Furniture Quality Guide: Big Box Stores vs. Amish Craftsmen

furniture quality

The similarities between a table from a big box superstore and a handcrafted one from Martin’s Furniture: they’re both tables — and that’s about it. When it comes to furniture quality, big box stores can’t compare to heirloom pieces built by Amish craftsmen. If you’re wondering what the real difference is, then this furniture quality guide is for you.

At Martin’s Furniture, we exclusively create and sell the highest quality handcrafted furniture. We feel it’s our mission to educate the world about true wooden furniture quality and the advantages of it.

Exploring Furniture Quality

When comparing true handcrafted furniture with the pieces you find in a big box store, some people see the different prices and they can’t understand how a set of chairs could cost such a different amount of money. Although it’s cliché, “You get what you pay for,” is very much in effect. We’re not saying that there is NEVER a time to buy an inexpensive piece of mass-produced furniture, but if you want something you’ll cherish and eventually pass down to your children, the furniture you find at your local big box store isn’t it.

We’re here to break down the differences and compare quality between handcrafted wooden furniture and the differences in owning it.

  1. The Right Materials — Our furniture quality guide starts with the materials — just like our crafting process starts with healthy pieces of lumber. Martin’s Furniture exclusively uses solid hardwood from a variety of wood species to build our gorgeous and durable pieces. On the other hand, you’ll hardly ever find furniture in a box store made from real wood. Instead, most of their pieces of furniture are built from laminate or particle board. Not only does real wood look and feel like nothing else, it is also FAR more durable than those manufactured materials — more on why this matters, later.
  2. Craftsmanship — Every piece of furniture we sell was handmade by a single craftsmen, often taking days or weeks to finish one piece. In fact, any piece from Martin’s Furniture will be signed by the craftsmen who made it. Compare this to the massive factories where assembly lines churn out countless pieces every hour. Our process is geared toward quality and theirs toward quantity. Big box store pieces aren’t built as sturdy as true handcrafted furniture, and they feature smaller bracings and less bolts. All of this contributes to a drastically shorter lifespan
  3. Finish — Once again, furniture quality comes down to a piece being the sum of its parts. At Martin’s Furniture, we finish all of our furniture with a clear coat, which boosts the durability. The clear coat equips your furniture with resistance to scratching and other wear — which will come in handy since you’ll have it for decades. However, big box store furniture mills use an inexpensive lacquer finish, which is softer and becomes easily scratched.
  4. Lifespan — One of the most important aspects to highlight in our furniture quality guide, the lifespan of anything from a superstore will pale in comparison to an heirloom quality piece. Since corners are cut throughout the production process, the big box store’s furniture just won’t last. Since real wood is far more durable, the fasteners and screws can maintain their hold for years, while cheaper furniture begins to wear down as soon as you start to use it. In addition, because the pieces will be less solidly built, chair legs will begin to wobble, table tops will come loose, and desks will start falling apart. Any Martin’s Furniture piece is built well enough to last for decades. Bottom line: while a big box store will always have a cheaper price up front, the gorgeous piece of custom furniture you buy will last infinitely longer.
  5. Custom Options — In addition to a piece of custom furniture lasting long enough that you can pass it down to your children, there’s one other crucial difference: customization. When you buy mass-produced furniture from a chain store, you get only what they sell — no customization, no personalization. When you build with a true craftsman, everything is custom. You get to have a conversation with the person who will build your piece. From its shape, to the wood species, to the stain, your piece will truly be one-of-a-kind, and it’ll mean so much more, too.

Handcrafted Furniture for Your Home

While Martin’s Furniture does build truly stunning furniture pieces for any room in your house from kitchens to bedrooms, we know our product isn’t perfect for everyone. We build furniture for customers who appreciate the lifelong value of the custom furniture we build for them. As we always say: the joy of a low price item is short lived, but the sense of joy in pride of having a great quality handcrafted product lasts for a lifetime.

On the other hand, just because big box store furniture comes up short in furniture quality comparison doesn’t mean that it’s completely worthless. Big box store furniture can be good for people who don’t want to worry about taking care of it.

Learn more about our custom furniture designs.

handmade display cabinet

amish made sideboard

Custom-Built Amish Furniture

Now that you know about the importance of furniture quality, the fun can begin. If you’re interested in completing your home with a piece of hand-built custom furniture, we’re here to help. At Martin’s Furniture, we build stunning pieces that fit every room of your house, including home offices and living rooms.

In addition, every single piece can be customized or built entirely from the ground up to meet your sense of style. Contact us to start the conversation.

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