Insider's Guide to Furniture & the Home Furnishings Industry

Jeff Frank is a 40 year veteran of the furniture industry who is happy to answer your questions about furniture! Ask your question today!

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How good is a Flexsteel sofa?

Flexsteel-reclining-sofa

Flexsteel is an American manufacturer that has been producing mid-priced upholstered seating for more than 100 years.

The company has multiple U.S. factories. Flexsteel's Latitudes line is manufactured in China.

Retail salespeople do not always do a good job of distinguishing between U.S. made Flexsteel furniture and the imported Latitude models.

Latitudes seems to account for a disproportionate share of the total complaints. But it is not the only thing to watch out for.

It is my impression that most customer complaints and problems involve three specific areas:

1) Bonded leather fabrics (This includes Flexsteel's Nuvo leather fabrics.)

2) Reclining sofas and sectionals (individual recliners seem to have fewer problems and are easier to repair.)

3) The Made in China Latitudes line.

If you can avoid heavy reclining furniture, bonded leather and Chinese made products there is a good chance you will be very happy with your Flexsteel furniture.

The three problem areas cited above are not just for Flexsteel. They apply to most low and mid-priced mass produced upholstered furniture.

There are many Flexsteel reviews in which customers state that they have owned their Flexsteel furniture for 15 - 25 years or more. They are very happy and plan to buy Flexsteel again in the future.

Flexsteel furniture purchased today is not the same. It should not be expected to last as long as Flexsteel furniture made 15 years ago.

This is not just a Flexsteel problem. It is true for virtually all mid-priced upholstered furniture manufacturers.

A recent furniture industry survey indicated that most people expect their new sofa to last 3 - 5 years. The same survey question asked 15 years ago resulted in a majority expecting their furniture to last 7 - 10 years.

There is a very good reason why upholstered furniture doesn't hold up as well as it used to.

20 years ago there were thousands of small and mid sized furniture retailers across the U.S. Annual sales of $50 million were sufficient for a retail chain to be one of the Top 50 furniture retailers in the country. Almost nobody sold over $100 million.

Today over 90% of those smaller retailers are gone. The Top 25 furniture retailers all exceed $1 billion in sales and control 75% of total U.S. furniture sales.

Buyers for these huge retail chains hold tremendous power and encourage cut throat competition. Relatively few manufacturers are large enough to supply the bigger chains.

Major furniture manufacturers such as Flexsteel are all competing for floor space in the few remaining furniture mega-stores.

Furniture discounts and sale prices are the #1 reason most consumers cite for their decision to purchase. As a result the buyers for the retail chains are continually trying to force prices down.

Manufacturers respond by reducing production and material costs.

Everything, especially those parts that cannot be seen, is subject to cost cutting.

Lowering labor costs has become a vital competitive strategy.

Customers often complain that all furniture seems to look the same. There is a lot of truth to this perception.

Current styling is largely dictated by what can be manufactured most efficiently by low paid workers with minimal skills.

Everything has become simplified to reduce the need for expensive skilled workers.

Fabrics and foam are now cut by computer to increase efficiency and reduce waste.

Covers are pre-sewn and "socked on" to eliminate time consuming upholstering that requires more skill.

Cheaper foam will last long enough to satisfy the warranty. Using tight (non removable) cushions also reduces the amount of foam required.

Tight, non-removable cushions also dramatically reduce the cost of fabric. This is especially critical with more expensive high performance fabrics and genuine leather.

Plywood frames have mostly replaced solid hardwood for mass produced furniture. They can be produced far more efficiently and generate far less waste.

One exception to the emphasis on cost reduction has been the growth of high performance fabrics over the past decade.

High performance fabrics combine heavy-duty durability with built in permanent stain resistance technology.

Many (but not all) of these high performance fabrics including Crypton and Sunbrella cost substantially more than the old microfibers that dominated mid priced upholstery 20 years ago.

Other high performance fabrics (including most of the brands using 100% olefin fibers) are closer in price to the old Microfibers.

Another change in fabric preferences has caused thousands of problems and complaints throughout the furniture industry --Bonded leather.

Bonded leather problems are particularly acute with motion (reclining) furniture.

The majority of reclining furniture is purchased with either leather, bonded leather or faux leather. Click here to see the difference between these different materials.

Bonded leather is a weak material. It does not have the durability of genuine leather made from hides.

For more information about bonded leathers check out my article What are the Pros and Cons of Bonded Leather Furniture?.

When you combine flimsy bonded leather with reclining furniture you multiply your chances for potential problems.

The extra movement that occurs on reclining furniture adds additional strain to an already fragile material.

Large reclining sofas and sectionals are extremely heavy. They put a lot of strain on the furniture's frame. Stationary sofa frames get far less abuse from normal use.

Mechanisms can be pushed out of alignment. This frequently happens during shipping. Heavy use or moving furniture within the home can also cause mechanism malfunctions.

Flexsteel’s quality compares favorably with other similarly priced motion furniture manufacturers. But you can expect a higher rate of problems with the reclining furniture category.

Flexsteel pays more attention to the internal quality of its furniture than many of its competitors.

