Working with Upholstery Spring Coils Working with Upholstery Spring Coils

Although other types of spring systems have largely taken over in popularity in the world of upholstery, the classic spring coil is still found in many pieces of furniture—particularly those made prior to the 1980s. Remember that old chair at your parent's house that was so ugly but they wouldn't throw it away because it was so comfortable? More than likely it was made with a traditional spring coil suspension. Spring coils are still considered by many to be the most comfortable option available in terms of flexibility and support. 


The main purpose of springs in upholstered furniture is to provide a comfortable and flexible seating area, as well as to add structural integrity to the seat and sometimes back. Spring coils are categorized based on their purpose, firmness, appearance and the construction of the end of the coil. There are different types of coils intended for use in seats, seat backs, couches, chairs, different seat depths, etc. 


Spring coils are typically constructed out of 9 to 11-gauge wire and come in three types, based on firmness: soft, medium/regular, and hard. The “medium/regular” springs are by far the most common, and are used in most chairs and couches that employ the use of spring coils.  Spring coils typically have an hourglass shape, with ends that are wider than their middle, which tapers in. This structure helps them to absorb as much pressure as possible, while remaining comfortable enough to sit on.


    When installed correctly, spring coils are not only universally praised for their comfort, they are also very sturdy. Well-installed spring coils can often outlast the useful life of the upholstery covering them. Unfortunately, spring coils are often installed incorrectly or in a haphazard manner, which leads to springs poking out of fabric, which is what many people think of when they imagine spring coils. This is also why spring coils have largely been replaced by other types of coil systems that provide less risk of breaking down the fabric covering them. Modern furniture typically employs the use of “zig-zag” springs, which are lighter and easier to install, but provide less comfort and stability.


    Another problem with spring coils is that the process of properly installing them is extremely labor-intensive. For this reason, the time investment required constructing a chair or couch is often cost-prohibitive. To properly install a spring coil system, individuals springs must be tied together individually to create a network of spring coils that will support weight that is spread out across a wide area. Since these coils must be tied together individually, at a uniform distance from one another, the process of constructing a spring coil network is understandably labor intensive.


    If you are looking for a comfortable, well-constructed piece of furniture for your home, you could do worse than to look for an old, 1950s or '60s chair or couch employing spring coils in its construction. What you will get is a comfortable, reliable piece of furniture that will stand the test of time if you keep it well-upholstered.

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