It’s not uncommon to hear the age old adage “things aren’t made like they were back in the day.” This typically references the fact that furniture, among many other consumables, are not made with the same level of quality as they were in prior years. With the phrase comes the real question of its validity. Are heavier, older pieces of furniture really that much better in quality? Let’s dive into it.
What makes a piece of furniture high quality? Is the older, heavier furniture actually superior?
One of the first earmarks of traditional quality furniture is the material used to make it. Traditionally furniture was made with real wood or at a minimum wood veneer. Solid wood and wood veneer weighs more and is therefore heavier than cheaper, modern-day furniture. Currently most furniture is made with subpar materials such as plastic, laminate, and particle board. These materials are less expensive and in turn naturally less durable. This means that they do not last as long making the more traditional furniture better in quality. Simply put, you won’t find a piece of heirloom furniture among the cheaper, assembled products that are being mass produced and sold today.
Another consideration to determine if older, heavier furniture is better in quality is the way it is constructed. Many times more traditional furniture has a higher quality frame, finish, and set of joints. This means that the product is not only more functional, i.e. a chair is less wobbly and more structurally sound, but that it will look better initially and for an extended amount of time. Furthemore, with nicer furniture comes better joints. This means that the product will function better overall. When looking at furniture it is best to avoid items that are pieced together with staples, glue, cheap nails. Instead opting for a product that contains dovetail or mortise and tenon joints is the better choice. These joints are typically only found in older, heavier items and therefore make them higher in quality. Finally, older, heavier pieces of furniture tend to have a nicer finish. This nicer finish typically makes them easier to refinish if necessary. All of these components lead you to understand that traditional furniture is more elegant.
A final consideration which shows that older, heavier furniture is higher in quality is the craftsmanship. Currently most furniture is created in a warehouse or factory and is mass produced, placed in a box, and assembled in the home by the consumer. However, more traditional furniture is either completely handmade or at a minimum assembled by the manufacturer. With this assembly, comes a higher degree of quality and increased level of durability that is desired.
Even though the cheaper, quicker furniture made and sold today can be appealing and certainly less expensive, the quality is lacking. It is simply not made with the same enduring materials which will invariably lead to lower consumer satisfaction and a quicker rate of replacement. When considering all of the variables and differences in “fast” furniture and the more traditional, heavier furniture, the latter is clearly superior.