The blue steel spring foundation gave the company its name more than 100 years ago. It is very comfortable and may be the strongest, longest lasting spring foundation ever made.*

* In a 1980s government contract dispute, a federal court ruled that Flexsteel's blue steel spring foundation was "as good or better" than 8 way hand tied foundations.

The blue steel spring is far more costly than the standard sinuous wire springs found in most competitively priced furniture.

At one time the Latitudes line did not include the blue steel spring. Flexsteel has updated the imported products to include the Blue Steel Spring.

It is easy to tell whether your Latitude furniture includes the blue steel spring. Turn the piece over to see the bottom.

If there is no fabric dust cover you will be able to see the wide blue steel spring. If there is a dust cover hiding the sofa's insides the blue spring is not there.

Unfortunately the Latitude line still seems to have a significantly higher rate of complaints than domestically made Flexsteel furniture. There are many other parts that will wear out long before the springs.

Flexsteel sells a lot of genuine leather. They have multiple grades which vary widely in price and quality.

Flexsteel is also one of the largest manufacturers of sofas and sleepers for RVs and other recreational vehicles.

Most of this RV furniture is manufactured in the U.S.

In general RV furniture has a lower level of quality than similarly priced residential furniture.

One reason for this is the added dealer installation costs. Another is that there are very few manufacturers making RV furniture. And it is usually available only through a limited number of RV dealers.

Flexsteel's quality is generally considered to be at the upper end of the RV furniture marketplace.

Additional Note - Flexsteel was one of my clients from 1984 - 1989. During that period I sold approximately $15 million of Flexsteel furniture to the U.S. military and various federal government agencies.

Comments RSS feed for comments on this page

  1. Karen Karen Our Flexsteel is 2 years old. A side of the sofa & recliner are loose. The memory foam is absolutely flat where they have been used.
    There are wear spots on the leather. The sofa is too heavy to move to clean & things that slip Down to the floor between the cushions require you to put the reclining seat all the way up, get down on your chest & hope the item is close. The steel frame sits on the floor making cleaning under it almost impossible.
    The warranty requires you to ship the furniture to the factory for repair at your own expense. Due to the weight & the fact I wouldn’t begin to know how to ship it, makes it cost prohibitive.. we are buying new furniture, and it will certainly not be Flexsteel Friday, January 26, 2018
  2. The author Karen,

    Thank you for your comment. One thing that I did not mention in my article is that, in general, reclining furniture and sleepers (furniture with mechanisms) will not last as long as stationary furniture. They have a far higher rate of problems and they are more expensive to fix. Also, leather makes the furniture substantially more expensive, more easily damaged and more expensive to repair.

    You are absolutely correct about the fact that furniture companies count on prohibitive transportation charges to stop customers from returning defective or damaged furniture. Shipping a sleep sofa costs my company several hundred dollars and that is with our heavily discounted shipping rate which you are probably not eligible for.

    Your situation is one of the biggest reasons why 80% of independent reviews of furniture companies are negative. Furniture is easy to damage. The cost of repairs is extremely high. As a result retailers (and manufacturers) do everything they can to avoid those repair costs.

    One of the reasons for the success of Wayfair and other major online retailers is that they are able to offer their customers liberal return policies. They can do this because they charge back the supplier and do not incur the costs themselves. Approximately 20% of all furniture sold through Wayfair is returned.

    Simplicity Sofas furniture was specifically designed to address this problem. Every piece is constructed using interchangeable and replaceable parts. If an arm is damaged we can just build and ship a replacement arm which our customer can install without tools in 5 minutes. The cost is minimal.

    We can do the same with backs, bases, legs, cushion covers, cushion inserts, etc. Problems are also minimized by using extremely high quality materials such as solid oak frames, 2.5 density Ultracel foam and heavy-duty rated, stain-resistant fabrics.

