Furniture is an essential part of every home. Everyone enjoys a comfortably furnished home where everything is just the way they want it and today, more than ever, it is possible to have just what you want.

Thanks to new materials, construction and styles, consumers can find an almost unlimited range of furniture in every style and price range.

As with any investment, however, it pays to keep some basic facts in mind before you begin furniture shopping.

The process of buying furniture does not have to be stressful. By researching and preparing, furniture shopping can be a pleasant experience for you and your family. The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas offers these tips:

Check the businesses’ reliability Make sure the businesses you plan on patronizing are reliable by checking with the Better Business Bureau at A business that strives to satisfy will have a business record indicating that complaints, if any, are addressed and resolved in a timely manner.

Decide what is needed Figure out what pieces need to be purchased or replaced and consider the desired use of the furniture. Is the piece going to be used long-term or short term? Consider if the item is going to be used mostly by children or adults. These components contribute to what material, type and construction of furniture should be purchased.

Make a plan When shopping, it is important to measure the space of the room and the surrounding objects. Bring a sketch of your floor plan and a tape measure while shopping to easily measure and decide if a piece of furniture is the correct size. It is also important to measure any doors or hallways that the new piece is required to travel through. Some stores even offer free online room planners to aid you in designing your space.

Set a budget Come up with an overall budget as well as a budget for each individual piece. A larger budget is needed for items that are more durable, higher quality, and are going to be used long-term. When considering prices, factor in tax, delivery charge and the amount of each payment.

Research materials The two major types of furniture are upholstered and case goods. Upholstered furniture consists of items such as sofas that are cushions covered in various fabrics. When buying an upholstered good, there should be enough padding that the frame should not be felt if the arm is clutched. Case goods include items such as tables and cabinets that are not upholstered. Both types of furniture can be constructed out of many different types of wood.

Shop around There are a variety of stores – specialty furniture stores, department stores and online stores. Before purchasing from one store, shop around and ask family and friends for guidance. Look for clearances or sales in the spring and fall. There are often deals for purchasing the display item or “as is” items. Make sure you ask about the extras such as delivery or shipping. Free delivery or shipping can make a good deal a great one.

Understand the warranty and return policy It is important to read the warranty to know exactly what the business will take care of if there is an issue. Also, learn the businesses’ return policy in the event you decide return an item.

The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews and BBB Wise Giving Reports to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. For information or to check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit, which includes our BBB Accredited Business Directory, or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions regarding homeowner issues to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail her at Include mailing address and phone number on letters and emails.