There are two types of engineered wood: plywood and particleboard (also called fiberboard or composition board.) Plywood is multiple thin layers of lumber glued together under high pressure. Plywood can be very strong and stable in the construction of sofa frames. Particleboard is wood chips and fibers that are glued together, and is much less strong than plywood or hardwood.
While kiln-dried hardwood has been the hallmark of quality furniture for quite some time, furniture-makers and engineers alike often feel that a high-quality plywood (there are different grades and qualities) can be just as structurally sound. A higher number of layers glued together, flush and true construction and interlocking joints make for a very sturdy frame.
There is no cut and dried (forgive the pun) answer to whether a frame will last you a lifetime, as it comes down to researching the manufacturer and trying to derive some basic quality levels across the board. A high-quality plywood frame with interlocking joints can be much sturdier than a kiln-dried wood frame made from a softer wood. (Here's a quick guide to hardwoods and softwoods via diffen.com) The key here is to know the manufacturer, their reputation, and remember to be aware of the key facets of quality materials and construction! Here's a great
- kiln-dried hardwood
- interlocking joints
- doweled and glued joints
- screws, not staples
- softwoods--kiln-dried or otherwise
- low-quality plywoods
What other hints and advice do you have for seeking out quality sofa construction?