    Despite the problems with your Flexsteel furniture, they are a better than average furniture manufacturer. The category of furniture that you purchased is particularly susceptible to damage and expensive to repair Most of their competitors have even higher rates of problems and customer complaints. Sunday, January 28, 2018
  3. Robert Gresham Robert Gresham We purchased a high-end Flexsteel leather sofa about four years ago. Within two years the leather with the laminating from the cushions we replace two cushions at 0 apiece then the deterioration continued with them for years it was ready for the garbage 00 for years 1000 bucks a year for a couch Sunday, January 28, 2018
  4. Lee Halle Lee Halle I bought a FSteel rocker swivel recliner in 1997 that is the most comfortable piece of furniture I have ever sat on. Due to an extensive back fusion, it fits me perfectly, but needs new padding, stuffing, and all that. The nearest upholstery guy is 60 miles away. I have the original label from under the chair, but it doesn't match anything on Flexsteel's or any local retailer's website. Even FS's contact said their records don't go back that far, and they were no help. Any advice would be appreciated. TY. Friday, February 2, 2018
  5. The author You do not need a Flexsteel retailer. Any competent reupholsterer should be able take care of this. If you send me your address I will see if I can find a reupholstery shop in your area. Friday, February 2, 2018
  6. Dean Matthes Dean Matthes We purchased a flexsteel Belmont motion sofa. We loved the look and felt it was a good purchase. After 3 different deliveries (frames were bent not Flexsteel's fault but could be a reflection of the quality) we were happy with our purchase. About 6 months in we found one head rest started to discolor, at first I thought it was a strange fading, but it ultimately ended up that the leather was flaking off. We called the store we bought it from and they replaced it. A year later it happened again. Now they wont cover it because it is past the one year mfg warranty, and the extended warranty wont cover it because they claim it is a factory defect. We paid to fix it, then again after another 6 months we had to pay to fix it. I asked if it was bonded leather when we purchased and was told it was not. Again that is the store's fault not flexsteels, but I will never buy another flexsteel sofa. So now we are getting rid of our 3 year old sofa to find one that we don't have to fix every 6 months.
    Tuesday, February 6, 2018
  7. The author Real leather does not "flake off." It may crack over time if it is not cleaned and conditioned periodically. It could have been bicast leather which is not bonded leather but has similar problems. This is a perfect example of how furniture warranties are written for the benefit of the retailer, not the consumer. Extended warranties cover almost nothing and are a huge profit center for retailers. Wednesday, February 7, 2018
  8. Karol Wilking Karol Wilking My Flexsteel furniture is 30 years old and still looks good! It has taken a beating through the years in our family room. Been cleaned many, many times and the sofa cushion fabric is now pretty worn. But the sofa, loveseat and chair were the best investment I ever made. The springs have never sagged or lost its firmness. If I could find the same fabric to have my sofa recovered, I would do it in a heartbeat. But after 30 years, that would be impossible. I recommend Flex-steel to everyone and of course I will buy it again. Monday, April 23, 2018
  9. Jerry Green Jerry Green I have Flexsteel RV furniture in my 2014 Fleetwood Motorhome.
    In a number of places the top gray surface covering is cracking and falling off in small pieces.
    I think the fabric is UltraLeather.
    Any way to get replacement fabric so I can get this fixed? Tuesday, April 24, 2018
  10. Todd Cundiff Todd Cundiff Absolutely horrible quality and service Friday, April 27, 2018
  11. The author Todd,

    Thank you for your comment. The purpose of this blog is not to publish reviews of specific products or companies. My articles on Flexsteel and other manufacturers are simply to point out construction details and things to watch out for in general.

    I can tell you as a general rule that companies like Flexsteel, LaZBoy, Ethan Allen, Basset, Broyhill and other mid-range furniture manufacturers all make products today that are not the same quality as what earned them their reputations 30, 50 or 100 years ago.

    Back then mid range furniture products were largely hand crafted by highly skilled workers. Now everything is highly automated and simplified. It is far more efficient but it is not the same product.

    Thirty years ago a Flexsteel sofa may have taken 8 -12 hours of labor for the cutting, sewing and upholstering processes. Now a similar looking product can flow through the production line in 30 - 60 minutes.

    On the other hand, over those same three decades, the prices have increased very little, despite the tremendous amount of inflation that has occurred during that time period.

    According to recent industry statistics nearly 70% of furniture purchasers rate price as the #1 factor in their purchasing decision.

    If you wish to publicize how you feel about your furniture you may want to try the following venues:
    Yelp is good for local retailers
    ConsumerAffairs.com is better for national retailers.
    Brand names such as Flexsteel can be reviewed on the following sites:
    Pissed Consumer
    Houzz.com
    Reddit.com
    Amazon.com
    You can also leave reviews on the Flexsteel website or on individual retailer websites, but those companies usually have the option of deleting or hiding any reviews they do not like. Sunday, April 29, 2018
  12. Joe Joe I purchased a new Flexsteel sofa and the cushions are junk. I contacted Homestead House where I purchased it and after 3 month got nowhere.
    I then contacted Flexsteel directly who contacted the resale store and still didn’t get any customer Service.
    Avoid buying from them because they don’t care about you after the sale!! Wednesday, May 2, 2018
  13. The author The problems and experiences you are describing are not restricted to Flexsteel. These are systemic industry-wide deficiencies that have existed for decades.

