Need help in learning how to identify a quality dining room chair.
I am wanting to purchase a dining room set or table with acceptably matched chairs, but want the chairs to be quality and stand up to daily use for at least the rest of my lifetime (I'm 45).
I know that quality of brands varies over time (may have been a great company at one time, but now outsourcing) so I can't just go by name/reputation. I am not opposed to finding used items in resale shops. I am not opposed to paying a fair price for quality work. I am concerned about paying $700+ and having the legs start wobbling and falling off and wood splitting after normal daily use.
In shopping for chairs, some chairs have the black cloth stapled over the bottom and you cannot see the construction, although you can feel through the fabirc what it is at times if the cloth is loose. Also, how much do cross bars (don't know the technical term--but wood bars that connect the four legs) help with quality?
I prefer traditional styling: Queen Anne, Chippendale, etc...and need upholstered seats for certain family members.
It seems like everything I have looked at has screwed in legs. Is this good? Any advice on what to look for or what to avoid would be so much appreciated as this is something which will receive consistent use. Thank you!
Duane's the expert, and there are others here who know a lot more than I do, but I'll share some thoughts.
If you want chairs that will last a lifetime, you need to consider what the chair will be made of, and how it will be upholstered. Odds are a dining room chair will need to be reupholstered at some point during your lifetime, and depending upon the materials, finish and use, is going to have some degree of wear and aging to the finish. That said, I've had a couple of welded metal chairs with vinyl seats, in a white enamel finish, that look close to new - they're more than 20 year sold. They're not going to be confused with fine furniture - I suspect that they were manufactured as commercial restaurant seating - but despite decades of mistreatment, being used as substitutes for stepladders, accidentally being left outside and the like, they're giving every indication that they'll last a lifetime.
How long a chair will last depends in part on how it is used. A cheap chair is always going to be a cheap chair, but a decent or even a high quality chair can suffer if it's mistreated - if people like to tilt back and rest on the rear legs, if kids stand on the seat, if a family member tends to drop food on the upholstery, if pets will sleep on the seat or scratch at the fabric, etc.
If you find a chair in a resale shop, it's easy enough to see if it's solid, if it rocks or wobbles when you sit on it. Try it out. If you find a chair that's been kicking around for a few decades and remains rock solid, odds are it's a solid chair.
The cross-bars are called stretchers. They do add to strength and stability. If you choose a style of chair that does not use stretchers, you'll want to make sure that it's well-constructed - but that's not really any different from a chair with stretchers, as you still want a well-constructed chair and don't want to buy a chair that uses stretchers to make it a bit more difficult to see that it is poorly constructed.
For dining room chairs that I expect to last for 30+ years, I would be looking for mortise and tenon joints, not screw-on legs.
I went with Chippendale-style chairs in tiger maple, from J.L. Treharn, through Duane. They are heavy and rock solid, but not inexpensive.
Thank you, I will look at the site you mentioned. I appreciate your reply.
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