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Upholstery Suspension


Photo by Wikipedia Commons

  The best option for upholstery springs is eight way hand-tied. All the best upholstery brands use this method: Classic Leather, Leathercraft, Hancock & Moore, Vanguard, Key City, etc. In fact, Key City uses ten way hand-tied springs, adding double ties at the front and back of each spring where the stress on the upholstery twine is highest.

Individual hand-tied springs allow for slight movement in all directions, making the seat more comfortable for each individual user.

Photo by Hickory Springs

  Drop-in coils are another good choice. The picture at left is from an advertisement by Hickory Springs, one of the most popular makers of this type of upholstery suspension unit.

Drop-in coils are helical coils mounted on a metal frame, so that they can be added to a furniture piece as a complete unit. This gives some of the durability of true eight way hand tied springs without the labor cost of individually tying each spring eight ways.

Crate & Barrel calls their drop-in coils a "Flexolator" system. Nantuckit Furniture and Bassett Furniture also use this type of suspension.

Photo by Flexsteel

  The patented Flexsteel blue steel seat spring is a very long lasting type of spring suspension. Flexsteel patented this suspension technology in 1993, and currently they are the only furniture maker using it. The steel suspension looks very much like alternating steel candy canes with the curved portion facing down. This provides a very strong suspension system, but not the horizontal flexibility of eight way hand-tied springs.

Please note that while Flexsteel's spring suspension has a good reputation for quality, consumers have complained about other aspects of Flexsteel furniture. I can't recommend this brand's overall quality.

  Next down the list in quality are "no-sag" springs. These are also called "serpentine springs", "sinuous springs", etc. Most mid-quality upholstery makers use them: Pottery Barn, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Crate & Barrel, Ashley Furniture, etc.

Contrary to what some furniture makers claim, this type of suspension is far from new and modern. The detail at left is taken from an advertisement in the September 17th, 1948 issue of Life Magazine. Not my idea of cutting edge technology.

Sinuous springs simply don't hold up over time the way eight way hand-tied springs do. If you absolutely must buy furniture made this way, at least make sure you get a break on the price to match the drop in quality.

  The lowest quality upholstery suspension system is made of plain webbing. No springs of any kind, just criss-crossed straps. Avoid investing in furniture made this way. It won't hold up well over time.
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