    There are actually three different problems that you are facing:
    Most mass produced sofas feature poor quality cushions.
    On most low and mid-priced sofa, cushions are the first part to wear out and need replacement.
    Warranties (including extended warranties) are specifically written so that almost anything that can go wrong with a cushion is either "normal wear" or "abuse." Neither is covered under warranty.
    Neither the manufacturer or the retailer is set up to replace worn out cushions. Your best course is to take them to a custom upholster (or reupholster or upholstery repair shop) and ask for better quality cushon inserts.
    My suggestion is to ask for either foam cushions with a density of 2.2 or higher or high quality spring down cushion inserts. Most small upholstery shop should be able to put a much better quality insert into your existing cushion covers.
    The subject of cushions is discussed in detail in my blog article What Everyone Needs to Know Before Buying Their Next Sofa.
    Once you have purchased your furniture from a retailer, the manufacturer is no longer responsible for most types of problems or defects. (This is probably why Flexsteel is not responding to you.)
    Once a retailer has accepted receipt of a product from the manufacturer they become responsible for most types of defects or problems unless they are caught immediately and the manufacturer is notified promptly.
    Once an item has been sitting in the retailer's warehouse for several months (or weeks) it becomes difficult for the retailer to establish to the manufacturer that the defect did not occur after they took receipt of the furniture.
    Manufacturer's warranties are not written for the benefit of the consumer. They are written specifically to protect the manufacturer from liability for most common types of complaints. These include nearly anything that may go wrong with either fabric or cushions.
    The most obvious example of this is the thousands of lawsuits that have resulted from peeling "bonded" leather sold to customers who thought they were purchasing genuine top grain leather made from animal hides. Consumers very rarely win these cases, even when the fabric begins to peel after only a few months. See my blog article
    Why is the leather on my sofa peeling?
    The retailer may offer extended warranties or other types of warranties but these also will typically have multiple exceptions and disclaimers excluding them from responsibility for making repairs or replacements in most cases.
    The basic problem behind all of this is the high costs of making, repairing, transporting and replacing furniture.
    Mass produced furniture is made with low quality cushions because when they are new in the showroom customers cannot tell the difference between a cheap cushion and a better quality one that may add 0 or more to the retail price of the sofa. No store wants to have a sofa that looks identical to one at its competitor's showroom but costs more.
    Repairs and replacements have none of the efficiencies of the original mass production and will frequently cost more than the total profit made on the sale.
    Repairing or replacing cushions (or any other part of a furniture piece) is expensive, time consuming and disrupts the normal flow of business. Simply sending a repair person to "examine" a problem can cost or more. Actually taking care of a problem usually costs far more.
    As a result the retailer will go to great lengths to avoid dealing with the situation. The most effective tactic is simple "poor" customer service. By not responding promptly most customers eventually give up and go away.

    By continuing to pressure the retailer, you may eventually get them to replace your cushions with others of the same quality.

    Many years ago I was a buyer for a major furniture chain.
    Customer complaints that could not be easily and inexpensively resolved were passed from the salesperson or customer service agent to a sales manager to a store manager to the merchandise manager and then to the store owner.

    Anyone with enough perseverance to make it to the owner generally got whatever they wanted. Everyone else's job was to make sure the complaint didn't get that far.

    Your fastest and best long term solution is probably to have the cushion core inserts replaced by a local upholstery shop. Depending on the size and type of cushion (and where you live) this can usually be done for - 0 per cushion.
    Wednesday, May 2, 2018
  14. Marsha Dowling Marsha Dowling I was a believer in Flexsteel quality. I have formal living room sofa & chairs 19 years old that look and seat as good as the day delivered. I purchased 2 replacement sofas for worn 19 year old den sofa and love seat; a big mistake. 00.00 of flat twisted cushions (replaced only months after delivery)the retailer had to add fill the back cushions. Total disappointment, never again Flexsteel. I'm willing to pay for quality materials and workmanship. Flexsteel toda knows neither. Tuesday, May 29, 2018
  15. mary mary I was considering buying the Flexsteel Bay Bridge fabric sofa, but the reviews about Flexsteel sofas do not seem appealing. The sales associate showed me where it was labeled U.S. made. I was told the leather sofas which I assume are the Lattitudes you talk about are foreign made. Would you hesitate to buy Bay Bridge sofa? And between Flexsteel and Decor Rest, which would you choose? Saturday, June 9, 2018
  16. William Prall William Prall After reading your comments about Flexsteel I almost didn't buy their power motion sofa. But after turning many of the floor models at several stores upside-down, I found the Flexsteel to be the best made by far. And it does have the "Blue Steel Springs" in the seating area. The wood was good quality with joints screwed, glued and reinforced. It pays to look for yourself and not depend on what you read on the internet. Sunday, June 10, 2018
  17. The author William,

    If you read through the many articles I have written on the topic, I consistently state that I consider Flexsteel among the best made mid priced mass produced upholstered furniture currently being made.

    I also point out, in many articles I have written, that frames and foundations are not the problem with furniture currently being produced. The standard 1.8 density cushions that are used in most furniture will fail long before the frames, foundations or even the fabric.

    It has also been my experience that motion furniture (in general) is far more likely to incur problems over time than stationary furniture (without mechanisms.)

    I do have extensive knowledge of Flexsteel's product among others since I was the Federal government representative for Flexsteel during a 5 year period in the late 1980s. (My firm also represented Ethan Allen and about a dozen other major manufacturers (many of which are no longer in business.)

    I was Flexsteel's corporate representative in a law suit between Flexsteel (and GSA) against Drexel Heritage (and the State Dept.) in which the U.S. government ruled that Flexsteel's blue steel frame was "as good or better than" 8 way hand-tied foundations.)

    Prior to my time with the government contract consulting firm, I also spent 6 years as a buyer for a major retail furniture chain where I became familiar with hundreds of different furniture brands and constructions. For example I bought Ashley furniture for my stores when it was just a small company making only bookcases and occasional tables in Wisconsin.

    In summary, I have never singled out Flexsteel (or any other individual furniture company) as producing "bad" furniture. I do suggest that people research "reviews and complaints" on Google before purchasing any furniture. (Flexsteel does have a problem with more negative reviews than most furniture companies, but part of that is due to the size of the company and the fact that people are more likely to write reviews about negative experiences than positive ones.)

