Frequently asked questions regarding zero flame retardant furniture line, "Condo Sofa:"
Why is there no pricing, or limited pricing on this website?
We built this website to attract local consumers to our store, and underestimated demand for our zero flame retardant styles nationally. A new site is coming that will offer simplified choices and a clean shopping cart - thanks working with us in the meantime!
To address many consumer requests, we show only grade 5 prices (that's the grade of our best selling OEKO-TEX Standard 100 non-toxic fabrics are priced at) in the description for our Condo Sofa designs. We have 71 certified non-toxic fabrics that are at the grade 5 price point; those asking about our furniture from distant locations are often looking for nontoxic fabrics on the nontoxic sofas we designed. These OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified fabrics do not contain any harmful chemicals and do not contain any chemical flame retardants.
We can email you our complete price list upon request. All sales, local and across the country via this site, use the same pricing.
Only our website will feature all our available designs, and as we develop new furniture styles, they will appear only on our website.
Why is there no shopping cart or online purchasing on this site?
We are both forward-looking and traditional, preferring to engage with each consumer to know how we can best serve their lifestyle needs with our furniture. Sometimes that involves helping people learn about how our furniture is made, and how different options may be worth considering for each piece of furniture. Furniture choices should reflect your personality, as well as forethought, care, and planning. The benefits of a well thought-out decision should last many years.
Without respect for traditional, proven methods and a ken for applying new technologies to create better products, we'd have very little to offer the small home owner with discerning taste. Because we embrace technology, you found our site full of furniture designed on CAD systems, but because we also guard financial information security, we move cautiously through the process of actually finalizing your order and accept payment only over the phone, person to person. Please never email credit card information to us or another party, and do not leave credit card information on telephone answering machines/services.
We feel it is worthwhile to make a well-considered decision so that the furniture we offer reflects well on you (and us) in many years. There are many sites you can shop through to buy quickly without an environmentally minded + practical designer's input!
How are your Condo Sofas constructed?
We don't design and create organic furniture, or furniture with no chemicals whatsoever. That would cost more than the average consumer can afford, and then we would be making very little difference in the world. We offer nontoxic sofa and seating alternatives (standardly built furniture without unnecessary carcinogens) for healthy people who want well made, American built, furniture that is affordable and customizable. We began removing all flame retardants from the materials that go into our designs years ago, because it was the right thing to do, and finished doing so in 2012 before most people knew carcinogenic chemicals were being put into furniture. For more information on toxic flame retardants, please read this summary and then do your own research into the topic to arrive at your own conclusions. Our conclusion was that, whatever the cost, we would remove the unnecessary carcinogens from our designs.
Note: new FAQs on the Green Science Policy Institute answer lots of great questions very well:
We use eight-way hand-tied springs on frames made of a combination of hardwood and furniture grade plywood made specifically for upholstery frames from hardwoods certified as sustainably harvested by SFI .
Where we live and work in Maine, we heat our homes from October through April, with drier air seeping in and moist air escaping throughout the long winters, so solid hardwood frames may dry, warp, crack, and sometimes creak over a period of ten or more years (longer than most furniture is designed to last). We also get lots of requests to modify sizes, dimensions, make frame changes, etc. Hardwood frames made of solid wood parts only are not the best for colder climes nor are they conducive to the flexibility we need in order to inexpensively modify frames to fit a person's body or space. We therefore use an American made plywood that is made with soy glues, without added urea formaldehyde or toluene, constructed from sustainably harvested hardwoods specially for furniture construction. The use of CAD systems to generate cutting files for CNC machines makes affordable customization a great feature of our line.
Our 8-way hand tied springs, which can't be fastened into end-grain plywood, require us to add hardwood solids in those areas where we need to nail the twine tying up the springs. We use sinuous (also called "no-sag" or "zig zag" springs) only in the tight backs of some sofas and chairs.
