Why Custom Sofas Cost More Than Budget Couches

Written by: Tony Hoang

When it comes to furnishing your living space, the choice between a custom sofa and a budget couch is pivotal. Both options have their unique advantages, but understanding the differences can help you make an informed decision that suits your needs, preferences, and budget. We will explore the various aspects that set custom sofas apart from mass produced budget couches.

Quality of the Sofa Frame

When it comes to choosing a sofa, the frame is a critical component that significantly impacts the piece's overall quality, durability, and longevity. In this article, we will compare and contrast the quality of custom sofas made with solid wood frames to budget sofas that typically utilize plywood or OSB (Oriented Strand Board).

Solid Wood: The Premium Choice

Solid Wood for Sofa Frame

Solid wood represents the pinnacle of quality in furniture construction. Harvested directly from timber, it is the genuine article, providing a level of durability and strength that is hard to match. Here’s why solid wood stands out:

  • Durability: Solid wood frames are incredibly robust, capable of withstanding the test of time and the rigors of daily use. Their resilience is a testament to their quality, ensuring that your sofa remains sturdy and reliable for years to come.
  • Kiln-Dried Quality: Many solid wood frames are kiln-dried, a process that not only ensures the wood is thoroughly dried but also helps to eliminate potential issues with algae, fungus, and mold. This results in a higher quality, cleaner product.
  • Finish and Repair: Solid wood allows for easier finish repairs, ensuring that any scratches or dents can be fixed to look as good as new. This is a significant advantage over other materials that might not take to repairs as kindly.

Plywood: The Budget-Friendly Option

Plywood the Budget Choice


  • Cost-Efficiency: Plywood is readily available and significantly cheaper than solid wood, making it an attractive option for those on a tight budget.
  • Resistance to Bending: Thanks to its cross-grained structure, plywood is resistant to bending, providing a decent level of support and stability for your sofa. 
  • Strength and Durability: While plywood does offer a certain level of strength and durability, it falls short when compared to solid wood, especially over time.

OSB: The Cost-Effective Solution

OSB: The Cost-Effective Solution

OSB (Oriented Strand Board) is another budget-friendly option, utilizing thousands of compressed and glued wood pieces.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: OSB is an economical choice, making use of wood pieces that might otherwise go to waste.
  • OSB’s major drawback is its susceptibility to moisture. In humid climates or if exposed to water, OSB can develop mildew or mold, compromising the integrity of your sofa’s frame.
  • Durability Concerns: Compared to solid wood and even plywood, OSB is less durable, potentially leading to issues with the longevity of your sofa.

The choice between a solid wood frame and budget alternatives like plywood or OSB depends on your priorities. If you’re looking for top-notch quality, unparalleled durability, and a piece that can stand the test of time, a custom sofa with a solid wood frame is the way to go.

Quality of the Sofa Suspension

Sinuous Spring Suspension

Sinuous Spring Suspension: High quality custom sofas commonly use a high-gauge sinuous spring suspension system, which involves bending a thick wire into a continuous S-shape to create tension. These springs are then securely attached to the sofa’s frame at both ends. In a custom sofa & sectional, you will find multiple of these sinuous springs, all crafted and positioned in the same manner, ensuring even support and durability throughout the piece. This method not only provides a firm and comfortable seating experience but also contributes to the overall longevity and quality of the sofa.

Webbing Suspension: Cheaper budget sofas typically utilize a webbing suspension system, which is a straightforward and cost-effective method of providing support. The process involves the craftsperson measuring and cutting strips of webbing to a length slightly shorter than the width of the frame. These strips are then stretched tightly and secured to the frame using specialized clips. To enhance support, this process is repeated with additional strips of webbing placed perpendicularly, creating a woven grid. However, it's important to note that while webbing suspension systems can offer a decent level of durability and support, they may not be the best choice for households with large pets or active children. The repeated impact from jumping can cause the webbing to wear out more quickly, potentially compromising the sofa's integrity and comfort over time.

