It is not easy to tell the difference between good quality and poorly made furniture. Most folks buy furniture based on what it looks like and how much it costs. Unless you have studied furniture manufacturing processes and materials, it is far too easy to end up spending your hard-earned money on items that may not last. Furniture is not cheap, so you want to make sure it will stay looking good and comfortable for as long as possible.

I am not suggesting that every piece you purchase should be heirloom quality with a high price tag—quite the opposite. I believe in helping people know the pros and cons of their purchases regardless the price tag.

Here are some tips on how to tell if a sofa, table, or bedroom set is well-made and worth the price.

  • 1.Look for wood furniture constructed using either solid hardwood that is adequately kiln-dried or plywood that is at least eight layers.
  • 2. If you buy pine furniture, buy from a manufacturer who selects the wood, properly dried, without knots. Knots are more prone to cracking. Also, proper manufacturers use varnish, not used car oil. If it smells like car oil, avoid it!
  • 3.Stay away from press board (IKEA/Walmart/Grocery Store) furniture if you want it to last. It will not stand up in the humidity and is prone to termites.
  • 4.On any wood furniture, check the joints. Choose ones that are screwed or dowelled. Even better are joints that are dovetailed or mortise and tenon. Check underneath and look for re-enforcing blocks that are attached to corners for additional support. If you see joints that are nailed or stapled or exposed glue, it is a sign that the furniture will not last as long.
  • 5.Veneers are a great solution to get a beautiful piece of furniture at a reasonable price. Make sure the veneer is either solid wood or good plywood.
  • 6.If you purchase a piece of wood furniture such as a desk, dresser or nightstand, better quality items often have dust panels between drawers. These thin sheets of wood make the structure stronger.
  • 7.Always open and close all doors and drawers to make sure they do not stick. Look for drawers that have metal gliders with stops. The higher quality items will have grooves underneath the drawers so that with the change in humidity, they can expand and contract without issue. If there are no metal gliders, it is generally a sign of lower quality workmanship.
  • 8.Since most upholstered furniture is covered by fabric, it is usually impossible to check out the frame. This is where it is critical to get the information from a salesperson. Do not be afraid to ask about the materials used to make the frame. If the salesperson cannot tell you immediately, this is a sign they are interested in your money, not your satisfaction.
  • 9.Ask about the foam. Seat cushions should be made with high resiliency foam (HR), not high density (HD), if you want it to be comfortable for years.
  • 10.Be cautious buying any leather-like product. There are many cheap bonded leather pieces of furniture in big box stores and many Mexican furniture stores. This "tacto piel" cracks and peels within the year. Unscrupulous retailers may try to convince you it is leather. The best way to know it is genuine leather is if you know and trust the brand.

If you are looking for a new piece of furniture, email or Whatsapp me. I am happy to help you buy right the first time, regardless of your budget.

Visit our Puerto Vallarta store: 363A Constitucion just off of Basilio Badillo (Open Mon through Fri 10 to 2). If you are not currently in Mexico, email us at or Whatsapp us at +3221365156.

Join our Facebook Group: Mexico Furniture and Décor for ideas and inspiration.