There are really only two types of furniture: the solid, well-built kind that can last for generations, and the cheap, poorly made kind that will fall apart.

But how can you tell the difference?

Some furniture stores specialize in long-lasting, high-quality pieces, while others have more of a mixture to suit different price levels and customer expectations. If you're looking for the best furniture, though, here are some things to look for.

Large pieces of wood such as headboards and table tops typically have divisions. This is due to the fact that wood does not naturally occur in large pieces, so seaming and joining are inevitable.

All wood areas, such as internal or back areas, should always be sanded so that they are smooth and able to fit tightly at the joints. The piece should be solid.

When you purchase buffets, dressers, hutches as well as other pieces, you want to examine the area for dust panels that are located between drawers. The drawers should open smoothly, and there should be no jamming, sticking or squeaking. When the drawers are closed, they should sit flat against the dresser or cabinet.

Display cabinets and hutches should have light fixtures that are built securely into the unit. For drawers that will hold silverware, the drawers of these pieces should be lined.

With this knowledge in hand, you should be prepared to purchase your next fine piece of furniture. Retailers of fine furniture take great pride in the merchandise they are offering. They will be happy to answer all of your questions regarding frame construction and will be pleased to show you the quality joints and construction methods that are indicative of quality furniture.

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