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Furniture Glossary of Terms
 
WHEN IS A WELT NOT A WELT?

Upholstered furniture salespeople speak English; the same language you do. But sometimes you may get the idea that they don't.

When furniture salespeople say a sofa has welts, you may think of that big red mark you got on your back when the spring on the screen door snapped as you were trying to go through with two big bags of groceries. But what they are talking about is the covered cord frequently used to strengthen or decorate a seam on a sofa or form the edge on cushions. It's the same word with two different meanings.

Every profession develops its own jargon, its own use of words, and its own terminology. You may think furniture salespeople are talking about a violent wrestling match when they speak of knock-downs, corner blocks, convoluted springs, arm stumps and a distressed finish. Actually, they are only speaking in the language of the industry; the upholstered furniture industry .

Just as with traveling, it's always more fun to visit a country where you feel comfortable with the language. Once you know how to talk like a furniture salesperson, you'll be better able to recognize a value when features are described.

You can talk like a furniture salesperson with the aid of this information. It contains a glossary of commonly used upholstered furniture terms and words.

Read it. Copy it, bring it with you when you clean or shop. It will arm you with useful knowledge for better shopping.

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A

ACETATE

A man-made cellulose fiber. Trade names: Celaperm and Chromspun. It is a colorful soft fiber. Used in limited quantities in upholstery fabric blends but is seldom used alone because of its low resistance to wear, particularly in flat weaves.

ACRILAN

Trade name for an acrylic fiber

ACRYLIC

(Identified as Orion, Creslan, and AcriIan). A man-made fiber with a soft, woolly feeling; fair resistance to sunlight. It has good cleanability characteristics and takes vivid color well. Acrylic is normally used to create velvet, plush looks.

ARM CAPS

Fitted or unfitted protective covers for arms in matching fabric. Sometimes available with furniture.

ARM STUMP

The vertical front of an arm which you see when looking straight on at a sofa or chair.

ATTACHED PILLOW BACK

Back cushions made to resemble loose pillows but which may not be removed.

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B

BACK RAIL

The wood frame section which supports the back springs and/or cushioning material.

BACKING

A coating material used on the reverse side of the upholstery fabric or cover to give it more strength.

BALL CASTERS

Round metal, rubber and/or plastic balls which fit inside a swiveled cup attached to base of furniture to make furniture easier to move.

BASE RAIL

The part of the wood frame lowest to the floor.

BASEBALL STITCHING

A double row of sewing which runs along both sides of a seam. It is used for a decorative effect but also strengthens the seam.

BASKET -WEAVE (FABRIC}

A simple plain flat fabric which gives the appearance of a woven basket.

BLENDED (FABRIC}

A fabric woven with yarn of one or more different fibers, each bringing its own special properties to the finished fabric.

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BROCADE (FABRIC)

A heavy flat fabric with a raised design, usually made with a satin yarn.

BROCATELLE (FABRIC)

A heavy flat fabric similar to brocade but with a more highly-raised design.

BUTTON- TUFTING

The use of buttons to decorate or accentuate tufting. (See tufting)

C

CASTERS

Small wheels on swivels used in place of legs of furniture to make it easier to

move. Some styles could call for legs and casters. (Trade names Bassick, Shepherd and Faultless).

CENTER MATCH

When a fabric has a pattern and a section of the pattern appears in the same place,

in the center, on all back cushions and all seat cushions.

CHINTZ (FABRIC)

A flat, brightly colored polished fabric, usually printed.


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CLEANABILITY CODE

One of four letters (W, W-S, S, X). Part of an industry code used on upholstered furniture to indicate how an upholstered fabric may be cleaned. Each letter refers to a specific cleaning method. (See "The Cover Story" booklet in this series.)

CLUB CHAIR

An upholstered chair with a low back. COIL SPRINGS

When resilient spring wire is coiled into a cone shape. Such springs are used in multiple rows for good seating comfort.

CONTRASTING WELTS

When welts are either a different color or material than upholstery material (See welts).

CONVOLUTED SPRINGS

An S-shaped spring made of resilient

steel spring wire. Used where full coil springs are not required by the furniture design.

CORDUROY (FABRIC)

A pile fabric with the pile usually cut into ridges.

CORNER BLOCKS

Triangular pieces of wood used to rein- force joints in the wood frame.

CORE

The inside of a seat or back cushion, usually polyurethane foam.

COVER

The upholstery fabric used as the outer covering of a sofa or chair. A "cover" can be either fabric or vinyl

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SPECIAL-ORDER COVER

Some manufacturers of Living Room furniture offer the consumer an alternate color selection of the same fabric. Color Charts are displayed with Living Room items that have alternate color selections available.

