6 tips for buying used furniture

Some people tend to shy away from used furniture because of the “what ifs.” 

What if this pattern won’t work with my current decor? What if the previous owner had pets that loved this piece of furniture a little too much? What if this sofa has bed bugs?

Luckily, these “what ifs,” can be answered pretty quickly with just a little inspection. And the best part is, once you get past the “what ifs,” you’ll usually see the piece of furniture is a diamond in the rough.

Keep these six handy tips in mind next time a piece of furniture catches your eye at your nearest Habitat  ReStore!


1. Check for a brand name

The items you’ll find at a ReStore are mostly gently used (although some are new), and if you keep an eye out, you may even find items with the tags still attached! The best thing to do when you find a piece of used furniture that catches your eye is to check for a brand name you recognize. If it bears the name of any well-known, high-quality brands, you’ve found yourself a treasure. If you can’t find a brand name or logo on the piece, fear not! There are many other ways to make sure you’ve found a great piece.

 2. Look for quality indicators

The old saying, “You get what you pay for,” may be true with new furniture, but the gems you can find at ReStores are all very reasonably priced. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check for signs of high-quality furniture as opposed to the number listed on the price tag. Some good indicators of a high-quality item are dovetailed joints, solid wood, properly tucked upholstery, and a sturdy frame. If you find even one of these qualities, it’s a safe bet this piece of furniture has some potential.

3. Give it a test run

Potential is one thing, but remember, the chair you’re eyeing may be the comfiest piece of furniture in existence, or worse than sitting on a pile of rocks. Take a seat and test it out before you get too excited. And, if you feel any sagging, be sure to check the supports, springs, and filling for any damage. If you find any defects, you may need to think about refurbishing the piece.


4. Think about what it will take to refurbish the piece

Home improvement and DIY shows make refurbishing furniture look easy, but that’s because there’s usually a team full of experts with years of experience just beyond the camera. However, if you truly love that sofa or coffee table you found at your Denver Metro ReStore, there are a few simple fixes you can try before tackling any tricky projects. First and foremost, merely cleaning the piece can make a world of difference. Here are some furniture cleaning tips to help you get started:

  • Make sure to use a cleaner that’s safe won’t damage the furniture. Read labels carefully to determine whether it’s safe to use on your furniture, and closely follow directions for best results. Don’t forget to spot check your cleaner on a small, non-visible area before applying it to the whole piece. If you see any new stains or discoloration after the cleaner has completely dried, do not use it to clean the rest of the piece.
  • When it comes to wood furniture, go with the grain when cleaning. It’s better to do it that way because particles won’t become ingrained in the cracks and crevices.
  • If any of the used furniture you find has a slight smell, this is most likely due to the previous owner’s storage of the piece. Don’t let this deter you! Often, you can simply air it outside for an hour or two on a clear, sunny day. You could also opt to put cedar blocks or charcoal bricks somewhere in the furniture to absorb the odor. If you suspect the odor was from a pet, there are many special cleaners designed to break down the proteins that produce these smells, and ultimately eliminate the odor.

A deep cleaning can help you make the most of used furniture. However, if you suspect your piece is beyond the help of these furniture cleaning tips, you may opt to try your hand at DIY reupholstering or hire a local craftsman to help you. This is ideal for furniture that isn’t the right color, or that needs more than a few touch ups.

Whatever option you choose to restore your furniture, make sure to consider how this fits into your schedule and budget.

5. Compare prices online

ReStore prices are incredibly reasonable, but sometimes you just need the peace of mind of knowing you’re getting a bargain. It’s never been easier to compare prices online than it is today. Try to find a comparable piece of furniture and check several different sources for prices. Some pieces you’ll find at ReStore will be one-of-a-kind treasures, but every purchase is valuable in one additional way.

Remember, all profits from ReStore sales support Habitat for Humanity’s mission to provide affordable housing for low-income families.

6. Consider how much your patronage means to your local ReStore

Before you shop at Goodwill, The Arc, or other secondhand stores, remember the real impact you’ll have at your local ReStore. The ReStores depend on savvy shoppers like you to continue our mission. Your purchase will help keep used furniture out of landfills, and will also provide funding for future Habitat projects. And, while you’re at it, why not give back a little too? Consider making some room for that new treasure you found by donating your own gently used furniture to your local Habitat ReStore.

If you’re still wondering how to get the most out of used furniture, stop on by your local ReStore. This article was written by the Habitat Denver ReStores, click this link to find your local Habitat Denver ReStore or if you’re elsewhere in the country click here to find your local ReStore. Our friendly staff and volunteers will be happy to further show you how to make the most of used furniture and help you find your own treasure.