Used furniture is a mainstay of most thrift stores. Learn this hack and you can add gorgeous pieces to your home for a fraction of the cost of new.
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I was provided free paint and wax from DecoArt in exchange for sharing a project on the blog using these products. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and are not influenced in any way by DecoArt.
Where to Buy Used Furniture
If there’s one thing you can consistently find at thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets, and sales groups…it’s used furniture!
In fact, you can sometimes even find it for free – when you scout curbs and local papers. People are often more than willing to get rid of pieces they no longer want in their way.
You’ll never be at a loss to find some when you thrift shop or scout, and a series of hacks on thrift shopping wouldn’t be complete without including it.
But before you run off and snag the first piece you see, there are a few things to keep in mind. These tips make all the difference in how well your used furniture project will turn out.
Who Buys Used Furniture?
I know there’s various opinions on buying used furniture. Some people simply won’t do it.
And to be fair, there are some pieces I won’t bring home at all – like mattresses or most anything upholstered. I don’t want to unknowingly bring any pests, foreign pet dander, or other yucky stuff into our home.
Beyond that, I’m all game.
If you’re not opposed to buying used either, all you need to do is set your own standards for what you’re willing to bring home. With that you should be just fine.
Why Buy Used Furniture?
When you shop used, not only can you get a better deal, but you also have a lot of creative license.
It’s kind of thrilling to find a piece that needs a little clean up and/or updating, then get your creative hands on it!
And it’s absolutely amazing how some ho-hum pieces can be transformed into stunning works of art.
Plus, if you’re a little unsure about refinishing furniture, starting with something second-hand that you got for a great deal helps ease you in without the fear of ruining something you paid big bucks for.
What to Look For
Before buying, it’s good to have an idea of what you’re going to do with your piece. And, you certainly want to make sure you don’t bring home something you’ll regret later. Use these guidelines to help you decide what to leave behind, and what to snag.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind when you shop for used furniture made from wood:
- Hardwood furniture will be sturdier that softwood. Consider how you’ll use your piece when you shop.
- Check for veneer. It’s common for them to be glued over less expensive or imperfect wood. Watch for particle board or knotty foundations. You don’t have to avoid them altogether, but do consider the use of your piece and the fact that veneer can’t be repeatedly refinished.
- Check construction. Look for dowel or screwed joints instead of staples, nails, or glue. If your piece has drawers, check out the joints there too, as well as how easily the drawers slide and stay in place. Dovetail joints are strong and generally a sign of good quality.
- How stable is it? Finishes can be changed, but a wobbly piece of furniture is a whole different challenge. Unless you have furniture repair skills (or know someone who does), it’s best to leave a wobbler behind.
- Consistency of wood. A better-quality piece will have consistent wood throughout, and not just making the best wood most visible.
Metal and plastic pieces are a lot easier to judge at first glance, and won’t require such a keen eye. Most of them are meant for outdoor uses anyway, and are generally pretty durable. Watch out specifically for rust on metal pieces, and cracks or breaks on plastic.
How to Update a Used Wood Chair
We’ve had this thrifted chair for a while.
We bought a pair of them, actually, at a thrift shop a few years ago when we needed a couple extra chairs around the house.
Since they’re really just extra chairs floating around now, I decided to use one as my desk chair. But that varnished oak finish was in sore need of an update. I decided to dress it up with some girly chalk paint colors.
I know there are a lot of people out there who don’t sand furniture before using chalk paint.
I’m not one of them.
I like a smooth, clean surface for painting projects, so before getting started, I went over my chair with sandpaper to remove the varnish and any grime.
A good, clean white was exactly what I wanted, so I used Deco-Art Everlasting Chalky Finish. This paint is an absolute dream! It covers well, resists drag, and dries quickly.
I also wanted to add a splash of color, so instead of painting the entire chair white, I saved the spindles for something special.
DecoArt Innocence Chalky Finish is the perfect sweet and gentle pink. I absolutely adore this color and used it for this wood planter too.
And for a little sparkle accent, I used DecoArt Soft Silver Matte Metallics to highlight portions of the legs.
And to finish, I coated it all with DecoArt Clear Creme Wax to seal and protect the finish after the paint dried.
Now that outdated oak chair has a fresh and feminine new look!
Finding used furniture at thrift stores is so easy, and updating them to fit your own style and decor is a perfect way to get creative without breaking the bank!
So the next time you visit a thrift store, yard sale, or flea market, be sure to check out the used furniture.
And if you happen to see a curb haul, hit those brakes girl, and see if it’s worth your creative efforts.
You may just upcycle the most amazing piece of furniture yet!
There’s more! Read How to Thrift Shop Like a PRO for all ten hacks.