1.) Try out furniture before you buy: ‘Sample’ the furniture before money exchanges hands. Open up drawers in cabinets, sit in chairs and lean on tables. If an item has been damaged you need to confirm that it is still in satisfactory shape for you to start using at your home. Even if it is damaged, make sure you are confident you or someone else can fix it and pay appropriately for the condition of the piece.
2.) Reupholstering can you save you money: Second hand and old furniture may have been constructed with quality structural components and may just need a ‘facelift’. Similar to renovating an older home, furniture was made with better workmanship and quality products years ago. Instead of passing over an old looking Queen Ann chair at an antique store, think of the potential and money savings to buying a brand new replica furniture piece.
3.) Pay attention to the support system of couches: Couches are not created equal in their inner construction. Be wary of mesh support or Styrofoam peanuts for the sofa cushions. They will not last a long time. Instead, opt for an eight-way hand-tied support construction and cushions that are filled with down feathers or wrapped foam.
4.) Laminate and veneer furniture can be beautiful: Don’t pass up veneer and laminate furniture just because it isn’t solid wood. Check for veneer adhering to the particle board or substrate material it is affixed to. Depending on where you will use the piece of furniture, laminate furniture can take more abuse and daily wear and tear than wood. Often times laminate can be glued back if it is coming apart, but be wary of pieces that have large sections not adhering.
5.) Hardwood furniture will last longer when taken care of: Hardwoods such as oak and maple make durable and strong furniture. When buying second-hand wood furniture, especially sofas, stay away from softwoods like pine lumber. Pine is better for pieces that don’t have to withstand weight and pressure over a long period of time. Look at the types of wood when you consider buying a second-hand piece for durability.
6.) Metal furniture makes good seconds: Wrought iron or aluminum furniture is beautiful when it’s been refurbished. When you find second-hand metal furniture think of the potential as opposed to how it looks. Remove rust and repaint with a durable powder coat of outdoor paint especially made for covering metal furniture. You will be surprised how a new coat of paint will breathe life into your new find.
7.) Make sure to refinish old furniture for its new purpose: Want to take an old dresser and use it as a bathroom vanity? This idea is one of the latest trends and works beautifully especially for antique and older furniture. Make sure to refinish the wood or other dresser material in a waterproof finish. Re-purposing furniture is a great idea but you don’t want to ruin your ‘new’ found relic.
8.) Arts and crafts suggestions for masking imperfections: Have you fallen in love with a piece of second-hand furniture but it shows wear and tear on the surface? How about adding wallpaper cutouts as a form of decoupage to make a custom look? Add wallpaper, and then seal the surface with a clear sealer to the surface. The sealer will prevent the wallpaper from lifting and will deter water rings and surface marks.
9.) Shop with dimensions in hand: When shopping for second-hand furniture you need to have an idea of what space you need to fill and how large that space is. Since you aren’t shopping with a furniture catalog that has upfront dimensions and descriptions, you need to be prepared. Even if you don’t have specific dimensions, have a good idea of how much space you have to work with.
10.) Choose green painting supplies when refinishing: Opt for green varnishes and paint when refinishing a second-hand piece of furniture. Paint and varnish come in varieties that have low or no VOCs. Low VOC’s will help when preparing the furniture with little to no fumes. An added benefit will be once the piece is in your home it will be free from off-gassing.
Finding second-hand furniture can be exciting and rewarding once you get it to your home. Whether you refinish it or it is ready as-is, the money you save can be gratifying. Use these 10 tips when buying second-hand furniture and enjoy the search, it will be well worth it when you enjoy it at your home.