You’ve probably looked at a couch or chair, whether online or in person, and thought to yourself, how is this thing made?!?!
Well, let's go over the general construction of the Flexxform lounge seating. We will simply explain our construction, then back off and let you decide if our construction compares with other manufacturers.
We will cover the following points:
In the soft seating/lounge furniture market there is a large variation in how frames are built.
Some manufacturers use cut-offs from another manufacturing process, such as office desks, or cupboards. Some manufacturers use cheap plywood, often sourced from overseas to keep their costs down. Others will use a particle board or ‘chip board’ as their frames.
And some manufacturers use solid wood.
Understanding the Different Types of Wood
Let’s quickly touch on the difference between plywood, particleboard, OSB, and solid wood.
Plywood is many pieces of wood slices that are glued together into around 1/8” layers. These layers are then glued together to create your ¼”, ½”, ¾” plywood, etc. Therefore, when you are looking at the side of a sheet of plywood you can see the different layers.
Particleboard is exactly that, a bunch of small pieces, or particles, of shredded/ground-up wood. This wood is glued together to create your board or sheet to the thickness you desire. Both plywood and particle board often use recycled excess wood that is leftover from creating other products, such as office desks.
OSB is easiest explained as halfway between plywood and particleboard. It is constructed of smaller rectangular wood strands that are glued into a crisscross orientation to create the board.
Then there is solid wood. Solid wood is cut straight from the trunk or large limb of the tree. It is not ground up and glued back together because it comes from larger pieces of solid wood.
In a strength test from weakest to strongest it usually goes, again we will repeat usually goes, particleboard, OSB, plywood, and then solid wood as the strongest. Many factors play in this but next time you are at a hardware store I would recommend that you go to the lumber section and check out the difference for yourself!
How is Flexxform's Frame Constructed?
Now we will jump into our frame construction. All our frames are constructed with 100% solid wood. We mostly work with beech wood, a little bit of oak, and, yes, a small portion of plywood/OSB.
As beech wood is a very strong lumber, that is cheaper and lighter than oak, we use beech for most of the frame construction.
But we use oak on the base where the legs/feet mount to the frame. Oak is expensive and heavy, so it does not make business sense to construct the whole chair from oak. If you were to try and lift a fully oak framed chair you most likely will need a ride to the chiropractor as the chair will be incredibly heavy. Not to mention the fact that your bank account will be as light as a feather if you were to purchase an oak framed chair!
Let’s cover the plywood/OSB aspect of our products.
If you were to tear one of our chairs apart you would see a small section of plywood or OSB (this is not in every design). This is simply to support some of the internal components of the chair and add strength.
Other than this small portion of plywood/OSB in a few of our frames, everything is constructed from one complete piece of lumber. Simply explained, if a piece of wood inside the chair is 2’, or 24”, long, you won’t find any joints or seams in that piece of wood, each piece of wood is one solid piece from start to finish.
How Our Frame is Held Together
This leads us to the joins, or seams, of our chairs.
Like every wood-framed chair, our frames have many joins. Joins are the point where the wood needs to change direction to create the desired chair design. So, every one of our seams is glued and stapled. This means that the seams become stronger than the individual piece of wood itself. That may ‘seam’ crazy but it’s true! (har har, got to love the pun!)
Our Use of Springs
The final part that we are going to include in the frame portion of this blog is our use of springs and elastic, depending on the chair design.
These moving parts are placed between the frame and the foam to provide extra comfort on our chairs, and to ensure that you aren’t sitting on a hard piece of wood. The benefit of the elastic material is to provide a comfortable cushion for the foam to sit on. No matter what version of support we use it is fastened to the frame using a metal fastener.
Ok, phew…I think we have covered the frame! The rest will go faster we promise.
Uncovering the Secret Sauce
So, this portion is difficult to write as these tips and tricks are the secret ingredients that set us apart from most lounge furniture manufacturers. But you as the reader and potential client deserve to know the tricks we use to make our furniture stand out!
Firstly, we put fabric between the springs and foam inside the chair. Let me explain why…
Have you ever sat down on a couch or chair, and it squeaks - as if it’s complaining that you are sitting on it? Most of these squeaks come from the foam rubbing on the springs. When foam rubs on steel springs it creates friction, which creates heat, which then leads to the foam creating a hard crust on the outside layer, where it touches the springs. This hard crust then rubs on the springs which creates that annoying squeak.