These construction methods result in exceptionally strong frames made with sustainably harvested materials, many recycled materials, and zero flame retardants in the batting, polyurethane foam, smolder barriers, and Dacron. Our expert partners then cut fabric with professional skill, laying patterns out by hand when necessary, and the entire factory adds lasting value as the piece moves through a state-of-the-art factory in rural North Carolina.
For Condo Sofa nontoxic upholstery furniture Warranty Information, please click here.
What about the foam - what's in it?
We use 100% polyurethane foam with zero flame retardants. Our foam is of exceptional, long lasting quality, which enables us to offer lifetime warranty (a single replacement free of charge, though shipping charges may apply). While some state the polyurethane foam may emit toxic gases, those foams made using inexpensive materials with additives such as urea formaldehyde and drying agents like toluene are the cheaper polyurethane foams that cause eye and respiratory irritation, nausea, headaches, etc.
Dr. Heather Stapleton at Duke University met with me, Ross Endicott, near the Duke campus in 2013, and we discussed the concerns mentioned on some website concerning polyurethane foam. Her unofficial summary was that cheaper foams can be dangerous, but better, sturdy, and more expensive premium foams are not the source of any significant concerns with respect to indoor air quality.
We do not yet offer latex foam seat cushions, because the cost has been too high for most people who have asked (we get about 30-50 inquiries a year about this, and none has wanted to move forward with the cost of replacing our poly foam cushions with natural latex). Substitution of the foam seat cores for natural latex alone more than doubles the cost of the furniture. We strive to provide safer and healthier solutions everyone can afford, recognizing there may be some shortcomings in our materials for some people. Removing the carcinogenic flame retardants was our main focus; finding suitable alternatives made from clean, dependable, biodegradable/recycled materials is also important to us. Developing an affordable alternative to poly foam seat cores will take more time. Presently few people express concern about the polyurethane foam without chemical flame retardants, so it may be some time before consumer-led demand alters the commercial perception of need for an alternative to polyfoam. We, however, have begun working to develop an affordable latex core option, but this will take some time (REE, 2015-05-01)
What about the sleeper mattresses?
There are no flame retardants in our mattresses. Instead of boric acid, chemicals and carcinogens, our mattresses use the same nontoxic smolder barriers made of polyester patting that we had tested by California's state abs in Sacramento, and therefore our sleep sofas are 100% free of chemical flame retardants.
Our sleepers work like a conventional sleeper you have probably seen before. The mechanism is under the seat cushions, and opens out to become a bed in front of and over the area where the seat cushions were. We changed a lot of things you probably would never look for, but would feel in the substance and comfort when laying on the open mattress. We don't use the mattress as a foundation for supporting the seat cushions, instead using stronger tarpaulin material, stronger helical springs, and extra cross-wires mounted with springs to keep people from feeling the bars, which we lowered so they are not at the height of the tarpaulin, which must flex a bit. We also don't compress the mattress much at all when we close the mechanism up to fold and stow it in the closed position, so when it opens, you have inner coil springs that are not tired out from supporting everyday sitting. When it's closed, we use the same mechanics (stronger tarpaulin material, stronger helical springs, and extra cross-wires mounted with springs) to prevent the everyday use and seating weight from wearing out the mattress.
In order to appreciate these subtle, but significant changes, and how comfortable the sleepers are as a result, it makes sense to come and try them in our store.
We also offer an optional air-over-coil combination mattress. Over our standard 6" thick mattress, we have the option (for $389, regardless of size) of upgrading the mattress to an 11" adjustable firmness air mattress that inflates 5" tall over the standard 6" mattress. This is all done with an electronic control, and it only takes about :60 to inflate or deflate with power. If there is no power source available, the sleeper is still fine with the 6" inner coil spring mattress, but the inflatable portion makes it a real bed, and makes getting in and out hardly distinguishable from a real bed in height, as well as feel.
