5 Things To Consider When Buying Used Furniture To Refinish

Refurbished Table 2

For the past few years now we have gotten into buying used furniture to refinish and repurpose. We started this venture because we needed new furniture for ourselves and didn’t have the money to buy brand new… so, we went with the next best thing and tried to find quality furniture that could be refinished to fit our needs and style. We love how the furniture comes to life after a little TLC.  Through the process of buying and refinishing we have definitely had some lemons and have learned what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to buying used furniture to restore. So we wanted to share a few things to consider when buying used furniture to refinish.

Refinished side table 3


1. When it comes to refinishing furniture, the biggest key I have found is looking at the material from which it’s made. The simplest material to work with when it comes to refinishing and repurposing furniture is real wood. There is a lot of furniture out there now that is made of particle board and veneer and trying to refinish veneer and particleboard is not easy and the quality isn’t as good. If there is something wrong with it, fixing it is going to probably end up costing you more than you want, and it can take a little more skill and time to fix. For me, I like a piece of furniture that I know is built well, stable, and if something does happen to it I know I can fix it which is a big factor of  why I will look for natural wood pieces. One way to look for real wood pieces is by the weight of the piece (natural wood pieces generally are going to be heavier), the grain of the wood, and the quality of the drawers (are they made of real wood and have dove tails etc.)

2. Something else I will look at is the condition the piece is in. A few scratches and dings are ok, with a little work these can be fixed or sanded out. If there is something broken on the piece, then you really need to analyze it and see if it is an easy fix or not. If you are buying a piece that’s broken, one thing that needs to be considered is if it is a total loss in your opinion or is most of it salvageable and can it be repurposed as something else? If it looks like the furniture is going to be more work than you want to put into it, it probably is. Go with your gut instinct. You don’t want to end up just getting rid of it after paying money for it.
Refurbished Table 3

3. When you find a piece of furniture, before you buy it, know the purpose for which the piece will be used. Is it something you will be using yourself, selling, or even repurposing it and turning it into something new? I have found that if I buy something, I need to have a purpose for it otherwise it just sits there and haunts me taking up space I don’t have.

4. Don’t spend too much on the piece. Have an idea of what something new would cost compared to buying it used. When you go into buying a used piece, have an idea of how much work it will take to get it to how you want it, and have an idea of how much money it will cost to refurbish. Keep it reasonable. I know when it comes to buying used, a lot of people are willing to negotiate on a fair price, so don’t be afraid to barter a little as well.

Refurbished Table 4

5. Last but not least, have an idea of what you would want the piece to look like when it’s finished. Having a game plan ahead of time will make things a whole lot simpler throughout the process. When you buy a piece, it may look hideous at first, but don’t always let that scare you off.  Sometimes it takes looking past what it looks like and imagine what it could look like if you refinished it. We bought a piece that we didn’t like the look of at all until I had stripped the original finish off of it. Once the original finish was off, it was amazing how beautiful the piece actually was.

Refurbished Table 2

We hope you found this post helpful for buying that next piece of furniture to renew. For other helpful tips for refinishing furniture you can also check out our posts of what we did to refurbish an antique table and how to easily sand detailed furniture.

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