Buying Furniture
Things to Know Before You Shop for Wood Furniture

First Things First
What is your budget?

Though you may not stick to it, a budget for purchasing furniture is a good guideline when you begin shopping. If you appreciate quality construction, fine, rare wood, or unique design you may be tempted to spend more for these features. And you may decide that your budget deserves to be readjusted if you fall in love with something special. But a budget can keep you in line so you don’t spend all your available funds on one piece.

Where will it be used?
When a piece is going to be placed in a family room and used every day, it needs to be durable. Choose wisely, since you'll be opening and closing the drawers or doors often.
But if it is going to be an accent piece in a little-used guest room, durability is not as important as shape and size. If it’s going to receive everyday use, you might want to spend more money. A more decorative piece, while it may end up being the focal point in a room, would not need to break the bank.

How long will you have it?
Wood furniture pieces for the living room, dining room, or bedroom will probably be in your home for a long time. They may even be passed down through generations. You might allow more money for these in your budget. These pieces should be chosen with care and longevity in mind. Furniture for a baby’s room, though adorable, will only be used for 3 to 5 years and will need to be changed as the child grows and his or her activities change. Unless you're a doting grandparent who will spare nothing to have your grandchild have the finest of everything, you may want to cut corners here. Children’s furniture must comply with certain federal regulations and standards, but can be chosen more for charm than long life.

What kind of wood do you like?
All wood furniture is made from either hardwoods (trees that lose their leaves seasonally) or softwoods (from trees that keep their leaves year round). Oak and teak are hardwoods that really are hard and heavy. Fine hardwoods like walnut, mahogany, maple, cherry, or oak are found in the most expensive pieces. Softwoods like pine are used in less formal pieces. Some woods have a nearly smooth, unpatterned finish, while others have very noticeable grain lines
Is the wood solid, bonded, or veneer?
”Solid walnut” furniture means that all exposed parts of the piece are walnut. But the frame and inner parts may be of other, less-costly wood. Because timber cut from trees is not the size or shape required for furniture, bonding is often used to join pieces together to form larger pieces.

Do the components work properly?
Be sure that the drawers of a chest or cabinet fit well and slide easily on glides and stop flush with the front. Drawers should have dust panels to keep the contents clean, and the insides should be smoothly finished. Doors on cabinets should open and close easily with hardware that is of high quality, installed securely. If the piece has interior lights, their switches should be easy to access. If the piece is to be used as an entertainment center or computer station, holes should be drilled for electrical cords. Be sure that the legs of a table are even and that the table does not “rock.” The finish should be smooth to the touch and the finish on the leaves should match each other and the base.
With all these things in mind, and maybe a checklist, you’re ready to go. As you shop, some elements will be more important than others. But all these guidelines should be considered before you make the final decision to buy.

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