11 Essential Tips For Buying Used Furniture

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: March 30, 2022

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When you’re looking for furniture, whether it’s for your home or office, buying used can be a great option.

For one, you can save yourself quite a bit of money. And two, you can often find high-quality pieces that are in great condition.

But before you start shopping or searching the web, there are a few things you need to know.

With that in mind, here are our 7 essential tips for buying used furniture:

1. Always Inspect The Piece Thoroughly Before Buying

Look for any damage or signs of wear and tear, and make sure you’re happy with the condition of the piece.

Look for things like chipping paint, cracks, stripped screws, ripped upholstery, and anything else that looks a little questionable. I know it might be awkward to inspect a piece of used furniture this thoroughly, but in the long run, this can save you a lot of headaches.

Inspect the structure of the piece to make sure it’s still sturdy and won’t fall apart on you.

Also, you should make sure all the drawers and doors work correctly.

This is super important whenever you’re looking at dressers, cabinets, or any other type of storage furniture.

Make sure all the doors open and close properly, and that all the drawers slide smoothly.

11 essential tips for buying used furniture | Be The Budget

2. Check Your Measurements

It’s important to make sure the furniture will fit in the space you have designated for it.

Therefore, whenever you buy used furniture (or new furniture, for that matter), measure the space and compare it to the measurements of the furniture you’re considering buying.

As an added note, you should measure any doors or hallways it will need to pass through before reaching its final destination.

This is especially important if you’re looking at larger pieces like couches, tables, desks, bed frames, or large appliances (i.e. a washer, dryer, or refrigerator).

Put simply, you don’t want to buy something that’s too big for your space.

Trust me when I tell you, this is not a lesson you want to learn the hard way.

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3. Set And Stick To Your Budget

Before you start shopping, it’s important to set a limit on how much you’re willing to spend. This way, you can narrow down your options and avoid hurting your financial situation.

Whether you’re searching for used furniture on Craigslist, Facebook, or hitting up the local thrift stores in your area, setting a clearly-defined budget is essential.

Just remember, it can be easy to get carried away when you see a great piece of furniture. So, throughout the process, try to keep your emotions in check and remember what you’re working with financially.

4. Take Note Of The Piece’s Age

Just like anything else, furniture has a lifespan. And while some pieces may last longer than others, it’s important to be aware of the age of the furniture you’re considering buying.

This is especially important if you’re looking at antique furniture or pieces that are more than 10-15 years old.

If the furniture is too old, it may not be as sturdy as you need it to be, and it may also require more maintenance.

On the other hand, if the furniture is too new, you may not be able to find it at a reasonable price.

So, try to find something that’s in that Goldilocks zone – not too old, not too new.

5. Ask Questions Before Buying

Whenever you buy used furniture, it’s important to ask the seller as many questions as possible.

This will help you get a better understanding of the piece and its condition.

Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • How old is the furniture?
  • Where was it originally purchased?
  • What kind of wear and tear has it seen?
  • Has it been in a home with cats or dogs?
  • Has it been in a home with somebody that smokes?
  • How long has it been sitting in storage?

The more questions you can ask on the front end, the better.

Remember, questions are free, so ask as many questions as you need to ask.

6. Check For Signs Of Pests

This is another important step in the process, especially if you’re buying used furniture from an unknown source.

Pests like bedbugs and cockroaches love to hide in furniture, so it’s important to inspect the piece thoroughly before bringing it into your home.

Some signs of pests include:

  • Small brown or red stains on the fabric
  • Scratching noises coming from inside the furniture
  • Foul smells coming from inside the furniture

These are just a few signs that pests might be (or once were) present, so make sure to inspect the piece carefully before making your purchase.

7. Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate

Finally, don’t be afraid to negotiate when you’re buying used furniture.

Many sellers are open to negotiating on the price, especially if they’re motivated to sell the piece.

So, don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price. As my dad always says, “you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

Just remember, the key is to be polite and respectful throughout the process.

8) Consider The Construction

Just because a piece of furniture is used doesn’t mean it’s automatically lower quality. In fact, the materials and construction of old furniture are oftentimes higher-quality than the new furniture you’d be likely to buy these days.

So, when you’re shopping for used furniture, be sure to consider the quality of the piece.

Some things you may want to look for include:

  • Solid wood construction – Solid wood is much more durable than particle board, and is likely to last a lot longer.
  • Dovetail Joinery – This is a type of woodworking joint that’s often found in high-quality furniture. It involves joining two pieces of wood together with small, angled pins (that look like the tail of a dove), which creates a very sturdy joint. You’re most likely to find dovetail joints in drawer construction. So, if during your inspection, you see these dovetail joints, it’s a good bet that the rest of the piece is well-constructed.
  • Full-Extension Drawer Slides – Extension drawer slides tend to last a lot longer than cheap roller drawer slides, and are usually much smoother to operate. Extension drawer slides are the same kind of slides used on high-end kitchen cabinetry.

9) Make Sure All Parts And Pieces Are Included

Before you buy used furniture, it’s important to make sure that all of the parts and pieces are included.

This means checking for things like screws, bolts, washers, and other small pieces that may come with the furniture.

If anything is missing, you may have to purchase them separately, which might not be worth the effort. Then again, if there are any easily-replaceable parts, you might be able to negotiate the price down a little bit more.

10) Have The Furniture Inspected By A Professional

If you’re purchasing a more expensive piece of used furniture, it’s always a good idea to have it inspected by a professional.

I’m talking about things like antiques, or even a used piano (yes, I realize that a piano is an instrument, not furniture).

Basically, if you’re going to be dropping a few hundred, or maybe even a few thousand dollars on a piece of used furniture, then the cost of a professional inspection can be well worth the money.

Many times, they’ll be able to tell you whether or not the furniture is structurally sound and if there are any major repairs, for which you’ll need to foot the bill.

Bottom line: a professional inspection can help you avoid any costly surprises down the road.

11) Be Patient

Finally, the most important tip I can give you is to be patient.

The process of finding and buying used furniture can take some time, but it’s important not to rush into anything.

If you take your time and follow these tips, you should be able to find a great piece of used furniture that will last you for years to come.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, buying used furniture can be a great way to save yourself some money and get your hands on some unique pieces. Just make sure to follow these 11 essential tips:

1. Do Your Research

2. Inspect The Furniture Thoroughly

3. Ask Questions

4. Check For Signs Of Damage

5. Consider The Condition Of The Furniture

6. Check For Signs Of Pests

7. Negotiate The Price

8. Assess The Construction Quality

9. Make Sure All Parts And Pieces Are Included

10. Have The Furniture Inspected By A Professional

11. Be Patient

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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