When buying a new sofa, one specification that is often overlooked is the furniture’s friction performance. Friction refers to how the upholstery materials interact and resist sliding against each other when someone sits down or shifts positions on the sofa. The optimal friction level means the sofa fabrics have enough resistance so that you don’t slide around, but not so much resistance that it’s hard to get comfortable. As you shop for your next sofa, here are some tips on identifying the ideal friction range for your needs.
Consider Your Main Sofa Usage
How you plan to use your sofa has a big impact on ideal friction. If the sofa is mainly for relaxing and lounging, moderate to low friction is best for easy maneuvering as you stretch out to nap or read. For a family room TV sofa where people sit more upright, slightly higher friction prevents sliding out of place. And for a formal living room rarely used sofa, high friction upholstery may be acceptable. Make sure to test sofas in person sitting in your typical positions.
Check Upholstery Materials
Friction level largely comes down to the sofa upholstery textiles used. Leather and vinyl have the highest resistance, which can make reclining uncomfortable. Cotton, linen and wool offer much lower friction for easy shifting. Polyester and microfiber can go either way depending on weave and coatings. If a fabric feels very smooth or slippery, friction is likely fairly low. Rough, textured fabrics grip more. Blends can balance properties of both materials.
Consider Cushion Fill
The materials used inside the sofa cushions also influence friction performance. Foam cushions tend to allow more sliding around than fiberfill or down options. Very soft, plush cushions conform to the body for less resistance. Firm, resilient cushions gently push back to stabilize positioning. Test cushions by pressing in with your hand at different spots to gauge differences.
Check Upholstery Tailoring
Details in how the upholstery fabric is tailored and attached to the sofa frame impacts friction. A tight fit with minimal seams and wrinkles prevents the fabric from shifting against itself as much. A loose fit or puffy seams and tufts allows more internal fabric movement and lower friction. However, extremely taut fabrics sacrifice comfort. Ensure upholstery feels taut yet flexible.
Evaluate Friction Over Time
Friction level can change as the sofa is used and upholstery wears in. At first very stiff, high friction fabrics like leather become more pliable and smoother. Lower friction fabrics may pick up surface texture over time. Assess showroom floor model sofas for visible wear patterns at key seating touchpoints. Check for signs of pilling or pulls signaling potential friction changes.
Consider Added Surface Treatments
Many sofas get additional chemical treatments during manufacturing to enhance certain properties like stain protection or waterproofing. Topical coatings and finishes can significantly alter the base upholstery friction. A slick sealant dramatically reduces fabric-on-fabric grip, while added texture finishes boost it. Check label details and ask whether friction will be impacted.
Test Sofa Friction In Store
The best way to gauge a specific sofa’s friction performance is to actually sit on display models in the furniture showroom. Mimic how you would use the sofa at home – sitting upright, leaning back, shifting positions. See how easy it is to slide into place or if you feel glued in one spot. Bring other household members along for the friction testing if they’ll share sofa use.
Evaluate Friction At Multiple Touchpoints
Be sure to check friction at points beyond just the main seat cushion. Lounge back with your head on the back cushions. Swing your legs up onto the sofa arm. Scoot from one side to the other. You want adequate resistance across all expected body contact areas for proper sliding control. If you spot low and high friction zones on the same sofa, consider looking elsewhere.
Prioritize Seat Cushion Friction
The optimal friction range for the part of the sofa where the seat cushions meet your backside and legs should be your top priority. This is the main contact area where you want control over sliding without feeling locked in place. If the rest of the sofa has slightly more or less friction, it likely won’t impact comfort much for most users.
Factor In Furniture Shape
The silhouette and shape of the sofa frame and cushions impacts friction needs at different seating spots. For example, a tight, bucket-style seat requires higher friction to keep from sliding forward. A gently curved roll arm needs very little friction material. Look for upholstery friction that complements the sofa shape.
Consider Adding Throws Or Pillows
If you find a sofa you love with slightly more or less friction than ideal, you can easily adjust it yourself. Adding a throw blanket or duo of toss pillows on high friction spots increases slidability. For low friction areas, anchoring a non-slip rug pad underneath adds resistance. This lets you customize friction zones.
While it may not be a specification that’s top of mind, evaluating upholstery friction is important when sofa shopping. Testing out sofas in the furniture showroom and following these tips ensures you select a sofa with an optimal level of friction for your needs. Just the right amount of grip makes all the difference in being able to comfortably sink into your new sofa.