NOTE: On sofa and chair frames 33" deep, when we offer a sleeper in any size, the depth will increase to 36" to accommodate the mechanism, which must fold up and retract into that depth frame for stowing.
What about the fabrics?
Just as a restaurant may work with several suppliers for its fish, meats, and wine selection, we work with a factory which sources its fabrics from many different mills and distributors. That is why you will see us link to the factory's selection of fabrics, and when you ask us for details, we may need to ask the factory to ask the mill or distributor for that information.
We make available the fabrics and top grain leathers from Temple Furniture for use on our designs, which is why we link to them in the tab "Available Fabrics" under each of our product pages showing a Condo Sofa product. Most fabrics we have access to do not come with durability or chemical treatment information. To know whether a fabric has been treated with a particular chemical or compound, we have to specifically ask whether that chemical is present in the manufacture of the fabric. Transparency is not something fabric mills and distributors are generally prepared to answer; most consumers started becoming more interested in the makeup of fabrics just within the last few years. Therefore, there's usually a long lead time when we ask our factory to contact mills for answers, and in many cases the fabrics are produced overseas, so the information may not be accurate or verifiable.
Most fabrics have a cleaning code that harkens back to when professional cleaning services used solvent based cleaners and water based cleaners. Most modern cleaning services today do not use solvent based cleaners, instead using powerful suction to remove all the moisture when cleaning with a nontoxic water based cleaner.
Because most US fabric mills are gone and/or overseas now, and most fabrics we see come in thinner, with a reinforcement backing, it is very important that he backings not get wet or, with any spot cleaning, be permitted to remain wet. The backings can become compromised over time after a single exposure to moisture, leading to stretching, unraveling, or other adverse effects, sometimes months after the area was allowed to become wet. If you have a fabric that you believe has a cleaning code, click here to see what our suppliers recommend for care instructions.
Therefore we recommend to anyone with an acute concern or skepticism of more widely available upholstery fabrics to either stick to the 71 fabrics we know are certified OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified non-toxic, or to provide your own material at additional cost.
We charge for Customer's Own Material, which means you would be paying for a sofa as though you selected a fabric, then you'll also pay for your own cut yardage, UPS charges to have it sent to us, inspection charges covering our cost to make sure the fabric can be applied without defects, plus a second UPS charge for shipping to the factory. Please see below for more information on COM, or using your own material.
COM: Customer's Own Material
We will use fabric provided by a consumer subject to our inspection and handling schedule. We must ensure the fabric is defect-free, because we are responsible in the event that a slub, run or defect goes undetected into the production of your furniture. We will not handle COM orders where the fabric is sent directly to the factory unless the consumer is willing to waive rights to all warranty and claims. COM yardage must be shipped directly to our store in Maine. We will accept fabric only after the consumer has placed an order with 100% deposit paid, because we need to first place the order with the factory to have reference numbers to use when submitting the inspected fabric for production.
For inspection, handling, and re-packaging the fabric, we charge $50 per 25 yards or part thereof. In exchange for this fee, we inspect, identify, enumerate and mark all defects, summarize findings in a report, and send to the factory along with photos of all defects found. Actual UPS charges and insurance paid by us to ship the inspected fabric to the factory are passed on to the consumer with no extra charges. The UPS and handling fees must be paid before the furniture leaves the factory.
What if the furniture doesn't fit, can I return it?
No, we will make every effort to help you determine whether the size of a piece will fit into the place you want it to go in your home. This can generally be done with emailed photographs and a few phone conversations. The consumer purchasing the furniture, however, is ultimately and solely responsible for making sure furniture fits where it is intended to ultimately go. Returns are authorized on a case by case basis with very few incidents annually because we accept returns for manufacturing defects or order entry mistakes only. Any freight damage must be noted on the driver's paperwork, and must be handled as a freight damage claim. We will act with you, advocate for you, and make sure a resolution is closely managed to minimize inconvenience and hardship for the consumer. Any seriously damaged items should, of course, be rejected at the time of delivery, with clear notes on the driver's paperwork. We will work on your behalf with the transport company and the factory to expedite a rush replacement at no charge. Minor repairs can be handled locally in many cases, but that would be an option only upon agreement with the transport company, ourselves, and the consumer.