    My articles try to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of furniture construction in general by describing current industry practices and suggesting general guidelines for avoiding the most serious problems that furniture purchasers may encounter.

    Jeff Frank, President
    Simplicity Sofas Sunday, June 10, 2018
  18. Tom Tom I have a Flexsteel sofa and chair that I love. Made sure I got the made in America version with the higher density cushions. Purchased in 2010 and the microfiber fabric is wearing and needs to be replaced. Other than that it's in great shape. Can you possibly send me the names of a few reputable upholsterers in the Pittsburgh area? Wednesday, June 27, 2018
  19. Dian’s Grimes Dian’s Grimes We bought our flex steel stationary, leather sofa and 2 large sofa chairs approximately 10 Years ago.
    The craftsmanship is excellent. The leather is still beautiful.
    The seat part of my husbands chair needs new stuffing or foam but that’s about the worst of it.
    We had a flexsteel sofa before and we gave it away only because we wanted new furniture. It was also a great piece of furniture.
    Thanks flexsteel!! Sunday, July 1, 2018
  20. LD Woodham LD Woodham I purchased 2 high end leather reclining sofas a couple of years ago. Within one year the backs became warped and would not line up on either couch. The seat cushions lost their contours within the next year. I tried to call the company with no luck and finally resorted to calling the furniture store where they were purchased. The furniture store said that they handled all of Flexsteels complaints and soon sent a repair guy out who proceeded to completely dismantle both couches in my living room. There were a lot of parts and pieces replaced. Unfortunately, those repairs were only temporary, the backs, once again, failed within 6 months. I do not have small children, and we are of average weight. The second time we called for repairs, the furniture store claimed we were abusing the sofas intentially. After 20 years and possibly ,000.00 in furniture purchases, we felt it was time we moved on. Thursday, July 12, 2018
  21. Melissa Melissa I believe the Blaise and Zoey (leather reclining furniture) are both from the Flexsteel Latitudes collection which are special order- assembled overseas/China. Are you able to tell me (with certainty) if these reclining sofas and chairs are made with the flexsteel technology/ blue metal spring system? That is one of the main reasons for choosing flexsteel as an option.
    Thank you Wednesday, July 18, 2018
  22. The author I received an email recently from a Flexsteel sales representative who told me that the Latitude line does have the blue steel spring. Here is a video he sent me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIy7or_DYIo&feature=youtu.be

    Wednesday, July 18, 2018
  23. The author Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately this is an industry wide problem. In general, the quality and life expectancy of motion furniture (particularly with power mechanisms) is less than for stationary furniture, even when made by the same company.

    Before purchasing any motion furniture you should be aware that the larger pieces such as motion sofas, loveseats and sectionals typically have a higher rate of problems and service issues than other types of seating.

    These pieces are extremely heavy. Motion furniture frame construction is usually weaker than for stationary sofas or sectionals. If they are dropped or mishandled the delicate mechanisms and motors are easily damaged.

    Repairs and service on motion furniture can be extremely expensive. Furniture warranties are typically written to minimize the responsibility of the retailer and manufacturer to cover these costs.

    For example, the warranty may state that the manufacturer will repair the product free of charge for the warranty period providing that the customer pays shipping to and from the manufacturer's factory.

    The problem with this language is that packaging and shipping a motion sofa from your home to the manufacturer is usually prohibitively expensive.

    It can cost many hundreds of dollars to box and ship large bulky furniture items and there is a significant possibility of additional damage caused during the shipping process.

    Reclining chairs are less of a problem. They can usually be partially dis-assembled and are far easier to transport if a part needs replacement.

    Thursday, July 19, 2018
  24. JOHN ERIC HAKE JOHN ERIC HAKE We custom ordered a Flex-steel leather sofa and two love seats with electric recliners in late 2014 with a delivery date in January, 2015. We ordered through a local high-end furniture store (Aven's Furniture, Palmdale, CA.)and paid almost ,000 for the set. The synthetic leather on the side panels of the cushions have cracked and been replaced once. They have again cracked but are out of warranty. Now, we just realized that the wooden frame on one of the recliners has broken in half. The only person that has ever sat in this seat is my 63 year old 130 lbs wife. We have the blue steel springs thereby indicating that this unit is not discount quality. Our previous couch was custom made at Krause's Sofa Factory and it lasted 20 years. This product is the single lowest quality piece of furniture that we have ever purchased. There is nothing that I can do about my poor decision to purchase a Flex-steel product but I sincerely hope that I can dissuade somebody else from making the same mistake. You are far better-off purchasing a bargain basement sofa from a foreign manufacturer at 25% the cost or spending the little extra money for an Ethan Allan or even a Lazyboy product. We have purchased both of these brands and, in comparison to Flex-steel, their quality is in a different universe. I like to buy American and I consider the failings of Flex-steel to be a affront to the typical commitment to quality of most American workers. This company tarnishes the "Made in America" moniker. Friday, August 10, 2018
  25. The author John,

    Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately this is an industry wide problem. In general, the quality and life expectancy of motion (reclining) furniture (particularly with power mechanisms) is less than for stationary furniture, even when made by the same company.
    Before purchasing any motion furniture you should be aware that the larger pieces such as motion sofas, loveseats and sectionals typically have a higher rate of problems and service issues than other types of seating.

