The Ultimate Guide to Flipping Furniture
What’s better than sitting on a comfortable couch watching movies? Getting a comfortable couch for a bargain and flipping it for profit.
You can earn loads of money by flipping furniture. Here’s how!
What is Furniture Flipping?
Flipping is a term used to describe acquiring an object of value and selling it for a profit.
Flipping is most commonly used in real estate, as it describes the process of buying and selling houses for profit. You can also flip cars, clothes, stocks, and many other types of investments.
Just as the name suggests, furniture flipping involves obtaining furniture and selling it at a marked-up price to make money. You might buy old furniture that has value as an antique. Or, you might buy wood furniture and refinish it.
Either way, your goal is the same: bringing home some extra cash.
How to Know When to Flip, Pass, or Keep?
Those who decide to enter the furniture flipping game are encouraged to develop a critical eye for detail and an ability to differentiate trash from treasure.
Here are some tips for deciding when to flip furniture and when to pass on the opportunity.
When to flip
The piece is in like-new condition
When flipping, there’s nothing better than finding a furniture piece in like-new condition either at a thrift store sale or online. Keep your eye out for bargain pieces that won’t require much work but can be resold for a higher value.
Generally speaking, the pieces that don’t require much or any work offer the best value. If you can secure a piece of furniture without putting any effort forward, that’s the way to go.
It can be repurposed
Think like an artist when looking for furniture. Certain pieces could be modified and repurposed for other uses.
You may find a fancy wooden cabinet that you can strip and repurpose as a bookcase. Or, you may find some boxes or crates that can be fastened together and given new life as a table.
In some cases, you may even be able to find scraps or junk that you can screw together and hang on the wall as the most trendy of “shabby-chic” decor.
It’s visually appealing
Some pieces of furniture just radiate beauty. Something may catch your eye when you walk by that screams “BUY ME!”
Listen to your gut (and the screaming furniture).
If you see the beauty in something, chances are another buyer will as well. And there could be small changes that you can make to enhance the beauty even further—like replacing the knobs on a chest of drawers.
When to pass
The furniture is damaged beyond repair
In some cases, furniture may be damaged or rotten to the point where you shouldn’t even touch it, let alone bring it home. As a general rule, stay away from furniture that’s been outside for a long time, smells bad, or is full of sharp objects or dangerous components.
The last thing you want when flipping furniture is to get cut on a rusted nail. And you certainly don’t want to bring home a family of critters or even—I shudder at the thought—bed bugs.
Just because a piece of furniture is functional doesn’t mean someone will want it. The furniture also has to have some level of visual appeal.
Avoid furniture that’s just plain ugly and outdated in the worst way. You don’t want to end up looking at an eyesore for months on end.
When to keep
In some cases, you may find an antique too good to flip right away—maybe an antique mirror, a solid wood bookshelf, armoire, divan, or piece of decor.
In this case, it’s better to hold onto the piece and consult with a certified antique dealer to see what you have. You may even want to enter a drawing to go on Antiques Roadshow.
Sometimes treasure can be worth more than you can get when flipping. If you think you’ve stumbled across a legitimate gem, snag it and hold on until you can get it properly appraised.
If it turns out to be junk, you can still most likely sell it. But you’ll never know if it has serious value unless you inquire.
How to Make Money Flipping Furniture
Here’s a quick checklist on how you can make money flipping furniture.
- Learn the flipping basics
- Find furniture deals
- Restore the furniture
- Sell the items
- Save, invest, and repeat!
1. Learn the flipping basics
Before you dive into the furniture market, brush up on some basic knowledge of how the market works so that you don’t go in cold.
Even though we just went over the basics of when to flip, pass, or keep, it’s important to learn the economics of flipping so that you don’t waste your time and money.
One of the best resources to start learning is a free 45-minute flipping workshop hosted by Rob and Melissa Stephenson from Flea Market Flipper.
Here are a few books you can check out as well:
Christophe Pourny is one of the best in the industry for restoring furniture. Learn all of his secrets in this can’t-miss book on flipping.
The Encyclopedia of Furniture: Third Edition – Completely Revised by Joseph Aronson
If you want to sell furniture, it pays to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the industry. And there’s no better place to start than with Joseph Aronson’s book.
Perhaps you’re looking to go from amateur to professional. If so, check out Michele Corwin’s guide to selling furniture.
2. Find furniture deals
Once you’re ready, lace up your sneakers, grab your car keys, and head out to hunt down some furniture!
You may not need to go far. Once you open your eyes and start looking for furniture to flip, you’ll notice opportunities everywhere.
Sometimes, regular homeowners have furniture that’s perfect for flipping, and they either don’t know its potential value or don’t want to take the time to restore it.
