August 10, 2010

5 Common Furniture Myths

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I’ll be the first to admit it: I’ve had my share of “space cadet” moments – those moments when your brain completely ceases to function and you’re forced to contemplate a particular situation without the benefit of thought or logic. Others may simply refer to these as bouts of stupidity. Whatever you call them, I’ve had them. Many times.

That having been said, I’m sure many of you, dear readers, have suffered these bouts as well. (Admit it!) The good news is that these synaptic misfires can usually be attributed to ignorance. The cure for ignorance is education, and that’s what we’re doling out in this week’s post.

The following is a list of some common misconceptions about furniture. If you’ve ever had a space cadet moment pertaining to any of these topics, consider yourself cured! How many of these have crossed your mind?

1) Removing that tag from your mattress will land you in trouble with the law.

An iteration of the following scenario has played out in all our minds at some point: while changing your bed sheets, you accidentally rip off the mattress tag bearing the ominous words “DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW.” Moments later, the mattress police show up at your door and haul you away to mattress prison where you’re forced to fashion shivs from coil springs for the rest of your days.

A little wisdom and logic help us to realize this is a ridiculous scenario and the tag is not meant for consumers. But the question remains: why is that tag there in the first place?

do-not-removeIn the early 1900s, some shady bed makers were filling pillows and mattresses with anything they could get their hands on: horse hair, straw, rags, crumpled paper, and other less-than-hygienic materials. Consumer awareness was on the rise, and so were disease and infection. Many sicknesses were passed on through this kind of bad bedding, so lawmakers implemented regulations that required bed makers to clearly display what materials were used in their products so consumers would know exactly what they were buying. The solution was the mattress and pillow tags. The DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW warning was meant for the manufacturer. Recently, some manufacturers have cleared up this long-standing confusion by adding a line explicitly stating that only the consumer may remove the tag. But for many of us, the damage has already been done.

So rest easy knowing that you can rip off that annoying tag, but know that that tag is your guarantee that you’re sleeping on safe, quality materials.

2) Imperfections on a leather piece mean it’s damaged or isn’t made of real leather.

Whether it’s a coat, purse, couch, or recliner, genuine leather can transform an ordinary product into something exquisite. Unfortunately, many people avoid leather products because they see imperfections and consider them to be defects, or sometimes think they’re being “tricked” into buying something that isn’t really leather.

scarsIt’s reasonable to expect a brand new product to be flawless, but this mindset works against you when shopping around for natural products like leather. It may sound like backward thinking, but the reality is that a product made of 100% top grain leather will most likely have some kind of imperfection somewhere. Leather is a direct representation of the animal from which it came. These animals have their own imperfections in the form of injuries and scars. As a result, these same imperfections will be visible on the final piece.

Some types of leather have undergone treatment to remove imperfections and make the entire piece look uniform. This doesn’t make the leather any less genuine, but it’s not considered top grain leather (which is typically untreated) since it doesn’t have the unique, one-of-a-kind imperfections.

To find out more about leather, check out some of our previous posts:

Leather, Pt. 1 and Leather, Pt. 2

3) Tempered glass is unbreakable.

BrokenGlass101409It’s hard to find something that is truly unbreakable. Even Bruce Willis’s seemingly invincible character in “Unbreakable” had a breaking point. The same is true of tempered glass.

Tempered glass is glass that has undergone a special thermal treatment to make it stronger than regular glass. Tempered glass is used in car windows, refrigerator trays, and as a component of bullet-proof glass. Many people assume that tempered glass is indestructible due to its versatile applications. While tempered glass is statistically stronger and more resistant than plain glass, it will break with enough force.

Ironically, one of the major selling points of tempered glass is that when it does break, it shatters into smaller, duller pieces instead of larger, sharper shards. Despite this, people continue to abuse the tempered glass on their furniture and are appalled when it breaks.

So take the baby (and the pets) off the glass coffee table and remember that just because it’s been treated, it’s still glass and still very delicate.

4) Knots on wood furniture are defects that need to be repaired or touched up.

This is very similar to the misunderstanding surrounding leather and its natural imperfections. Wood can carry a number of imperfections that are often exploited for artistic use. Knots are one such imperfection.

Birnbaum01During a tree’s development, some of the limbs die, but side branches from these dead limbs can continue to grow for years. A knot is usually the result of these side branches growing into the tree’s bark. Because the rest of the tree continues to grow in one direction, the dead limbs’ side branches continue to grow in a different direction, digging their way into the rest of the tree. The size and color of the resulting knot can vary depending on the thickness of the branch and how deeply it penetrated the tree.

With natural wood, it’s nearly impossible to avoid these imperfections, which is why many furniture manufacturers have embraced knots when designing pieces; the knots add a visual flair while reinforcing the natural origins of the materials used.

5) Leather furniture gets too hot, especially in the South Florida heat!

I have a sneaking suspicion that cars (and school buses) are to blame for this misconception. Stepping into a car that’s been sitting in the scorching South Florida sun for a few hours is uncomfortable enough as it is. Add a leather interior to the mix and the experience can become downright painful! Initially, the leather almost seems to burn your skin, but within seconds, you feel fine.

ITAL-51%20Sofa%20(1)1_MEDIUMLeather is a breathable material. The degree of breathability varies depending on the quality of the leather. Top grain leather is the most breathable; as the quality degrades, so does the breathability.

This breathability causes the leather to adjust to your body temperature and maintain it just slightly cooler so that you’re comfortable over extended periods of time. It also ensures that moisture won’t accumulate between your skin and the leather itself, so there’s no worry about “sticking” to your furniture.

Right about now, you may be thinking, What about all those times on the school bus when I’d get all sticky and my legs would get stuck to the seat?

Unless your school bus was commissioned by Bill Gates, chances are those seats weren’t covered in leather. Most buses (and other public places) use a leather-like compound based primarily on polyurethane. To a certain extent, polyurethane can achieve the look and feel of leather with the added benefit of lower manufacturing costs. But these benefits come at the expense of comfort, breathability, and overall quality.

Narratives are for entertainment purposes only and frequently employ literary point of view; the narratives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of El Dorado Furniture, its officers, or employees.

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