Quality of the Couch Seat Cushion

Polyester Fiber Wrapped High Resilience Foam Core Cushion

Foam Core

High Resilience foam stands out as the premier choice for sofa cushions, offering unparalleled comfort and an impressive lifespan. This type of foam is characterized by its buoyancy and resilience, ensuring that it quickly regains its original shape after being compressed. This results in a bouncy yet supportive cushion, perfect for those who prefer a more responsive seating experience. The open-cell structure of High Resilience foam contributes to its springiness, while still providing solid support. Durability is another strong suit of this foam, with its lifespan ranging from eight to ten years before it starts to soften. To further enhance its durability and support, High Resilience foam is typically wrapped in a layer of polyester fiber, ensuring that it maintains its quality and comfort for an extended period.

Cheap Commercial Grade Polyurethane Foam Cushion: 

Commercial Foam

Budget sofas tend to be made with more affordable construction materials, resulting in the use of lower quality foam, often Commercial Grade Polyurethane foam. This type of foam is cost-effective but lacks quality and durability. It tends to wear out quickly, leading to the development of sagging areas in the cushioning. Once these sink areas form, the foam is unable to bounce back to its original shape. Typically, Commercial Grade Polyurethane foam has a lifespan of one to two years and features a slower recovery time when compressed, compared to higher quality foam options.

Quality of the Sofa Fabric

Quality of the Fabric

Opting for a custom sofa grants you greater control over the fabric quality, as you have the opportunity to personally sample and select the fabric prior to the sofa’s construction. This ensures that you can make an informed decision regarding the fabric’s quality and durability. Performance fabrics, known for their resilience, are a common choice for custom sofas. These fabrics typically boast a double rub count exceeding 30,000, ensuring everyday use durability that can span over two decades. A fabric’s double rub count is a direct indicator of its durability and resistance to wear and tear; a higher count signifies a fabric that is well-suited for frequent use and high-traffic areas, making it an excellent investment for long-lasting furniture.

Quality of Labor & Craftsmanship

Quality of Labor & Craftsmanship

Custom sofas are meticulously crafted within the United States by skilled artisans specializing in woodworking and upholstery. These professionals possess the expertise to create sofas in various sizes, tailored to meet the specific preferences and unique design requirements of each customer. The level of craftsmanship involved in a custom sofa is evident in the attention to detail, from achieving flawless straight seams to mastering the art of foam carving for a sculpted profile. This high degree of craftsmanship, however, is also reflected in the sofa’s price.

On the other hand, budget sofas are typically manufactured overseas on assembly lines, designed to produce large quantities quickly and cost-effectively to meet the demands of mass consumers. In this production setting, each worker is responsible for a specific part of the sofa’s assembly, leaving little to no room for customization or the artisanal craftsmanship found in custom sofa building. This streamlined process helps to keep costs low but does not offer the same level of quality and attention to detail as a custom-made piece.

What A Room Handcrafted Customizable Sofa & L Shaped Sectionals

At What A Room, we take pride in providing top-notch custom couches & L shaped sectionals, meticulously crafted to meet the highest standards of quality and durability. Our couches feature a solid wood frame that has been kiln-dried for added strength, ensuring a sturdy and long-lasting foundation. The cushions are made with a resilient polyfoam core, enveloped in soft polyester for ultimate comfort. To guarantee a supportive seating experience, we incorporate a high-gauge sinuous spring foundation.

Proudly handcrafted in the United States, our couches are made on an individual basis, allowing for extensive customization to suit your unique preferences. We offer the flexibility to adjust the size of your couch down to the very inch, ensuring a perfect fit for your space. Additionally, we provide a vast selection of over 100+ fabric options, ranging from durable performance fabrics and soft microfibers to luxurious woven materials and velvets.

With What A Room custom sofas, you have the freedom to design a couch that aligns with your aesthetic preferences and functional needs, all while ensuring you receive a product of unparalleled quality and craftsmanship.