The Complete Sofa Buying Guide

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The Complete Sofa Buying Guide

Because sofas are are the largest pieces of living room furniture, the decor of an entire room is usually centered around one. With all of the sofas, sofa sets, sectionals, and sleeper sofas available, however, basing your choice solely on looks will only get you so far.There are several different types of sofas that are available for your home. Depending on how an individual would like their particular room to look, there are several different styles and features from which a person can choose. Sofas can be the finishing touch to a room and are available in many different shapes and sizes. Purchasing sofas can be a major investment, and looking for a new one can be frustrating and tiring. The amount of space that is available is a critical factor; there will be a few sofa layouts that may not be suitable because of limited space. This buying guide is meant to inform consumers of all the different types of upholstery and sofa styles available for purchase.

Types of Upholstery

One of the main considerations while shopping for sofas is the type of upholstery that covers the frame and cushions. There are numerous types and styles available, and the consumer will have a nearly unlimited options of colours and textures as well. The following chart will provide information about the top 10 sofa upholstery coverings and their advantages and disadvantages.

Type of Upholstery





Natural, soft fibre

Durable and easy to maintain

colour fades, wrinkles with use, can be flammable


Made from the coat of sheep

Soft and warm, preferred in colder climates

Not easy to clean, attracts moths, can fade easily


Made from animal hide (usually cows)

Durable, stylish, ages well, cleans easily

Higher cost, expensive to repair


Synthetic fibre

Resists stains and is easily cleaned, durable

Fades with sun exposure, absorbs water, holds odor


Synthetic fibre often woven into other fabrics

Easy to clean, resists mildew and moths

Collect static electricity, retain body oils and sweat


Synthetic fibre

Inexpensive, resists stains, dries quickly

Wears quickly, attracts oil and grease


Synthetic fibre

Affordable, looks like leather

Not durable, changes temperature easily


Synthetic fibre

Feels like soft wool, non allergenic, washable

Melts easily, easily cut or scraped, soak up oils


Natural protein fibre

Luxurious and comfortable

Requires a lot of care and protection, expensive


Synthetic fibre

Long lasting and easy to clean, very soft, lightweight

Expensive, not as durable as other expensive fabrics, attracts dust

Sofa Types

In addition to selecting the type of upholstery the customer desires, selecting a type of sofa is an equally important decision. Some of the more popular types of sofas include: traditional, sectional, sleeper, convertible, loveseat, divian, contemporary, wood, or metal. The following paragraphs will describe these types more in depth.

Traditional Sofas

It is very common to see traditional sofas in various homes. The traditional sofa is made to seat two to three people comfortably and several different colours and styles are available. Each of these styles will range from formal to contemporary. Typically, traditional sofas are placed in the living room or den for entertaining purposes. These sofas come with a wide range of options. Some are less gregarious in that they do not contain any special features such as a comfortable pull out bed or victorian designs. However, some may feature a reclinable back or an extendable footrest. Newer models with these additional options also can come with a motor that mechanically reclines the back or extends the footrest.

Sectional Sofas

Depending on the features and other requirements that you may need, sectional sofas are available in four pieces or more. Unlike traditional sofas, the sectional sofa can be taken apart and placed in different places around the room making it a very popular option. Several people tend to use this type of sofa because of the versatility in mixing and matching the pieces. Many people refer to these sofas as “space savers” and depending upon how much space you have to spare, these sectionals are available in an “L” shape and a circular shape. There are several different options and features that come along with these sofa types. Depending on what you need, there are even pieces that will recline or have an extendable footrest and some that may have multiple arm rests. These sofas can seat a large group of people comfortably, but this will depend on the amount of pieces purchased.

Sleeper Sofas

People who have small living quarters will need to be mindful of the space they can spare while choosing the type of sofa to purchase. Luckily, they have the option of sleeper sofas, which are perfect for limited space. The sleeper sofa is able to accommodate one to three people and can provide a place to sit and relax during the day as well as a place to sleep at night. The cushions and pillows are removable in order to extract the folded bed that is constructed into the frame. Another reason to buy this sofa would be the instance one needs to accommodate overnight guests. The only disadvantage of sleeper sofas is its weight in comparison to other styles. Having a built in bed can make the sofa significantly heavier and may not be ideal for those who move often.