Check local community boards and websites for information on flea markets. They’re fun to walk through and often loaded with treasures.
Pawnshops are like flea markets except they’re established brick-and-mortar businesses where people bring items they no longer want for quick cash.
Check out local thrift stores regularly for deals on incoming furniture. Thrift stores and goodwill shops can be an excellent source for used furniture and household accessories.
Craigslist is one of the best websites for finding furniture. People often put items on Craigslist for free or for very low prices. You can also easily negotiate on Craigslist… but you have to act fast because competition can be fierce.
Nextdoor is a site that allows neighbors and community members to come together and exchange objects. It’s a bit safer than Craigslist because the site has a community element to it, with personal photos and user profiles.
Drive around your local college at the end of a semester and see what you can find out on the street. College students often dump their unwanted items out for bulk trash pickup. Sometimes, you can scavenge decent furniture to turn around and sell.
3. Restore the furniture you collect
Once you find a piece of furniture, spend some time restoring it to like-new condition.
If you’re a complete newbie to refurbished furniture, spend some time watching painting and carpentry how-to videos on YouTube. Trust me, it’ll help you avoid a lot of
Visit Pinterest for ideas and to find out what’s in style and desirable to buyers. You’ll want your flipped furniture to sell quick so you’re not storing it for lengthy periods of time.
What you’ll need
Here are some products you’ll want to consider picking up:
- Gorilla Glue
- Chalk paint or varnish
- Dewalt variable speed random orbital sander
- Old English furniture polish
- Wood putty
- Martha Stewart tintable fabric medium
Find a well-ventilated spot where you feel comfortable working and set up a tarp, as some projects can get very messy. Some tools, like sanders, may also be loud and could generate complaints from neighbors.
4. Sell the items
Once you have an item ready to go, your next step is to turn around and sell it.
Here are some places to do it.
If you have a handful of items to sell, consider having a yard sale. Put up some signs and sell your furniture out of your driveway or garage.
This is a fun way to meet your neighbors and make a few bucks in the process.
Just be prepared to deal with hagglers. You may value that chair you lovingly restored at $30… but someone else may only be willing to give you $15.
Whatever you do, don’t be too greedy. Otherwise, you may not make a sale.
Like Craigslist and Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace is an online market for exchanging goods. All you need is a Facebook account. My editor has personally flipped a few great pieces of painted furniture using Facebook Marketplace, and she barely knows how to use an orbital sander!
To really maximize your digital return, look into a site like eBay. People cruise eBay looking for hidden gems all the time. That being the case, you may be able to get top dollar here.
5. Save, invest, and repeat!
It’s a good idea to have a plan in place to manage your finances as the money rolls in from furniture sales.
You may want to consider forming a budget so that you don’t go overboard with spending and bite off more than you can chew. Keep a running balance of your income and expenses.
When forming a budget, determine where you want to allocate your money. For example, you may want to put the proceeds toward more furniture to flip into even bigger profits. Or maybe you’ll put the extra cash into a high-yield savings account or a retirement fund.
Just remember that you’ll have to pay taxes on whatever you make from furniture sales. You may want to talk to a tax advisor to avoid running into trouble if you plan on doing a substantial amount of furniture flipping.
Top Reasons to Flip Furniture
There are many reasons to consider flipping furniture. Here are some of the best.
Money for nothing
Money may not grow on trees, but it can be found scattered on curbs and alleyways or sitting unused in garages.
Something like an old end table or chairs may look like garbage at first. But with a little elbow grease and some Annie Sloan chalk paint, someone could get some use out of them. And you could turn a healthy profit in the process by flipping furniture for a good price without having to invest a lot of time in the makeover.
Imagine driving down the street one day and seeing an interesting old table just begging for refurbishment.
Throw it in the back of your truck, dust it off, and sell it online—you could make a decent chunk of change!
Pay down debt
If you’re buried in debt, then you have to make money wherever you can.
Selling furniture isn’t very cost or resource-intensive. If you get a table for next to nothing, you may have to spend a few hours refurbishing it. But then you can potentially sell it for a profit and put that money toward your debt.
One of the reasons people stay in debt for long periods of time is because they don’t treat it like a financial emergency. They’ll let time go by and steadily rack up more and more interest instead of going to work and doubling down on payments.
Put more money toward retirement
Planning for retirement is hard when struggling to make ends meet. If the majority of your paycheck goes toward putting food on the table, then you may need to look for alternative sources of income.
Why not sell flipped furniture?
Across your community, there are people who need places to sit and tables to put their food on. You can help them and earn some extra cash to put toward your retirement.
