Industry sector: Manufacturing

Furniture maker: What to manufacture


The furniture industry as a whole covers a wide range of different types of product, often targeted at different buyers. You could produce furniture for the domestic market or for the contract furnishings market (for example for businesses such as pubs, hotels and other venues open to the public) or for office furnishing. The domestic market is the largest, accounting for about 70% of sales, while the contract and office furniture markets together account for about 30%. Bear in mind that homes have been getting smaller, so if you are aiming at the mainstream domestic market consider making smaller items of furniture. You will need to give some thought to the market/s your furniture ranges will be aimed at.

The next step is to decide on the type/s of furniture you will be making - for example wooden or upholstered, fitted or free-standing.

Wooden furniture includes:

  • cabinet furniture such as wall and floor cupboards, chests, bookcases and other storage units
  • free-standing kitchen cabinets and other units
  • desks, tables
  • chairs, stools
  • occasional furniture
  • garden furniture

Wooden furniture can be made from a variety of materials, including solid wood and man-made products such as chipboard, plywood or medium density fibreboard (MDF). Veneers may be made from natural or synthetic materials. The completed piece may be polished, oiled, lacquered, stained or painted.

Upholstered furniture, which is the biggest sub-sector of the furniture industry, includes:

  • sofas
  • chairs, upholstered stools
  • three-piece suites
  • some types of bed

As with wooden furniture, various different materials are likely to be used in the construction of upholstered items, including wood, metal and plastic for constructing frames and a variety of textiles and leather for making the coverings. Cushions may be filled with foam, polyester fibre or feathers. Domestic furniture is covered by fire safety legislation which sets flammability standards for the exterior fabric and the fillings used to construct an upholstered item.

You might consider offering a bespoke service as well as producing standard ranges of products. This could include fitted bedroom furniture and bespoke wooden kitchens.