CUT VELVET (FABRIC)

A pile fabric with the pile cut into differ- ent levels.

D

DACRON

Trade name for a polyester fiber. (See polyester).

DAMASK (FABRIC)

A tightly woven flat fabric with a woven- in design. Made on a Jacquard loom.

DECK

Foundation or base on which loose seat cushions rest.

DENIM (FABRIC)

A tightly woven plain-weave flat fabric.

DENSITY

Weight of a polyurethane foam cushioning material. Low density foam will flat- ten out soon when sat upon while high density foam will support more weight for a greater duration of time and is usually more comfortable.

SPECIAL-ORDER COVER

Some manufacturers of Living Room furniture offer the consumer an alternate color selection of the same fabric. Color Charts are displayed with Living Room items that have alternate color selections available.

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CUT VELVET (FABRIC)

A pile fabric with the pile cut into different levels.

D

DACRON

Trade name for a polyester fiber. (See polyester).

DAMASK (FABRIC)

A tightly woven flat fabric with a woven in design. Made on a Jacquard loom.

DECK

Foundation or base on which loose seat cushions rest.

DENIM (FABRIC)

A tightly woven plain-weave flat fabric.

DENSITY

Weight of a polyurethane foam cushioning material. Low density foam will flat- ten out soon when sat upon while high density foam will support more weight for a greater duration of time and is usually more comfortable.

These are the names used to describe the completed fabric.

DISTRESSED

The artificial aging of wood so that it will look used or antique.

 

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DIVIDED BACK

The back of a sofa is given the look of detachable pillows or cushions.

DOUBLE DOWELED

Two wooden pegs inserted into both sides of a frame to make for stronger construction.

DOWELS

Wooden pegs used in quality furniture to hold frames together. They are best used in pairs and glued when pounded into place.

DOWN

Duck or goose feathers (or feathers from any water fowl) used for padding; available from some manufacturers but not common today due to high cost.

DUST COVER

Also called cambric. It is material cover- ing bottom of sofa or chair.

E

EDGE WIRE

A special heavy gauge wire which acts as a support framing for coils.

EIGHT -WAY HAND- TIED SPRINGS

Coil springs which are actually hand-tied to keep springs in place. Modern production provides for the use of machine applied metal clips and wire stabilizers to keep coil springs permanently in position, instead of hand tying.

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ENVELOPE ARM

A fold-over arm design. The arm padding rises from the seat and flows over the arm with no seams.

EXPOSED TRIM

Any wood showing on an upholstered chair or sofa except legs. It may be part of the actual frame or construction or added for decorative purposes. Trim can be metal, wood or plastic.

F

FABRIC PROTECTIVE FINISH

Levitz offers its customers the option to purchase a fluorochemical custom soil- resistant fabric treatment for upholstered furniture. This soil-resistant fabric treatment is applied to the entire upholstered piece at your local showroom and carries a manufacturer's written warranty.

The fabric treatment is odorless and does not affect the feel of a fabric. What it does is increase the cleanability of a fabric but does not affect its wearability or durability.

Ask your salesperson for more detailed information on the fabric treatment avail- able at an additional charge.

FIBERFIL

Name for a polyester filling material, usually used to wrap cushions for added comfort.

FILLING

Material (s) of any type used to soften or pad upholstered furniture.

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FLARED ARM

An arm which slants or curves away from the seat.

FLAT WEAVE

Fabric with no pile such as tweeds, twills and satins.

FLOUNCE

A strip of fabric gathered as a curtain, or pleated, and applied to the base of upholstered furniture, a feature popular in Early American styling.

FOAM

Material used for cushioning or to pad upholstered furniture. "Foam" is short for polyurethane foam in general use today. Is used as seat cushions or in thinner sheets for arm, side and back padding.

FORTREL

Trade name for a polyester fiber (See polyester). FRAME

Basic structure or skeleton of an upholstered sofa or chair. Kiln-dried hard wood is best for durability in wooden frames.

FRENCH SEAM

(See inverted) FRONT RAIL

The wood frame part lowest to the floor , and at the front of piece.

 

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G

GLIDES

Buttons of plastic or metal applied to bottom of legs to make furniture easier to move around.

GLUE BLOCKS

Triangular pieces of wood used to rein- force joints. Glued in place after being applied to frame.

H

HAND (OR HANDLE)

Term used to describe the feel of a fabric such as soft, rough, or smooth.

HANDLE-OPERATED RECLINER

Reclining movement of chair is con- trolled by a handle accessible to the per- son sitting in the chair rather than by body movement.

HARD EDGE

(See tailored edge)

HELICALS

Small, tightly coiled springs used to add extra comfort. Used, for example, to attach flat spring on all sides of material and frame for sleep/sofa.