    These pieces are extremely heavy. Motion furniture frame construction is usually weaker than for stationary sofas or sectionals. If they are dropped or mishandled the delicate mechanisms and motors are easily damaged.

    Repairs and service on motion furniture can be extremely expensive. Furniture warranties are typically written to minimize the responsibility of the retailer and manufacturer to cover these costs.

    For example, the warranty may state that the manufacturer will repair the product free of charge for the warranty period providing that the customer pays shipping to and from the manufacturer's factory.

    The problem with this language is that packaging and shipping a motion sofa from your home to the manufacturer is usually prohibitively expensive.

    It can cost many hundreds of dollars to box and ship large bulky furniture items and there is a significant possibility of additional damage caused during the shipping process.

    Reclining chairs are less of a problem. They can usually be partially dis-assembled and are far easier to transport if a part needs replacement.

    It sounds as though you have also run into the bonded leather problem that I have addressed in several of my articles. This is a material that should be forbidden from use by the furniture industry. There are far better faux leather polyurethane and vinyl fabrics that cost the same. The only excuse for bonded leather is to fool customers into thinking they are buying real leather at greatly reduced prices.

    Genuine leather would have cost you an additional 00 - 00 but it would not have affected any of the mechanical or frame problems you have experienced.

    Recently a study by the furniture industry found that most people expect their new upholstered furniture purchase to last 3 - 5 years before needing replacement. A similar study done 10 years ago found that people expected new upholstered furniture to last 7 - 10 years.

    Flexsteel is not the only manufacturer to lower the quality of their furniture over the past couple of decades. You will find the same thing with every major low or mid-priced furniture manufacturer.

    There are far fewer furniture retailers than there were 20 years ago and the vast majority now are huge chains with dozens or hundreds or thousands of stores.

    Competing for the business of these major retailers forces the large manufacturers to cut every possible cost out of their products. The result is furniture that lasts only 3 - 5 years.

    Jeff Friday, August 10, 2018
  26. Mary-Susan Mary-Susan I bought all new living room furniture about 13 years ago. One of my chairs is a leather Flexsteel recliner. It is in immaculate condition still except for the reclining mechanism. The metal is broken up under the chair somehow. If I could only find a Flexsteel repairman to come see if it can be fixed, it would be well worth it. I don't regret my purchase at all. I still consider it a high quality chair. Thursday, August 16, 2018
  27. Jan walker Jan walker I love my 9 year old flexsteel sofa and love seat. I also ordered two leather chairs and ottomans. 9 years in the only thing I see is the sofa cushions are a bit flat but I am paying for an upgrade cushion which I should have done when purchased. The store will put my current covers on the new cushions and I hope for another 9 years! Wednesday, September 5, 2018
  28. Jim Jim How can I tell if a particular flexsteel model is in the Latitude line. I searched Flexsteel.com and see for example that they list Evian as its own group and as one of the Latitude line. Can one tell from the group name or material or ?
    Friday, September 14, 2018
  29. Mike Biggs Mike Biggs Flexsteel is not worth the money. A piece of junk for the money. I spent 5000.00 for this set. It replace furniture that cost half that and was twice as old as my Flexsteel and still looked practically new. My Flexsteel looks like crap after 5 years. I’m talking about just me and wife in family. No kids Sunday, September 16, 2018
  30. Rosie servin Rosie servin We bought our flexsteel sfa in 1963 .many slip covers now I want to reupholster.Question the cushions are not as thick as I want.the foam seems to be in good condition,should I add thickness or get new foam?


    Saturday, September 29, 2018
  31. Karen S. Karen S. We bought the Latitude furniture (two recliners, console and chaise) a year and 3 months ago. We noticed the seat backs were flat and the seat itself was like sitting in a hole w/ deep large wrinkles in Jan '18. We finally got someone (end of July '18) to add padding, cushion and replace the springs - which are several and about 3 inches long. We were told these pieces had the blue spring system. Is this true what you stated in your article? [Latitudes sofas do not use the blue steel spring.] The flattening and holes are returning, and the wrinkles never went away - it's fabric not leather. This furniture is going back to FS. There is just me and my husband sitting on the furniture w/o any pets! I am not new to FS as I had a set that lasted 12 years - no problems! Oh yes and their customer service is terrible too! My dealer is trying to do everything to help this situation but is running into the same C/S situations as I am! Tuesday, October 2, 2018
  32. The author
    I received a note from a Flexsteel sales representative a few months ago who says they are now using the blue steel spring in the Latitudes line. It is easy to tell whether or not your furniture has it. If you turn the furniture over and look underneath there will not be a fabric dust cover. You will see the wide flat blue steel spring very clearly if it is there. Tuesday, October 2, 2018
  33. Rosie S. Rosie S. We bought our Flexsteel sofa in 1963 and have had many slipcovers. Now I want to reupholster.

