A quality, brand-new living room couch should cost "no less than $2,500," according to Tiffany Brooks, interior designer and host of the new HGTV show "$50K Three Ways." In 2013, she won HGTV's Design Star.
"Try to stick to under $5,000 for a sofa, because sectionals can get up there, too," Brooks says.
That's a big purchase, and one you probably don't want to make until you must. Here's how long a sofa should last and how to make your couch last longer.
Experts agree that a new, quality sofa should last you at least a decade. "A good sofa should be able to last you 10 to 15 years, but it's not a hard and fast rule," says Lexie Sachs, textiles director at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
There are many indicators that a couch is nearing or at the end of its life. "The clearest sign is that the cushions are sagging, whether it's the seat cushion, back cushion, or both," Sachs says. "Another sign is that the fabric is stained, damaged, or smelly to the point it can't be fixed."
If your sofa isn't comfortable anymore and you can feel the springs, that's a sign it might be time to replace it, Brooks says. Also if it's not level anymore: "If your sofa is leaning toward one side, maybe it's time to get rid of it."
If you want to save money on a couch, buying a used one is a good option. However, you don't want to buy one that is so worn you'll have to buy a replacement in a year.
To ensure a used couch is in good shape, always see it in person before agreeing to buy it, Sachs says. "There may be issues that you can't see, like bedbugs, dust mites, or stuck-in smells such as smoke," if you're buying it from an online marketplace. "When you do see it, thoroughly inspect both the fabric and frame to check for damage, and make sure the cushions aren't sagging or lumpy."
You should also look for a tag that indicates whether the couch contains added flame retardants. Until 2014, couch manufacturers built couches with chemicals to meet certain flammability laws. These chemicals were meant to make couches less flammable but weren't effective and were linked to cancer. After 2014, manufacturers were required to clearly label whether they put flame retardant chemicals in their couches.
When looking at a used couch, search for this tag, Sachs says: "Besides showing you there are no extra chemicals, it also lets you know if the couch was originally sold before or after 2014."
"Ideally you should give it a good cleaning twice a year, even if there aren't any visible spills," Sachs says. This will help remove dust mites and keep it fresh.
Also, make sure you're treating it like a couch, Brooks says: "Try not to jump on it. It's not a trampoline."
Some people throw away their couches prematurely, Brooks adds. Instead of buying a whole new couch, reupholster and restuff your current one. Reupholstering costs between $700 and $1,000, she says, and restuffing might be an extra $100.
Brooks has had her two couches for 14 years. Instead of paying upwards of $5,000 to replace the set, she might reupholster. "You can get an entirely new look by selecting a different fabric," she says. "And imagine saving that money."
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