The Case for Quality Furniture
There are many reasons for buying sturdy furniture, not the least of which is that there is rarely a need to throw it out. In contrast, poor quality furniture seems to break if you look at it wrong and, once broken, is difficult to recycle. So what does one need to know about furniture to get the stuff that will last?
First off, avoid buying crappy furniture. “Crappy”, in this case does not necessarily mean cheap. It means flimsy, not durable, going to break quickly – even under normal use. Watch out for furniture held together solely with glue, staples or nails. These can look pretty to start with, but don’t stand up to continued use. Dovetail joints or screws can handle wear and are a better choice.
One key material to avoid is medium-density fiberboard and other wood composites. Essentially, they are wood fibers glued together and covered with a veneer of plastic or hardwood. The material has become ubiquitous in the furniture world these days – but is really best avoided. It is difficult to repair and very susceptible to water damage. Not convinced? It also off-gasses one of its ingredients: formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen.
Your best choice is to buy high-quality furniture, preferably used. Look for solid wood that is hard enough to resist scratching and dents and held together, as mentioned, with dovetail joints or screws rather than nails or staples. Buying used can dramatically reduce the price. Antique pieces, classic ‘vintage’ furniture, or ‘new-to-you’ furniture are all good options. Plus, you can feel good, since buying used avoids the resources that would have been consumed by making new furniture for you.
There’s also the more artistic option: buy (or make) ‘upcycled’ furniture (also called ‘reworked’). Next door to the SWRC office, the store Green Ark Collected Home does just that: rescues local materials and furniture and reworks them into works-of-art furniture. Understandably, the time and attention that goes into them also commands a higher price tag than some new furniture, but a much lower price tag for the environment. If you are handy yourself, there are countless ideas for repurposed furniture. (Just look up “Recycled Furniture” on Pinterest).
For a more detailed list of what to look for in choosing quality furniture, see this article in Money Talks News