    Question: The cushions are not as thick as I want. The foam seems to be in good condition. Should I add thickness or get new foam? Tuesday, October 2, 2018
  34. The author If you got 50 years use out of the original cushions you are extremely unusual. It is time to get some new ones. Adding thickness to your current cushions is not a good idea for several reasons.

    Get the best quality cushion you can afford. Check out spring down or spring fiber cushions. Those are cushions with a coil spring center surrounded by a foam border and topped with a jacket of down and feathers or fiber. (Fiber is cheaper than feathers. Feathers are cheaper than Down (a very small soft type of feather.)

    The amount of fiber, feathers or down used in a cushion with coil springs is minimal, however, and most people can't tell any difference in comfort for the additional or cost difference (per cushion.)

    If you choose to go with a foam cushion get an HR (High Resiliency) foam with a density of at least 2.2 (preferably 2.5.)

    The most common foam density used for furniture sold in stores is 1.8. That feels fine when brand new, but will begin to break down within 1 - 3 years of normal use.

    Foam densities above 2.5 are available (and will last longer) but are generally used only in public use seating or where a very thin cushion is required.

    One other note - Flexsteel sofas made 50 years ago were far more durable than those made over the past 10 years. Tuesday, October 2, 2018
  35. Dorothy Jones Dorothy Jones In December, 2016 I purchased a Flexsteel reclining sofa and loveseat from Walkers Furniture in Coeur d alene, Idaho. Within approximately 5 to 6 months the seats that my husband and I sit on the sofa and loveseat began to sag at the back of the seat. It continually worsened. I could get a folded towel between the back of seat and back. And the sagging caused back problems from lack of support at the back of the seat. Walkers replaced sofa and loveseat with the same model. It is the latitudes line which I have learned is manufactured in China. I decided on the same models as I thought it might have just been a defect.

    After 4 to 5 months the seats on both sofa and love seat broke down and are sagging at the back with very little support. I contacted Walkers furniture and they are installing what they call a kit to reinforce the seats. Since a kit exists for these problems I believe Flexsteel is well aware of these problems. I did contact Flexsteel on their website and they replied to work thru the store I purchased them from. And my back problems have gotten worse with this 2nd set. If the reinforcements don’t work or not satisfactory what do you recommend me to do. If the problem is not satisfactorily repaired I am considering a product liability suit against Flexsteel and the furniture store. I asked the guys that picked up the loveseat for repair if they pick up other Flexsteel sofas for repair. They replied they do. I suspect there are more issues than the public knows, especially the latitudes line. I thought a manufacturer is to place a label on the items noting country of manufacture. Thank you for your response. Tuesday, October 9, 2018
  36. The author
    Dorothy,

    Thank you for your email. The problems you have described are fairly common for low and mid-priced reclining furniture in general. They are not exclusive to Flexsteel or to imported items. I go into some redetail on this topic in several articles I have written, including my recent article on Best American Made Reclining Furniture.

    Before you consider the time and expense of a product liability lawsuit against Flexsteel, you should be aware that furniture manufacturers are well aware of potential comfort, durability and quality issues with their products. Large reclining pieces, in particular, have a far higher percentage of complaints than stationary seating.

    That is why manufacturers' warranties are written so that there are disclaimers and exclusions for almost all common issues, including the ones that you have described. In addition the manufacturer's warranty will specify that you need to go through the retailer for any remedies.

    You are actually fortunate that you have a retailer that is responsive to your complaints and is attempting to make an effort to help you. That is not always the case. Retailer warranties are often written so that they can insulate themselves from responsibility.

    Most furniture warranties limit liability by excluding anything that can be considered "normal wear." That usually includes all of the most common types of complaints including sagging cushions, worn out fabrics, loose stitching, etc. The exclusions and disclaimers are usually hidden in small print in the middle or at the end of the warranty document.

    If you initiate any litigation there is a high likelihood that you will be unsuccessful. Large companies have corporate attorneys who have encountered all of these arguments previously. You also run the risk of losing the cooperation of your retailer if they are concerned they may be drawn into litigation.

    Your best chance at winning (or settling) a lawsuit is if you can show that a safety hazard exists. Tuesday, October 9, 2018
  37. Dorothy Jones Dorothy Jones Thank you so much for your response and advice. I agree with you regarding all these issues. And yes Walkers has done a lot to resolve the issues. For that i am thankful. I worked in product liability issues on thr insurance side and u are correct on that. If the current repair doesnt help i will sell the furniture and purchase a better grade of furniture. Again thanks. You have been very helpful Tuesday, October 9, 2018
  38. Jenny Jenny Love my flexsteel furniture set. We've had our set going on 9 years and it's still in very good condition. We use our furniture pretty much every day. We lay on our couch quite often. No complaints here. Wednesday, November 28, 2018
  39. DarleneY DarleneY I am so happy with my Flexsteel sofa purchased in 1992 that I was considering upgrading to a loveseat and 2 recliners. Now, I don't know if I should. Friday, November 30, 2018
  40. Russell Noah Russell Noah We purchased a leather sectional sofas 6 months ago and I found that its color faded off right from the side portion of sofa. Leather is also flaking off. So at last I called the store from where I purchased it (All World Furniture) and placed a replacement request and within a week they are at my door with new same furniture piece.

