restoring secondhand furniture

Shopping for Secondhand Furniture? Here’s How to Tell It’s a Quality Piece.

Secondhand shops have become more popular in the past year. In fact, trade forums indicate that many furniture restoration services like Furniture Werks are experiencing a higher demand. It is not unusual for a customer to thrift furniture at a secondhand shop, then have us pick it up for restoration. This past year has seen a big upturn in furniture restoration, especially reupholstery and refinishing. Why? Hopefully it’s because these customers have seen the value of long-lasting restoration over a less costly but lower quality new purchase.

Where Should You Start?

When it comes to thrifting furniture, where do you go to find worthy pieces of restoration? As with most things, there are pieces that are not wanted and end up for sale at auctions, garage and estate sales, and various repurposing stores, including antique malls. The first place, to get an idea of what to look for, is our “Before and After” to see what people are restoring for their own use. Next, you can browse the antique malls and secondhand shops to get a “feel” for the furniture. Usually, but not always, intricate and detailed pieces signify a strong frame or base. Most of the low-cost furniture you see in stores today will not be the style you will be seeking for restoration.

What Do You Look For In Chairs?

So, how can you tell which secondhand furniture will withstand the test of time? When it comes to lounge chairs or sofas, you should feel the bottom. Old frames are thick, maybe an inch or so, around the base with webbing across the bottom to support the springs. The condition of the upholstery is no concern because with a solid frame, we can update the fabric easily. If you see a piece you like but the upholstery is “ratty”, you should be able to purchase it for a very low cost. Even with worn padding or stained fabric, our expert craftsmen will remove the excess material, down to the bare frame, and then, rebuild with new padding and fabric. So you shouldn’t worry too much about how it looks but rather how it “feels”.

How About Wood Furniture?

With a variety of wood furniture, we can refinish tables, chairs, dressers and chests by repairing wear and tear damages. When you’re looking at dressers and chests, it’s best to view the drawers first, pulling one out and turning it over. The wood sides of the drawers on wood chest runners is a good indication of a well-made piece. Ball bearing slides on runners, except for large desks, usually indicate a lower quality construction. The slides are used in order to compensate for the lower quality.

Next Step, Restoring Your Secondhand Furniture.

When thrifting furniture, you should spend some time looking at the various pieces at shops and malls to get a better understanding of what is on the market before deciding to purchase. The frames on chairs and the drawers in dressers are good signs of whether or not you should take the piece of furniture home. If you have already found a piece, whether it is a table or a chair, we will gladly breathe new life into your secondhand furniture for generations to come.

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