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6 Easy Ways to Spot a Poor Quality Piece of Furniture—Before You Buy It

Before splurging on a new bed, table, or other piece of furniture for your home, follow these easy tips to ensure it’s a worthy investment.

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Check for a veneer

Veneer is a thin outer layer of wood, typically about 3 mm thick, that is used to coat lower quality wood and give furniture a more attractive appearance. However, wood furniture with veneer is less durable and more susceptible to splintering and other similar damages. (Related: Check out these easy tricks to remove scratches from furniture.)

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Examine the joints

Furniture joints that are stapled, glued, or nailed are an indicator of shoddy craftsmanship. The best furniture joints are either doweled or dovetailed. Both of these techniques involved seamlessly fitting different pieces of wood together so that they are perfectly joined. However, if you’re looking for handmade or antique pieces, be aware of perfect dowels and dovetails, as this indicates a machine-made piece.

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Make sure it doesn’t wobble

No one wants to deal with an annoying wobble in their chair, or having to shove sugar packets under the leg of their kitchen table. Even the most eclectic vintage pieces will feel like a waste of money if you bring it home and realize you never checked whether or not it was level.

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Check foam density

With upholstered furniture, it’s important to check the foam filling before buying a piece. Unzip any outer covers and make sure that the foam block on the inside is covered with fiber and that it’s nice and thick so it does not break down over time.

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Inspect the finish

This is especially important with tables, as they generally take a greater beating than other pieces of furniture. An easy way to check the finish of a piece is to draw a line on the surface with your fingernail. If there’s a line left over when you take your finger away, the finish isn’t up to par. Here’s how to remove water stains from wood.

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Be wary of perfect symmetry

When it comes to picking unique furniture, watch out for perfectly symmetrical pieces. A lack of quirkiness in the wood or finish means that the piece was probably machine-made. Once you’ve finalised your pick, make sure to wait for the right time to buy furniture to make the most of your investment.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest