How to Shop for Used Furniture That Will Last

Purchasing used furniture is a great way to save money, but sometimes it can be difficult to determine if the furniture found in second-hand stores will last. There are a few simple steps buyers can take to ensure each piece of furniture will hold up to everyday use. Consider these four factors when shopping for furniture at second-hand stores.

Understand the Wood Types

examples of used furniture

When shopping for used furniture, it’s important to understand the different types of wood construction used in furniture making. There are typically three types of wood used in furniture: composite wood, veneers, and solid wood.

Composite wood, which is also known as particle board, is the cheapest way to construct wood furniture. Composite wood is made of a combination of resin, plastic, and wood pulp. Since furniture made of composite wood is usually constructed using scraps, it will likely cost less than other wood-constructed furniture. And it typically won’t last long once you get it into your home.

Furniture made of veneers is a step above composite wood furniture. Veneers are constructed with an inexpensive wood base, which is then covered by layers of higher-quality wood. Furniture constructed using veneers are a great option for budget shoppers who are hoping to purchase higher quality wood furniture without the high price tag of solid wood pieces.

Solid wood furniture is often heavier and more well-constructed than furniture made of veneers, but it can also be more expensive. While solid wood furniture is a great option when searching for second-hand pieces, there are a few drawbacks to buying furniture constructed of solid wood. Wood furniture is often more susceptible to damage, like scratches and water rings.

Check Joints and Openings

Higher quality furniture made to last will use higher quality building tactics. The first sign of a higher quality wood piece is furniture constructed using wood joinery, which means the wood is joined at its ends and corners and not glued or nailed. Furniture using wood joinery is sturdier than pieces using glue or nails in their construction. The most popular wood joinery options are dovetail (square teeth that interlock) or mortise-and-tenon (a narrow-ended piece inserted into a hole in another piece).

It’s also important to check all openings, like drawers and cabinet doors, when evaluating a piece of used furniture. Drawers of high-quality pieces will open and close with ease, in addition to pulling out all the way and closing evenly. Additionally, cabinet doors should remain in an open position on their own and should shut evenly when closed.

Upholstered Furniture Construction

sofa and end table

There are a variety of important areas to inspect when evaluating a piece of upholstered furniture. First, take a look at the cushions to determine if their construction will last the test of time. Couches or chairs with removable cushions will allow you to look inside to determine their quality. High-quality cushions are typically made of a block of dense foam wrapped in a layer of cotton. Cushions constructed of only foam are less durable. You should also look inside removable back cushions. High-quality back cushions are usually constructed of wrapped foam or loose fill inside internal compartments to prevent the fill from settling.

In larger pieces of upholstered furniture, like a couch or loveseat, inspecting the support system is essential. Start by looking at the sofa’s frame. A high-quality sofa frame will be made of hardwood and constructed using both dowels and screws for extra stability. Corners should also be reinforced using blocks for additional support.

Continue your inspection by looking at the couch’s seating support. The best support system is the eight-way hand tied springs system, which uses twine to connect each spring together inside the sofa. Sinuous spring construction, in which the springs form an S shape from the front of the seat to the back, is another strong support system.

Make Sure You Transport Your Furniture with Care

car moving a sofa

Purchasing high-quality furniture will do you no good if you don’t safely transport it home. While transporting your new furniture using a trailer or truck is the preferred method, used furniture buyers with cars can safely transport their new purchases with a little planning. Furniture can be safely secured to the top of a car if you don’t plan to travel far with your new purchase. 

Start by covering the roof of your car with blankets to protect the finish. Choose a rough, old blanket to keep the furniture from slipping as it rests on top of the car. Then, secure the furniture using strong rope and ratchet straps to ensure the furniture is bound tightly to the top of your car. To safely use rope to secure your furniture to the top of your car, you will need to tie several knots in the rope and use several ropes along the length of the piece of furniture. Buyers in Olympia also know it’s important to cover the furniture with plastic to protect it from the elements, like rain or snow. Finally, be sure to drive slowly and avoid highway travel, if possible. Choosing and transporting a high-quality piece of furniture may take some time and attention. But the extra effort will be worth it when you have a beautiful new piece of furniture in your home that is sure to last a lifetime.

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