Work from home
Nothing’s more comfortable than making money from home. There, you can work in your own space, with your own music and amenities.
Flipping furniture may require setting up a workshop area in your garage or basement where you can sand, paint, nail, and hammer your way to financial freedom. It’s not for everyone. But it sure beats spending hours in traffic, hustling from place to place to make money. You can even save gas by having customers pick up flipped furniture at your house.
Participate in the circular economy
These days, there is a massive push to reduce carbon emissions and improve sustainability. One way to take part in the fight for the planet is to participate in the circular economy.
You could potentially help consumers avoid buying new products and instead get by with things that have already been made and are still in perfectly good condition.
Flipping furniture may seem like a small step. But if everyone bought used instead of new, the planet would be much better off.
Believe it or not, furniture flipping can be a lot of fun! Work, yes… but also fun! You’ll learn all about furniture in the process, and it will require getting acquainted with various types of woods and stains and understanding how fabrics should be treated and repaired.
By flipping furniture, you can become an expert in home decor and carpentry—someone other people turn to for advice. And you don’t even have to spend years honing your skills. Watching a few tutorials on YouTube can mean all the difference in the world.
Can You Make Money Flipping Furniture?
It largely depends on the type of furniture you’re flipping.
Some people prefer to only flip antiques. They may take a 60- or 70-year-old table and return it to like-new condition. This could potentially generate a profit if sold online or to an antique dealer or flea market flipper.
The other approach is to fix and flip any random furniture, which can be trickier. The general rule is to never spend more time and effort on a piece than you can get in return.
If you spend $50 on a table and put two or three hours of work into it, you’d better get at least double that price when you sell it or it just won’t be worth the effort. Return on investment is the name of the game, flippers!
One way to make money flipping furniture is to take a piece and make it entirely your own. You can take a regular coffee table and add a layer of resin with seashells or stones embedded in it. Doing so could turn a regular table into a functional piece of art that someone just has to have in their home.
As you move forward with furniture flipping and get more confident using tools, it’s possible to get more creative. And that’s when the fun starts!
Tips for Restoring Furniture
Furniture flipping isn’t always rosy. Truth be told, this trade can be downright difficult at times.
Here are some things to consider before getting started.
Watch out for bed bugs
Bringing used furniture into your house can be very risky due to insects. Bed bugs can live in upholstery and crawl into your personal space.
Be very careful about bringing used fabrics into your house. Otherwise, you could wind up with a devastating infestation and need to burn your entire house down to get rid of it. (Kidding. Mostly.)
Check the return on investment
It’s all about knowing when to walk away from an investment. Just because a piece of furniture is of good quality doesn’t mean you’ll be able to sell it.
Do some research ahead of time so that you avoid buying items you can’t turn around and sell easily.
Storage can be a problem
Some people flip furniture as a side hustle. Then, there are those who decide to flip furniture at scale and often run into storage problems—especially if the business takes off.
What starts off as a home project can quickly turn into a bigger ordeal requiring more space. You may need to rent a storefront or storage unit just to peddle your wares.
Frequently Asked Questions
What skills do you need to flip furniture?
Making it as a furniture flipper requires a working knowledge of many different skills, like sanding, refinishing, painting furniture, pricing, reselling, and identifying quality pieces.
You also have to know different types of furniture and be able to communicate with potential buyers.
Can old pieces of furniture generate profits?
Old pieces can be great to sell. Oftentimes, buyers purchase old secondhand items and sell them for big profits just because they’re vintage or antique.
At the end of the day, it largely depends on the quality of the piece and the type. For instance, real wood furniture will most likely sell for more than the fake stuff.
Should I sell items on social media?
Certain channels are better than others for selling furniture.
A site like Facebook or OfferUp can help connect you with local buyers. Instagram can also be a fun and easy way to connect with buyers. Etsy and eBay are other social channels that may open the door to sales.
The Bottom Line
So you’re interested in becoming a furniture flipper. Good news: Now is the best time to get started!
It doesn’t take much to flip your first piece of furniture. And who knows? After a while, this could prove to be a great way to improve your personal finances.
Just remember to be smart about what you buy and take into your house to avoid running into complications. It’s also a good idea to practice refurbishing furniture on items like scrap wood or fabrics so you don’t accidentally damage an item when restoring it.
You may find that you’re a natural and start a lucrative flipping business. But you won’t know until you try. Some people start out as hobbyists and quickly learn they can make a full-time income with this fun and engaging activity.
Of course, there are many other things you can flip for a profit. Furniture is just the beginning! You may start with furniture and decide you like it so much that you move on to real estate.
Whatever you decide, I’ll be rooting for you as you move down the path to financial independence.