How do I order?
Take as much time to decide as you need. We are in no hurry and want your purchase to reflect well on you and us for many years to come. If unable to visit our store, we will work via telephone and email, sending you information and cuttings of fabrics, tools to help you plan your purchase, and lots of guidance to help you determine your best outcome. In our store, we ask lots of questions to make sure the furniture will be a good fit, and put particular emphasis on making sure the cover(s) chosen are sensible and fit your lifestyle. All these factors will result in your making a purchase only if you are very comfortable with your choices, and only once you have considered many points we may bring to your attention, outside what people might think of everyday. This is our lifeblood, not necessarily what consumers think of everyday, so we try to make sure you make well informed decisions.
We do not have a payment system attached to this site, but can take Visa, MasterCard, and Discover over the phone. This is intentional: we don't want a lot of click through business, because we feel strongly that by interacting with you we will help make the purchase one you are thrilled about, and which lasts and lasts in your lifestyle.
Once we have settled purchase details, including the requirement that the factory pack every piece being shipped directly from the factory to directly to a consumer's home - please see next section for details - we write up the order, scan it, and email it to you for review. We ask you to check it carefully to ensure everything is written correctly, and if so, respond with your approval by email, which will serve as your signature on the ordering line of our sales order. If we need to make changes, you let us know and we re-send the scanned, revised sales order again for your approval.
A minimum of 50% is required to put the order into production (more if customized, see "Payment" below). You may call anytime during our business hours to provide credit card (Visa or M/C) payment info, as we never store that info here. REMINDER: Please, for security reasons, NEVER email your credit card info or leave that info on an answering machine.
We require consumers wanting in-home delivery to purchase a special packing service from the factory that builds the furniture. This service protects against incidental moving damages. The factory wraps the furniture tightly in friction, dust and moisture protective packing materials, then places each piece in a heavy duty carton. We then require the furniture to be picked up from the factory and transported to you in the carton, to be unwrapped curbside at the destination. The furniture is delivered into your home and all trash removed. We've had zero issues since we began shipping merchandise in cartons. This service costs the consumer $50 per ottoman, $70 per chair and $120 per loveseat or sofa, and is payable (along with the balance for the furniture) before the order will be released. For instance, a two piece sectional comprised of a sofa and a chaise would require two sofa cartons at $120 each; the Miles sofa and ottoman would require a sofa box at $120 and an ottoman box at $50.
Home delivery rates start with a flat fee for up to 200 lbs. using your zip code. Any shipments with combined weight over 200 lbs must be quoted. Delivery persons are not permitted to move your furniture out of the way, as they are on a schedule with many stops in multiple states. It is solely the consumer's responsibility to make sure the furniture ordered will not only fit where it is intended to go, but pass though all walkways, doorways, hallways, etc. into the space. The "Prep before visiting" document includes some guidance on how delivery of a piece wider than a door might be done, but again, it's up to the consumer to make sure things will fit - we don't accept returns on custom orders.
Standard orders (without customization or use of customer's own material) are prepaid with a 50% deposit before the order goes into production, with the balance paid before the furniture leaves the factory. Orders involving any custom frame changes or options are subject to higher prepaid deposits, i.e. 75-100% prepaid before the order enters production. Currently $0 sales and use tax applies to shipments direct from the NC factory to any state outside Maine.
To ask specific questions about our products on the website at any time:
1.) create an account on our website www.condofurniture.com
2.) add items of interest to the wish list
3.) in the text box beneath each item, add the questions you have about each item
4.) share the wish list by emailing it to email@example.com (that email address is on the website, just to your left when viewing your wish list).