How the Price of Home Furniture is Determined | Douglas Furniture
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As a homeowner and a consumer, you've purchased many items before, including furniture, but have you ever wondered why the furniture you buy costs what it does? Likely not; knowing how retailers price their factory outlet furniture isn't a part of the customer experience..

However, there are many factors which contribute to the final price of furniture and knowing more about them can help you to make an informed decision. Furniture is made from several materials, including, wood, metal, glass, Lucite, and plastic. Most family homes contain wood furniture, so let's begin with that.

Dark Brown Hardwood Dining Table Set

Identifying Different Types of Wood

As far as wood furniture is concerned, there are several different types of materials. These include composites, veneer, and solid wood. Of course, any furniture that's made of solid wood will have a higher price than any other type of furniture. Each wood type has its advantages and disadvantages, as well as cost.

Wood Composite

"Composite" refers to wood products that have been manufactured using real wood. There are two main types of wood composite: plywood and particleboard. Plywood is made from several thin wooden sheets that have been glued and then pressed together.

Plywood has several advantages. It can be bent and shaped permanently, making it an ideal choice for contemporary furniture manufacturers. As well, plywood is strong and resists swelling, shrinking and warping.

Particleboard is constructed of a mixture of sawdust, resin, or glue and small wood chips. This mixture is pressed and pressure-treated. Even so, particleboard will swell and shrink. The next level of particleboard, called hardboard, has been pressed together to a higher degree, making it more durable.


Veneer is a popular product. Found on all kinds of pieces at various furniture prices, veneer is very useful. Its construction combines a very thinly sliced piece of wood and plywood. The 1/28 inch piece of wood is attached to a wood or plywood base.

The trick with identifying the quality of veneer lies in the type of wood used in the veneer as well as the base material. For example, if the veneer is of a higher quality than the base material, it will only last as long as the base. So, if the base tends to swell and crack, this will place stress on the veneer, which is supposed to hold it all together.

Although nothing lasts forever, you can identify the quality of veneer by ensuring it is properly attached to its base material. To do this, simply run a fingernail along the veneer's edge. Any loose spots or gaps will cause the veneer to loosen in the future.


There's no comparison to the look of solid wood. However, solid wood is quite costly and can be vulnerable to water rings and scratching. When choosing affordable furniture made of solid wood, hardwoods like walnut, cherry, maple, oak, and teak can be ideal where durability is important.

The properties of hardwood will vary, even within a single wood species. For example, Maple can range in color from light beige to tan, and ebony from brown to nearly black.


Furniture made of softwoods is more readily available because softwoods are more available than hardwoods. The high availability of softwoods makes them less expensive to purchase. Although softer and more vulnerable to dents and scratches, furniture made from softwood can last for many years if use will be intermittent or it is more of a presentation piece.

Mahogany Hardwood Bed Frame With Posts

Softwoods also vary greatly in color within a single species. One example is cedar, which can range in color from brown to white. Pine is another with varying color; this particular softwood can range from tan and yellow to orange.

Light Grey Lounge Chair With Metal Studs

Metal in Furniture

Metal can be found most commonly in the frames of upholstered furniture. There are a few considerations when choosing the right metal frame. First, there are several types of metal used in furniture frames: stainless steel, aluminum, and iron. Iron and steel are used extensively, with cast iron most commonly seen in outdoor furniture.

Stainless steel can be found in many modern furniture pieces, and for good reason. Stainless steel possesses high tensile strength, which allows it to be used as a support and body piece, as well as for slides and hinges.

Aluminum is both light and corrosion-resistant. This metal can be found in all manner of furniture, and cast and stamped furniture manufacturing relies on the heavy use of aluminum.

As it affects cost, metal furniture or pieces containing metal are typically priced according to its thickness and metal type. The thicker and more durable the metal is, the more it will cost.

Furniture Features

In addition to the materials that wooden furniture is made of, certain features will also affect the purchase price whether you buy furniture online or off. One of the most common features to keep an eye on is upholstery.

The upholstery in furniture can be made from several different materials. However, the construction of upholstered furniture will be an instrumental part of how long your furniture will last. If you are able to lift the cushion of an upholstered piece, check the quality by pressing on the piece under the cushion. A high-quality piece will respond with resistance and will feel even, in terms of spacing, when you run your hand across it.

A squeeze of the arms and back of the piece will tell you a lot about quality. The padding should be sufficient so as not to allow you to feel the frame.

Leather Upholstery

Furniture that has been upholstered with leather will definitely be priced higher than other upholstery types. This is because leather offers remarkable durability and can last for years if the right type of treated leather is chosen.

Leather used as upholstery is typically colored using one of two methods. It is either colored using dyes alone or by using a dye and a pigment. Upholstery colored with dye alone is referred to as unfinished, while that colored by dye and pigment is considered to be finished.

Unfinished Brown Leather Sofa

Unfinished Leather

Upholstery with unfinished leather will feel soft and supple to the touch and present a rich and deep color. This makes furniture look and feel very luxurious and, as a result, furniture upholstered with unfinished leather is the most expensive kind.

Unfortunately, unfinished leather is vulnerable to staining, due to the highly porous nature of the hides used. As well, UV rays will cause the color to fade—sometimes rapidly.

Finished Leather

Finished leather, although dyed with the same dye as its unfinished counterpart, will go through a secondary coloring process in which a pigmented finish is applied. This finish adds flexibility to the leather, which allows it to breathe.

On top of this finish, a clear coating is applied, which serves as the primary protective layer. This layer can cause furniture to have a glossy to a matte sheen, depending on the composition of the clear coat.

Finished leather is also easier to clean, and its color fades very gradually. For these reasons, finished leather upholstery is often chosen for family or living rooms.

As a result of these treatments, complete living room sets made of finished leather upholstery will not have the same softness or suppleness as unfinished leather. However, it will have durability, as well as be far more resistant to staining.

Finished leather is also easier to clean, and its color fades very gradually. For these reasons, finished leather upholstery is often chosen for family or living rooms.

White Fabric Sofa With Metal Studs

Fabric Upholstery

When it comes to fabric upholstery, there are literally thousands of choices for construction, pattern, and color. The cost of fabric upholstery will vary widely as a result. However, as with any furniture, your decision should be based on how your sofa will be used. For example, a household with pets may benefit more from durable microfiber or leather.

In terms of pattern, woven patterns offer higher durability than printed patterns. Similarly, the tighter the weave and higher the thread count, the stronger a fabric will be.

Depending on where you live, you may need your upholstery to be able to stand up to certain conditions. Fade-resistant fabrics are ideal for any furniture that will spend a lot of its life in direct sunlight. Humid climates will require fabric with mildew resistance, and households where allergies are present will benefit from lint-free and dust-repelling fabrics like microfiber.

Getting Quality at a Competitive Price

Now that you know more about furniture, your next decision will be to choose a retailer. A quality retailer will be committed to giving you the lowest possible price for your furniture, showing that commitment by always keeping an eye on competitor prices.

Douglas Furniture has been providing quality home furniture to customers in Southern California since 1975. Visit our showroom or call 661-255-8421 to learn more.