We all know when to throw away medicine bottles or boxes of pasta, because they come clearly labelled with a ‘best by’ date. However, your furniture — especially if it’s custom made — is not as easy to categorize! The durability of your furniture depends on a great many factors, including the quality of materials used, the location and the usage. A couch in a sparingly used living room, for instance, will last much longer than one that’s in the centre of your family room and is in use pretty much every hour of every day. And of course, vintage furniture stands up to time very well and some pieces even last through generations.
So how do you determine when a piece of furniture should be replaced? While there are no hard and fast rules, here’s a ready reckoner.
Upholstered Sofa and Armchairs
Is your sofa shaky, and does it creak in protest when you sit down? It’s probably on its last legs (literally!), and the frame and springs might need to be upgraded. If the cushions are sagging and the upholstery is faded then you could do a material refresh. Consider the cost of the upgrade against the cost of replacing it entirely with a new sofa, and make your decision. Sometimes repairs can be too much of a hassle and could be prohibitively expensive, which means a completely new sofa could very well be on the cards!
Coffee Tables, Side Tables and Counters
The coffee table in your living room gets a lot of rough handling. Dirty feet, hot mugs of coffee and liquid spills can take their toll. When the surface has become stained or discoloured beyond repair then it’s time to refresh the look. A coffee table with a glass top could get cracked or even broken, which is when it (quite obviously) must be replaced. Laminated tops could get scratched and chipped, and start looking worn out if they are not handled with care.
Kitchen cabinets undergo the most amount of wear and tear on a daily basis. They are subjected to heat, humidity, splashes and spills, and rough handling. The surface of the shutters can get scratched or discoloured, and flat surfaces could get burnt. Channels will give way due to frequent handling and unbalanced loads. A kitchen that’s used well and created out of good, durable materials will last a great many years, but when it is not handled with care —or the materials used are below par—then it might need to be replaced once in five years or so.
Wooden Chairs and Benches
Wooden chairs and benches need to be replaced if the wood is splitting or the legs are rickety. As long as the wood is in good condition, if it’s just the upholstery that is in bad shape it can be easily refurbished. Wooden chairs must be repolished every couple of years and all the nuts and bolts should be tightened.
Dining tables take a lot of rough use, as quite often they become the centre of family activity with homework, board games, family discussions and work from home all happening around the tabletop. When purchasing a dining table, always check for sturdy, reliable construction and durable materials, and it is sure to last long. If the tabletop gets scratched, dented, or discoloured from hot utensils, it’s time for a replacement. A lot of this could be avoided by using table mats and runners. Another reason for an upgrade could be a growing family which calls for more seats at the table.
Bed and Mattress
A bed that has started to creak needs to be replaced, unless you don’t mind noisy interruptions to your sleep! Toddler beds and children’s beds must be replaced when the child has grown too tall to fit comfortably. Your mattress should ideally be replaced every 5 to 10 years, and even earlier if it is not providing good support to your back. Do keep in mind: the cost of replacing a mattress is minuscule compared to the suffering caused when you throw out your back!
Storage Shelving or Dresser Unit
Any storage unit that has a rickety frame, or drawers that do not close or open easily needs to be replaced. Drawers should slide out easily and close airtight. Check to see if the channels need replacement. If they don’t, and it’s not because of the channels, then the entire unit is no longer usable.
Work Desk and Chair
A desk should be replaced when it is shaky or the drawers don’t work well. A work desk or study desk is subject to a lot of wear and tear, and the tabletop can get scratched or worn out. You might also want to replace the unit when you are upgrading to new technology. Office chairs are expected to last no longer than seven years, at the most ten. The castor wheels wear out, the recliner is not as sharp anymore, and the seats lose their comfort.
Balcony and Deck Furniture
Furniture that’s used outside the home takes a solid beating in harsh weather. It can get faded in the sun, or be damaged due to damp and wet conditions. Alternating heat and cold conditions can cause uneven expansion of the material and cause warping. When it starts looking old and becoming unstable, then you know you have to shop for a new set!
Should you replace or restore?
Only you can answer this question! Vintage furniture with sentimental value can be repaired and upcycled, rather than throwing it away entirely. When redoing antique furniture, do invest in the services of a good carpenter who has restoration experience.
If you’re a DIY enthusiast, and the piece of furniture isn’t too expensive, why not try the repair work yourself? You can sharpen your DIY skills and learn a lot in the process. Not only will you save money, but you can spend many happy hours doing something that you enjoy! Of course, you should know when to abort a DIY project that’s going the wrong way, rather than end up with a broken back!
Again, if any piece of furniture is structurally sound and can indeed be restored, by all means, try to do so rather than sending it to the city landfill. Our planet will thank you for it!
Reuse, Upcycle and Recycle
A lot of old furniture ends up getting thrown away when it still has a good many years left in it. Do consider donating to those less fortunate than yourself, or give away such furniture to charity institutions. Chances are, your furniture could be in better condition than what they are currently using and you will be doing them a world of good.
There are also secondhand shops or websites that allow you to sell your used furniture to the highest bidder. A garage sale is also a good idea if you have many items to dispose of.
Would you like advice on replacing or restoring your furniture, so you can make an informed decision? Call a HomeLane expert today. We’re always happy to help!