HERCULON

Trade name for an olefin fiber. (See olefin).

HIDDEN CASTERS

Recessed casters used to totally conceal the use of caster .

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INVERTED SEAM

Seam joining underside of fabric with no welt. (Also called French seam).

J

JACQUARD (FABRIC)

A method of producing elaborately patterned weaves on a mechanical Jacquard loom on which the roller gives design instructions instead of musical notes.

K

KICK PLEAT

Tailored pleated skirt on the bottom of upholstered pieces. (See skirt).

KNOCK DOWN (OR K-D)

Unassembled or self-assembled furniture which you buy that way and put together yourself at home.

KODEL

Trade name for a polyester fiber (See polyester).

l

LAWSON

A furniture style in which arms are lower than the back. (See tuxedo).

LEFT -FACING

The left-hand side of a piece of furniture when looking at same from the front. (See right-facing).

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LOOSE PILLOW CONSTRUCTION

A style of sofa or chair which features separate detachable pillows for back support.

M

MATCH (ING)

Positioning of a pattern, stripe or plaid. so that it flows continuously down the back across the seat and down the front of a sofa or chair. Not all fabrics may be matched. (Also see center match).

MATELASSE (FABRIC)

Tightly woven flat fabric with a quilted puff effect.

MODULAR (S)

(See sectionals).

MR. & MRS. CHAIRS

Two matching chairs of the same style - one larger for him, one smaller for her.

N

NAIL-HEAD TRIM

Decorative head nails or a simulated nail- head strip used to accentuate a style, usually used on arms and rails.

NAP

Raised fibers in a pile fabric such as velvet.

NUBBY

Fabric with yarns of different thicknesses giving an irregular hand to fabric.

NYLON

Generic name for an important man- made synthetic fiber. Among the most durable synthetic fibers used for furniture fabrics. Trade names: Antron, Enka, Chemstrand and DuPont Nylon.



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O

OLEFIN

Man-made synthetic fiber, good proper-

ties of strength, and resistance to abrasion, excellent cleanability. Trade names: Herculon, Vectra.

ORLON

Trade name for an acrylic fiber. (See acrilan).

OTTOMAN

Footstool or the footrest attached to a reclining chair.

P

PADDING

(See filling).

PEDESTAL BASE

Base placed under the center of a piece of furniture. Commonly used on recliners and swivel rockers.

PILE WEAVE

Fabric with raised nap -velvet, corduroy, fake furs.

POLYESTER

A man-made fiber. Trade names: Dacron, Fortrel, Kodel. Most like cotton in its appearance and physical properties.

POLYSTYRENE

A man-made synthetic used to simulate wood. Often used to reproduce expensive wood trim. Can also be used to make frame parts or entire frames.

POLYURETHANE

Man-made synthetic foam used for filling and for cushions. Rigid polyurethane can also reproduce wood trim or make entire frame.

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POP UP

A reclining chair in which the head rest pops up from inside the chair back when moved into a reclining position.

PRINT

Any fabric on which a design is printed on the surface rather than woven in.

PULL-OVER BACK

Furniture design in which back padding wraps around and over back rather than being squared off and trimmed with welting.

Q

QUILTING

Process of taking two layers of flat

fabrics with light padding in between and sewing them together with an over-all design.

Fabrics used for quilting are often prints or plain satins.

Two types of quilting are used:

1) Loom quilting which produces any overall design on a fabric; 2) Outline quilting in which each element of a design (a lily for example) is outlined.

R

RAIL

Lowest part of the wood frame. There are front, back and side rails.

RAYON

A man-made cellulose fiber. Trade names: Jetspun and Colorspun. Dyes well with high luster. Works well in dense pile or closely woven fabrics. Usually used in a blend with other fibers.

RECLINER

Chairs which do just what the name implies -they recline. All have built-in ottomans or footrests; two-way rockers have two positions (upright and one reclining position); three-way rockers have three positions (upright and two reclining positions).

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REVERSIBLE CUSHIONS

Seat cushions which may be turned upside down or reversed for durability. Vinyl cushions, however, cannot be reversed because a bottom fabric panel is needed for ventilation.

RIGHT -FACING

The right-hand side of a piece of furniture when looking at same from the front. (See left-facing).

ROCKER

Any chair which tips back and forth in place. Traditional rockers have arched supports on the legs. Platform rockers move on springs on stationary bases. There are also swivel rockers and rocker recliners available.

S

SADDLE ARM

An arm style which looks exactly as if you had placed a saddle on the arm. It dips down and wraps over the arm.

SADDLE STITCHED

A decorative form of sewing the cover. Used more for ornamentation. It is not required for a good seam closure.