    Thursday, December 27, 2018
  41. T Webb T Webb Hi, I purchased a “real leather” tufted camelback Flexsteel sofa in the mid 1980s. Very good jn general except a sagging right side seat area. It looks god and is otherwise fine. It came with a Life time warranty on the springs, but no one at the original retail even has records from that era. How can I get it repaired to return to completely satisfying seating performance? I find no instructions for repairing their Blue Steel springs Tuesday, January 8, 2019
  42. Buddie Janosko Buddie Janosko Bought Flexsteel power sofa & 2 power recliners (leather Latitudes collection) 6 years ago. The color was wearing off the 2 recliners, the retailer replaced them 4 years ago, now the new recliners, the color is wearing off& nobody wants to hear about it. So now what once looked like beautiful dark brown leather looks like crap in our living room. Very disappointed with Flexsteel! Sunday, January 27, 2019
  43. Liz E Liz E Well, I am just now needing a new sectional. I have owned a Flexsteel Modern sectional since 1977. It was built well and I had it upholstered two times!. Now, I am scared to death to find something that would be just as well built. Price is not an issue. I've seen so much "junk" in the stores. Fancy materials covering particle board like frames. Ugh. Can you direct me to the names of well built sectional? PS I don't have small room issues. Thanks! Monday, January 28, 2019
  44. Al McGuire Al McGuire I purchase a flexsteel chair about a month ago. The cushion is so hard neither my wife or I can sit in it for more than 20 minutes. I went back to the store and they told me I should put the cushion on the floor and walk on it a couple of times each day to break it in.
    This sounds crazy to me. We bought a Flexsteel chair about ten years ago and only replaced it because the fabric wore out.
    The store said they would approach flexsteel about a softer cushion, but we would probably have to pay for it.
    This also sounds crazy.
    What do you recommend? Friday, February 8, 2019
  45. Jean Regenwether Jean Regenwether We are currently looking for a recliner. Our Lazy Boy did not hold up as well as we expected. I owned an Flex Steel wing back and ottaman for over thirty years, great chair. I worked in furniture for about five years, and your comments are on point. Quality in furniture (mid range) has gone down. I do not want to go back to Lazy Boy, although the rest of our Lazy Boy furniture is doing well. What are your suggestions for a recliner. We do not personally care for leather, this will basically be my husbands chair. The dogs and I have the chair and a half. Any input would help. What to look for and such, Thank you Saturday, February 16, 2019
  46. john lamb john lamb I bought a Flex steel leather couch just two years ago
    now every seam is coming apart. We purchased the couch from Malone Wholesale Furniture in Brasher Falls NY. We also Purchased an extended warranty from them at the same time the Price was around ,000 dollars I called the Store and told them the problem and sent them Pictures. They referred us to the Insurer who we contacted and never received a return call or email.
    We have since called the store time and time again and they told us that it was in mediation It has been three months and still no respondents I feel under the circumstances Wholesale Furniture should have made more of effort to get this resolved before this but,sadly they have not. I think it is ashame that when you buy, local and in good faith you would stand behind your product. Wednesday, February 20, 2019
  47. Lori Bryant Lori Bryant We bought what we were told was a leather,sectional sofa. 2 1/2 years later my spot is cracking and pealing. I am a 130 lb 58 yr old. It was not a low cost sofa. This of course is not covered by my extended warranty. The retailer sent someone to take pictures and write a report. Waiting in the answer. Meanwhile I feel ripped off. Thursday, February 21, 2019
  48. Lisa F. Lisa F. Purchased Downtown Latitude Sectional. Very disappointed. Light use, no children in home and sofa fabric and cushions are not holding up after only 3 years. Do not purchase! Monday, March 11, 2019
  49. The author Your complaint is very similar to what most people are experiencing with mid-priced reclining furniture.
    Flexsteel is actually a pretty good company compared with many other mid-priced upholstered furniture manufacturers.

    However you need to avoid the problem areas that cause the vast majority of customer complaints. These apply to all low and mid-priced upholstered furniture companies. Unfortunately your Downtown Latitudes sectional appears to fall into all of these problems areas (except for the bonded leather.)

    In my blog article I specifically warn about these major sources of problems and complaints:
    Bonded leather fabrics
    Reclining sofas and sectionals - especially those with power mechanisms. (There are fewer problems with individual recliners.)
    Tight (non removable) seat and back cushions.
    Chinese made products. (Latitudes is Flexsteel's Chinese made line.)
    If you are planning on purchasing reclining furniture again you may want to check out Who are the best American Made reclining sofa and sectional manufacturers? on the Simplicity Sofas blog.
    It lists a dozen American made reclining furniture manufacturers, including several that are superior in quality to Flexsteel (and its mid-priced competitors.)

    You may also want to check out What Everyone Need to Know Before Buying Their Next Couch! before you purchase your next furniture.

    Jeff Frank, President
    Simplicity Sofas
    Monday, March 11, 2019

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