak, like teak, is among the heaviest woods, but oak is used mostly for fine indoor furniture. Maple, mahogany, walnut, cherry and birch are harder woods used to craft high-quality furnishings. Pine, fir, redwood and cedar are softer woods that are also used to produce fine furnishings, but will scratch and dent more easily.

    Finish: Wood finished with varnish or lacquer will last longest. Oil or wax finishes are less durable and have to be reapplied regularly.

    Hardware: There's more to most wood furniture than just the wood. Cabinets, drawers, beds, and most chairs are usually assembled with metal hardware like hinges, screws, nails and metal frames. Metal durability is a lot like furniture durability: the heavier it is, the more durable it is.

    Now that you know what makes furniture durable, you can start shopping for furniture that is suited for your family's lifestyle. Keep in mind that furniture manufactured to withstand maximum wear and tear may also cost more--so consider durability an investment.