Restoring furniture can be a fun project and can save you a lot of money. If you’ve ever shopped for new furniture, then you may have experienced some sticker shock. Even lower-quality pieces can be very expensive. Finding older furniture and restoring it is a budget-friendly option to furnishing your space.
New Furniture Cost
Of course, it depends on what you are buying, but expect to pay somewhere in the thousands to furnish a bedroom or living room. A lot of people turn to finance to pay for furniture due to the high price tag. This can be a bad financial move if it takes you several years to pay off the loan. You may have reached the furniture’s end of useful life by the time you pay it off. This is especially true if your furniture gets a lot of wear and tear.
Assuming that depreciation of furniture is around 20% a year, then in 5 years your furniture is basically worthless on the market should you try to sell it. You may have an exception if you paid for very high-quality handcrafted furniture, but the average piece from a big box store won’t fetch much when used.
As you saw above, buying used furniture is usually affordable. A new piece that sold for $1000 might only be worth a couple of hundred dollars after 5 years or so. Buying used can save you money but restoring furniture can add even more value.
Look for furniture that is generally made of solid wood. Low-end furniture made of particle board usually isn’t good for restoring. They are impossible to sand or stain. Once you find what you are looking for you can size up what needs to be done and if it is worth doing.
The final step is to make an offer and buy it. I have used sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to find furniture for sale by private parties.
A Real-World Example
I recently acquired a coffee table and two end tables. They were free, so this is an extreme example, but even if I had to pay for them the price would have been minimal. The tables are solid wood but of middle-of-the-road quality. I’d guess that the set may have been a few hundred dollars when they were new. They had typical wear to them. Water rings and wearing off the finish were present on them.
These make perfect pieces for restoration. Most of the damage was cosmetic, and the wood surfaces and legs were in good shape. I sanded down the tables with an electric palm sander, gave them a new coat of stain, and finally a coat of poly. Total money invested was less than $20. The time was a few evenings.
I intend to keep the tables, but I could have flipped them and probably made around $50. If you have the time, then this could be a decent side gig for you. Even if you aren’t trying to turn a profit this is still a great way to save some money. Doing these little projects can also be enjoyable.
Restoring furniture can be a great way to save some money. Furniture depreciates quickly, and most lower quality pieces don’t last more than a few years to a decade. If you have an eye for finding slightly used furniture, then you can pick up a quality piece for a good deal and put a little work into it. The result will be a brand-new-looking piece of furniture for a fraction of the cost.
Writer and Investor. Based in the Pittsburgh, PA area, Brian holds full-time employment as a Warehouse Manager for an electronics firm. Brian enjoys wealth building, investing, gardening and the great outdoors. Brian holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.