If you have ever visited a furniture store to buy pieces to furnish your home, there’s one thing you know for sure: Furniture, at least high-quality furniture, is expensive. Outfitting your home with tables, chairs, sofas, beds and everything else can easily run into the thousands of dollars, with some single high-end pieces running that much alone.

Because good quality furnishings do cost so much, most people have a mashup of pieces in their homes, ranging from hand-me-downs and discount store finds to more expensive pieces. The question is, though, how can you be sure that the pieces you’re buying from the furniture store are good quality and will hold up for years to come? Just because a piece is sold in a nice store and styled well, or costs a lot, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s high-quality. As you shop for home furnishings, look for the following signs of a high-quality, well-made piece that will last for years to come.

Know Your Wood

Wood is the most common material used in furniture making, but not all woods are created equal. There is a significant difference between solid wood, wood veneers, and MDF or particle board when it comes to the look, feel and durability of your furniture.

Solid wood is the most durable — and the most expensive type of furniture. As the name implies, it’s made entirely of a particular type of wood. Much of what is called wood furniture is actually a wood veneer, in which a thin sheet of a higher-quality wood is used to cover less expensive types of wood, like plywood. This lowers the price of the item, but as long as the wood base is high-quality, the only real drawback is that you can’t refinish the piece multiple times without wearing away the veneer.

If you are looking for a real quality piece of furniture, avoid anything made from MDF, particle board, pressed wood or fiberboard. Furniture made from these materials is inexpensive, and it usually looks at it. It’s also not durable. You should also make sure that your wood pieces do not contain any knots and that the surface holds up to scratches.

Identify Quality Construction

Even the most durable wood furniture won’t hold up if it’s poorly constructed. Furniture that is held together by staples, nails or, worst of all, glue is not top quality and is likely to fall apart over time. Instead, look for furniture that is constructed using screws, dowels or, best of all, has joints held together by a dovetail or mortise-and-tenon construction. Dovetail joints have a series of interlocking “teeth” that hold the pieces together, while a mortise-and-tenon construction inserts the narrow end of one piece into a hole in the other. In either case, corners of pieces should also have a reinforcing block as well.

Other things to look for are drawers that slide in and out easily, that all of the legs touch the floor and that it doesn’t wobble, twist or make noise when lifted or moved. Ask about the assembly process as well. Most furniture stores will deliver and set up your pieces, but if not, you should consider hiring a Denver furniture assembly service to tackle the job. Putting furniture together incorrectly can cause unnecessary wear and tear and reduce the life of the piece.

Evaluating Upholstery

Upholstered pieces often see more wear and tear than other types of furniture, so it’s usually best to buy the highest quality you can afford. This is especially true when buying a mattress. Consider how much time you spend in your bed and the effect that poor sleep has on your overall well-being. This is not an area to cheap out on.

So how do you know what makes a piece high-quality? For starters, look at the seams of the piece. Are they straight and even or crooked in spots with loose threads? Check the springs and cushions of upholstered chairs and sofas. Remove the cushions and press down on the base; the springs should compress and then pop back up. It’s best to purchase cushions that are completely covered with fabric, rather than just one side – especially if the covers are removable. This way, you can flip the cushions every so often to ensure even wear and wash the covers when necessary.

As far as sofa legs, they should be made of wood (other materials can ruin your floor) and joined into the sofa, not just nailed it. More expensive sofas often have a fifth leg in the middle to provide extra support. If you are purchasing an expensive sofa, this is worth looking for to keep it looking great.

Above all, your furniture should fit your lifestyle. While upholstered furniture typically needs to be replaced every few years, well-made wood tables and other pieces can last for generations. Keep that in mind when you are shopping, and you’ll get the most value for your money.