Sectional Sofas: Sizing, Materials & Other Tips

Sectionals are becoming an increasingly popular option over sofas in people’s homes. A sectional gives you space to spread out and can accommodate more people, making it a practical option for larger families. You are going to want a sectional that is durable, stylish, and comfortable so that you and your family can enjoy it for many years. The process for picking out and purchasing the right sectional for you can seem overwhelming at first but narrowing down on several key considerations will help make the decision easy.



(Pictured: Broyhill 3-pc Soho Sectional w/ Left Facing Chaise)

Rooms and Use

Will you be purchasing a sectional sofa for a living room or entertainment room? Is your sectional going to be used everyday or just occasionally? Many people purchase sectionals for a family room and it is a piece that is going to be used frequently. Now, sectionals are becoming a popular option for a game or entertainment room. Sectional sofas can be equipped with features similar to those of home theater seating but have a more casual look that appeals to some people.

Knowing what sort of wear and tear your sectional will see is going to be one of the most important factors in making a final decision. One thing that is common when buying new furniture is the expectations versus reality. Many people will envision buying a new, fancy sectional that will remain in pristine condition but reality is usually different, depending on who will be using the piece. If you entertain often, know that spills from food and drinks are inevitable. Or if you have kids, pillows and cushions are often going to be strewn across the room. Just know who exactly is going to be using the sectional and consider what sort of wear your sectional is going to be subject to.

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Choose a sectional that reflects the overall aesthetic of your home. Is your style eclectic, traditional, contemporary or somewhere in between? The more simple the design, the longer it will remain in style. Selecting a sectional in a neutral color and durable fabric is going to give you the longest lifespan because it is a timeless look that will last many years. Choosing something in a neutral color also allows you to easily change out throws and accent pillows for when you feel like redecorating. Or if you have your heart set on something with less ambiguity, such as a low profile, white leather contemporary style or vintage, grandiose design, know that there is a greater possibility of changing your mind down the road and you won’t get the same return on your investment. 

Chaise Sectional SofaArm Styles

There are several shapes you can choose for the arms of your sectionals. Most of these are just for aesthetic purposes but pillow arms are going to be the plushest and best for those want to use the arm for napping. English/track arms have a square appearance but are slightly flared out. Rolled arms are going to be an exaggerated rounded shape.

Base Styles

The majority of sectionals will have exposed legs but more traditional styles can have a skirted base. Exposed wood legs can range from delicate Queen Anne or intricately carved to chunky bun feet or there are also modern looking metal legs. Skirts may be fabric or made of trim such as bullion. The style you are trying to achieve is going to dictate whether you choose exposed or skirted as the base of your sectional.  

(Pictured: Rowe Furniture Hermitage 2-piece Chaise Sectional)

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Shape and Scale

There are almost endless possibilities for the shape of a sectional; L-shaped, corner sectionals, chaise sectionals, etc. The good news is that it’s very easy to find a sectional that will fit into your living room but it also means you have to pay extra attention to dimensions when shopping around. Before you start shopping, it’s best to take rough measurements of the area where you will be putting your sectional to see what will and won’t fit. Once you have narrowed down your selection of sectionals, use tape to lay down a diagram of the shape to make sure it fits well into the room. Also, just because it fits does not necessarily mean you are going to like how all of the pieces in that room flow together. This is an especially important step if you are considering purchasing multiple pieces of furniture for that room. This step may seem unimportant or too much extra effort but it’s a lot less hassle than having to figure out if you can return the furniture after it has been delivered to your house. Another thing to consider is that sometimes manufacturers have different configurations available but not all are pictured on a retailer’s website. If you love a particular style but not the configuration, call the retailer and see what other options may be available.

Sectionals come in many different shapes and the sizes also vary quite a bit. A sectional with deep seating and cushioned arms is going to be the most universally accommodating style. However, for older folks who may have a difficult time sitting and standing from a large sectional, consider a smaller scale, shallower piece with a tight back and firmer cushions. Contemporary styles are generally a smaller scale and can be uncomfortable for taller people. Again, the key to choosing the right size is knowing who is going to be using the sectional most frequently and what is comfortable for them.

(Pictured: Craftmaster Crysall Chaise Sectional)

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Many manufacturers carry hundreds of different fabric choices so you can customize your sectional to the exact color or pattern to fit your style. Again, the simpler the design, the longer the sectional will remain in style. Beyond just choosing a color or pattern, the fabric content is going to be extremely important when making a final purchase. Choose the type of fabric for its durability; ease of stain removal, or for its tactile nature. For instance chenille may be soft and durable and great for day to day living. Leather is consistently in style and ages beautifully – another benefit of leather furniture is the Mayo Clinic has suggested it is good for people with allergies. Kid and pet friendly options are microfibers, polyesters, performance leathers and leather alternatives such as polyurethane. The fabric content is going to dictate how the sectional must be cleaned and will give you a better idea of upkeep.

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There are several options for back and seat cushions. Attached (or tight) cushions are sewn into the body of the sofa and will require occasional fluffing to keep their shape. Loose cushions can be taken off and flipped. Semi-attached will have the same appearance as a loose cushion but are sewn to the body. The most common materials for cushions are coils, down and feathers, and high-density foam. Down and feathers are going to be the softest, most plush option but are also more high maintenance and require daily fluffing to keep their shape. You can also find cushions with a blend of down, feathers and polyester fibers, where pads are wrapped over foam for a more luxurious feel. High-density foam is the most commonly used filling and the higher the density, the firmer it will be. This is usually wrapped in cotton or Dacron (synthetic fiber) for a softer sit. Coils or springs are very resilient but also soft and comfortable. Springs are surrounded by high-density foam and wrapped with down filled pads for the best of all worlds.

(Pictured: Jackson 2-pc Austin Sectional)

Seating support is made of web support, sinuous springs, or eight-way hand tied springs. With eight-way hand tied, this method is constructed by hand typing each coil spring to the other spring and to the frame. Twine is used to connect each spring and the crosses resemble a figure eight. Sinuous springs are “S” shaped wires running front to back of the seat and are spaced every couple of inches. Additional support is added by laterally crossing wires. Web support can be used along or in conjunction with coils. Cushions are held in place by hammock-like webbing that are two to three inches wide and are tacked to the frame. Eight-way hand tied springs are considered to be the best quality and worth the investment if your budget allows for it.

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Notes on Frames

The overall quality of a sofa greatly depends on the construction and materials used in creating the frame. Corner-blocked, double doweled, kiln dried hardwood frames are going to be of the best quality and can potentially last 10 years. These wood preserving and construction techniques help prevent and cracking, splitting, or warping of the wood that can occur from years of use or overly rambunctious kids or pets. If you have questions on the exact construction of a sectional, contact the retailer you want to purchase from and they can provide the specifications from the different manufacturers.

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Editorial Assistance by Home Gallery Stores Staff