SATIN (FABRIC)

A tightly woven, high luster flat-weave fabric.

SCALLOP

An ornamental border on a skirt of small half circles.

SCOTCHGARD

(See stain-resistant finish)

SELF-COVERED SEAT DECK

The area above the seat springs on which loose seat cushions rest is the seat deck. When covered in the same material as the exterior of the piece, it is called "self- covered." Thus if cushions move apart, you see the same upholstery fabric underneath rather than the customarily used beige denim fabric.

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SELF-WELTING

When the welting is the same fabric and color as the rest of the piece.

SHANTUNG (FABRIC)

A flat weave fabric with slub yarns. Achieved by using yarn of varying thick- nesses. Large slub yarn, particularly, could catch on children's shoe buckles or jewelry.

SIDE RAIL

(See rail)

SKIRT

A strip of fabric which carries the sofa or chair design down to the floor and hides legs or casters.

A skirt is sometimes also called a flounce. It can be gathered or pleated.

SLEEPER OR SLEEP/SOFA

A sofa which can be converted into a bed

SLUB YARN

Yarn which is irregular in size

SNAPS AND STRAPS

A pair of straps sewn to the seat deck; on the end of each is a metal lock snap. This fits into a ring on a cushion to hold it in place.

SPINDLE

A round piece of wood, usually turned or carved. Used as exterior wood trim on arms and stumps in Early American styling.

SPRING EDGE

Springs carried to the edge of a seat to provide resiliency to the edge.

SPRINGS

Metal springs used to give interior support and resiliency to seat and back construction. Rarely used inside seat cushions today. Springs consists of two general types: Coil or cone and convoluted flat springs.

STAIN-RESISTANT FINISH

Fluorochemical finishes which retard soil and increase stain resistance on fabrics. Trade names: Scotchgard, Zepel, ACT.

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STUMP PANEL

Panel on the front of an arm stump which is the vertical panel facing you.

STYLE

Description of the general design category of furniture. For example: Early American, French Provincial, Traditional, Contemporary, Modern are all "styles." Consult design reference books for the definitions of periods and specific styles.

SUITE

A sofa and a chair

SWATCH

A sample of upholstery fabric, often shown with other pieces, in what is called a Swatch Book.

If displayed on a rack in a store, it is called a swatch handle.

SWIVEL ROCKER

A rocking chair which moves back and forth and revolves as well.

T

T -SHAPE

A seat or back cushion shaped roughly like a "T" in a chair.

The ends extend beyond the arm or back giving an appearance of greater length. The '"T" becomes an Ill" shape on the right cushion of a sofa and reverses on the left.

TAILORING

The over-all appearance of the furniture. It refers to the neatness of sewing or the visual detailing.

TAILORED EDGE

When seat springs are contained within the wood frame and do not extend to the outer edge. The front panel of wood, softened by padding and fabric, is directly under the seat cushion.

TAPESTRY

A flat fabric in which the pattern is an illustration depicting a story.


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TASLAN

A soft fluffy yarn used in an upholstery fabric.

TRIM

A decorative design applied to the outside of furniture. It could appear on arms, back or base. It can be made of wood, metal or plastic.

TUFTING

The process of drawing a cord through a deep cushion giving high puffs of padding and small low valleys where .the cord is drawn. Names are given to tufting describing the shape of the tuft such as "diamond," "biscuit," or "square." Buttons are often attached to cords to highlight the tufting design.

TUXEDO

A style in which the arms are the same height as the back.

TWEED (FABRIC)

A flat weave usually of heavy yarns in a moderately tight weave.

TWILL

A very tightly woven flat weave.

U

URETHANE

(See" polyurethane).

V

VECTRA

Trade name for an olefin fiber.

VELVET (FABRIC)

A pile fabric with a clipped nap. Before clipping, the nap is a loop.

W

WALLHUGGER

Trade name for a mechanism which allows a reclining chair to be placed within 3" of a wall and permit it to fully recline without touching the wall.

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WEAVE

The manner in which cloth is woven both in terms of tightness and in terms of texture.

WEBBING

Strips of material used as a base for padding.

WELTS

Fabric or vinyl covered cord used to strengthen or decorate a seam, as opposed to an inverted seam.

WING BACK

Wing-like projections from the side of the back, often found in Early American furniture, where wings were used during early pioneer days as protection against drafts.

WRAPPED CUSHION

A seat or back cushion which contains an inner core, usually polyurethane, and an outer wrapping of "fiberfill" for greater softness and a more down-like appearance.

X, V, Z

 ZIG-ZAG

Trade name for convoluted or S-shaped springs. Used arched for resiliency where full coil springs are not specific.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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