Convertible Sofas

Convertible sofas are quite popular for rooms with limited space. This type of sofa is quite similar to the sleeper sofa, as it provides the dual action of a bed and sofa as well as the sleeper sofa. With a convertible sofa, however, the cushions from the sofa will become your mattress. The convertible sofa is a bit more popular than the sleeper sofa because it is more user-friendly and cheaper. Newer editions of the convertible sofa may even come with an inflatable mattress that make sleeping more comfortable.

Loveseat Sofas

Loveseat sofas are another type that is great for limited space. This is a mini sofa that seats one or two people. It’s a nice addition to a small room or space. In some instances, people are able to place two of these sofas facing each other so that conversation and entertaining can be made easy. They are available with many of the same options that traditional sofas or sectional sofas have, such as reclinable back or an extendable footrest. Loveseat sofas are perfect for company with couples.

Divan Sofas

The divan sofa is more unique and often considered an acquired taste. Several people place this sofa against a wall because of it’s backless feature. In order to add comfort, pillows are usually placed on the sofa. There is also a reclining feature available with most divan sofa sets for those who seek versatility in positions.

Contemporary Sofas

Contemporary and modern sofas share similar styles. Most contemporary sofas have a round or box style with sleek lines, and often quite unique from more traditional sofas. These sofas can become quite expensive due to their architecture, assembly, and upholstery quality. Contemporary sofas are quite popular in today’s society. These sofas will add a sleek and modern design to any room. These sofas are available in several different, styles colours, and designs. Many buyers put these sofas in their entertaining rooms to show off their unique style and taste.

Wood or Metal Frame Sofas

Sofas of this type will have metal or wood frames that are exposed. The upholstered cushions will remain on top of the frame. In most instances, these cushions are able to be switched out to personalize your own style, colour, and comfort level to a specific room. The wood frame sofa and metal frame sofa are not nearly as popular as the previous options.

Victorian Settee Sofas

The last sofa type that this guide will cover is the Victorian Settee. This sofa features a wooden frame and has an antique look and feel to it. Like the wood and metal framed sofas, the seats will be upholstered with fabric for comfort. This type of sofa can be quite expensive, but replicas are often available at much lower prices.

Protecting Sofas

Once a sofa is purchased, it’s natural for the consumer to want it looking new for as long as possible, so preventing stains is another factor to consider. Frequently entertaining guests will lead to wear and tear on furniture as well as stains and marks. In order to keep the furniture looking as good as new, plastic or slip covers work well. However, there are also many cleaning products available that will aid in keeping the sofas upholstery looking as good as new. Cleaning can be done as the need arises, but preventative and periodic maintenance is highly recommended.

Additional Considerations

With so many options in the marketplace, purchasing a sofa can often become quite frustrating, especially if a consumer isn’t sure of which type of sofa they desire. An important starting point is to consider the space available in the area you want to place your sofa. If there is an ample amount of space, design, and decoration possibilities are unlimited. When minimal space is involved, there are still several options, but it will narrow the choices considerably. Budgeting is also an important factor to consider, as sofa prices vary widely depending the upholstery, type, and additional features.

How to Purchase Sofas on eBay

Sofas can be found in various of brick-and-mortar stores, however buying sofas on eBay provides a wide selection and convenient shopping. The first step is to use eBay’s search feature by keying in the phrase, “sofas.” If you know the specific style or upholstery you are hoping to purchase, it’s suggested to include that along with the phrase. For those who are not sure exactly which sofa they wish to purchase, they can use eBay’s helpful categories. These categories may have their own subcategories to help customers filter results.

Once a product has been chosen, it’s time to research the seller. Every seller on eBay has feedback posted from previous customers. By reading this feedback, potential customers can learn the shipping methods and reliability of the seller which can make the virtual experience more personable. Customers can also message sellers if they have any questions regarding the product. This is an ideal feature when adequate information has not been provided in the description or within the picture. After finding the seller and product, the buyer will need to register for free on eBay in order to complete their purchase.


Sofas are a popular piece of furniture that many people find essential in their homes. A sofa can be the last and crowning piece to the puzzle of completing a particular room. With all of the designs, styles, colours and different fabrics available, a buyer will certainly be able to find something that suits their home. Keep in mind that when shopping for sofas it is imperative to consider space, style, upholstery, and design. Whether the consumer decides to purchase a traditional or modern sofa, a leather or microfibre sofa, or a sofa that reclines and has an extendable footrest, remember that each type of sofa has their own unique style and design that has the ability to turn an entire room into something luxurious and unique. Shopping online at websites such as eBay offers the consumer a wide variety of sofas from which to choose while affording them the convenience of shopping from their own home.

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