(Wow that last paragraph sounds like it's Halloween with all the ‘Which’s’. Two corny points so far…we will try and hit 4 by the end of this…)
When you add fabric between the foam and the springs it makes the foam last longer as well, as it is protecting the foam. And it also prevents those squeaks every time you sit down or get up and out of your seat!
The second little trick we use is, the corners of the wood frame are rounded.
In most of our designs, there is a 90° corner or some degree of point. But you can be assured that under the upholstery that sharp point of wood is rounded, and all sharp edges are removed. This ensures that the wood frame is not rubbing away at the upholstery from the inside out. This then prevents the upholstery from ripping, giving it a longer lifetime!
And our last trick (the last one we are going to share anyways…), every surface, aside from the bottom, has a layer of foam on it.
Yes, you read that correctly. Every surface has foam on it. This does a few things for you. First, it makes the chair very comfortable, but more importantly, it provides a buffer between the wood frame and the upholstery.
All right, I think we have covered the tricks for our frames. Let’s move on to the foam that we use!
About Flexxform's Foam
In every product, we manufacture we use high-density foam.
Hot off the press (or sewing table I guess), our high-density foam is not super plush or comfortable the moment you first sit in it. Often quite the opposite of most new chairs. But the reason that we use high-density foam is that it holds its shape for many, many years of high use. It does not compress as much as low-density foam. No matter how long you sit on the high-density foam it will not compress with your body heat to the point that you are sitting on the springs or frames, as you may be used to with some other furniture.
The natural beauty of high-density foam is that it automatically goes back to its original shape shortly after the weight and heat (your body) are removed. It will fill the upholstery out and hold it tight, unlike low-density foam that, over time, will cease filling out its original size, which leads to the upholstery creating little waves, bumps, or puddling, as it is referred to in the industry.
Flexxform's Upholstery & Stitching
Simply the term that we use to describe the covering of a chair. This can be fabric, vinyl, leather, etc.
Our standard upholstery is vinyl from J Ennis. It is the Challenger collection of vinyl. This vinyl has a 1.5 million double rub guarantee… which means that you can get on and off the chair, 1.5 million times before the vinyl will wear out.
A double rub is best explained as a “back and forth”. This is not proven by someone physically getting on and off a chair, but it is tested by a machine rubbing the upholstery back and forth, creating the term double rubs!
Besides stocking and recommending this very high-quality vinyl, we also have a very high-quality method of stitching and sealing the seams in the upholstery.
Every seam is double stitched, which means that it is stitched twice in separate areas and ways, rather than a single line of thread, which is referred to as a single stitch. Take a peek at a seam on your clothing. If there is one line of stitching it is single-stitched. If there are two lines of stitching it is double stitched (normally seen on heavier-duty clothing - jeans/work clothes, etc.).
In short, double-stitching the upholstery makes it stronger as there is twice the amount of thread holding the upholstery together.
Now, here is the real kicker…!
On the back of every seam, we add an additional fabric called India Tape. This tape helps in two ways.
First, it adds incredible strength to the seam, as the India Tape is stitched on either side of the seam. And second, because every seam is backed by another piece of strong fabric it provides a moisture barrier as it is another layer that the moisture must penetrate.
Obviously, our product isn’t waterproof - If you put the furniture in a pool, it will get waterlogged.
But being reasonable…
If you spill a drink on the upholstery all you have to do is wipe the liquid off you will be good to go (providing that the upholstery chosen is water-resistant).
And finally, adding this fabric to the back of every seam is another barrier for bed bugs, lice, etc. It is not to say they won’t get in, but this is just another obstacle to frustrate their efforts.
Warranty, ahh the beautiful argument that every manufacturer markets until there is an issue! I know I know, sarcastic…but let’s get real. How many times have you actually had someone hold up their end of the deal when it comes to furniture?!?!
Well, I’ll make this simple - You have two options.
1. Read a long-winded boring sheet about what is covered and not covered by our warranty.
-- OR --
2. Go in faith and use the following statement…
If the upholstery is usable and something fails in the construction of the chair, we will replace the chair/sofa or whatever product you have.
What this means, in simple terms, is that if the chair has not been abused (aka the upholstery is still usable) and something fails beneath the upholstery the cause is a workmanship error on our part. We are going to stand up, take responsibility, and get that chair replaced for you!
Now, of course, this works both ways, you must trust us, and we have to trust you to make this system work. Provide us with photos and a little explanation of what happened, and we’ve got your back!
We hope this helped you understand the insides of your next soft seating purchase. Now, as promised we will back off and let you decide what the most important factor is for your next purchase!