Flipping furniture involves buying used or discounted furniture, refurbishing and reselling for a profit. With some skill and knowledge, flipping furniture can be a fun and lucrative side business. This comprehensive guide covers the basics of getting started in furniture flipping as a beginner.
Table of Contents
Overview of Furniture Flipping
Furniture flipping involves finding used, damaged, or discarded furniture, carrying out renovations or repairs, then reselling at a markup for profit. Some key points:
- Source inexpensive furniture from thrift stores, auctions, classifieds etc. Look for solid wood pieces.
- Refurbish through repairs, cosmetic improvements like painting or staining, reupholstering.
- List refinished pieces for sale on platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp.
- Focus on sought-after styles, brands, and vintage or antique pieces.
- Profits come from buying low and adding value through upgrades.
Flipping works best with smaller furniture pieces that are relatively easy to transport, store, and sell. With some experience, it can become a substantial income stream.
Is Flipping Furniture Profitable?
Furniture flipping can be quite lucrative. Typical profit margins range from 30% to 100% or more. Factors impacting profitability include:
- Purchase price – Finding deals is crucial. Source cheap, buy low.
- Type of furniture – Smaller pieces like chairs, tables, cabinets are easier to work with.
- Refurbishing costs – Keep material and labor costs low.
- Resell venue – Local sales channels allow higher prices over online platforms.
- Quality and style – Better construction, brand names, and trends increase value.
With wise sourcing and efficient refinishing processes, furniture flippers can consistently hit great profit margins. Let’s break down the steps next.
How to Start Flipping Furniture Step-by-Step
Here is an overview of the furniture flipping process from start to finish:
1. Source Inexpensive Furniture
Find used, vintage, or discounted furniture through thrift stores, garage sales, liquidations, auctions, classifieds.
2. Inspect and Evaluate Condition
Assess repairs needed and refinishing potential. Reject pieces requiring excessive repairs.
3. Purchase and Transport Home
Have your vehicle and help ready to safely load and securely transport purchases.
4. Clean and Repair Furniture
Do any needed structural repairs. Clean dirt and grime. Remove odors.
5. Refinish Furniture
Apply cosmetic improvements like sanding, painting, staining, reupholstering.
6. List and Sell Furniture
Create listings with photos and descriptions highlighting upgrades. List on sales platforms.
7. Pocket the Profit!
Cover costs, keep inventory moving. Scale up over time as skills improve.
We’ll explore these steps in detail throughout this guide. Let’s start with identifying sources for furniture to flip.
Where to Source Furniture for Flipping
Sourcing furniture at the lowest cost is crucial for maximum flipping profit. Look for undervalued pieces in these places:
Garage and Yard Sales
People often sell quality used furniture for cheap to clear space. Ask about additional items not set out yet.
Thrift and Consignment Stores
Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, and local thrift shops get frequent furniture turnover. Visit often for new inventory.
Estate and Garage Sales
Estate sales after deaths may have high-quality furnishings priced for quick sale. Listings on estatesales.net.
Craigslist & Facebook Marketplace
People list free or inexpensive furniture just to have it removed. Act fast on good listings.
Try auction sites like eBay, storage unit auctions, or local police property auctions.
Specialty liquidation companies get surplus furniture from retailers, hotels, offices. May get for pennies on the dollar.
Some trash collection days have bulk or furniture pickup – cruise neighborhood routes and grab discarded gems.
With consistent sourcing, you’ll get a feel for the best spots and negotiation tactics. Now let’s discuss evaluating potential pieces.
How to Evaluate Furniture for Flipping
When sourcing furniture, carefully inspect condition, quality and repairs needed with an eye for value adding potential:
- Check for damage – scratches, chips, peeling, water stains, pet damage. Assess if reasonably repairable.
- Test drawers, doors, switches – should operate smoothly. Fixing mechanisms is advanced.
- Evaluate structure – solid wood is best, particle board is lowest quality. Plywood and MDF are in between.
- Assess finishes – nice wood under worn or dated finishes presents opportunity.
- Consider style and trends – some styles like midcentury modern and industrial are hot.
- Research brands – quality brands in good shape are worth investing in.
- Determine costs – factor in price to acquire, estimated materials for repairs and refinishing, expected profit.
Carefully sorting through lots of furniture to identify the quality wood pieces with potential takes some patience but it is a crucial step.
Essential Tools for Flipping Furniture
Flipping furniture doesn’t require a woodshop full of tools. Here are some essentials:
- Truck or Van – For picking up large items. Get ramps or lift gate for loading.
- Hand Tools – Hammers, pry bars, staple pullers for minor repairs.
- Sanders – Both handheld and orbital for refinishing. 80, 150, 220 grit paper.
- Paint Supplies – Paintbrushes, rollers, trays, tarps. Stock neutral colors.
- Cleaning Supplies – Microfiber cloths, cleaning spray, steel wool, solvents.
- Cordless Drill – For installing hardware and making repairs. Have drill bits and drivers.
- Work Table – Folding tables for working on pieces. Sawhorses also helpful.
Begin with basic tools for minor repairs and painting/finishing. Outsource or advance into power tools as skills grow. Safety first!
Fixing and Repairs for Furniture Flips
Learn to make minor repairs to bring pieces back to usable shape:
- Tighten loose joints and glue wobbly legs using wood glue. Clamps and corner braces add support.
- Fix broken or loose slats in chair seats. Replace if too far gone.
- Patch holes with wood filler. Let dry fully before sanding smooth.
- Replace missing hardware like knobs, hinges, drawer glides and slides. Upgrade to modern hardware.
- Reglue any lifted veneer. Clamp until dry and weighed down. Be careful not to over-wet.
- Remove stains by sanding and bleaching. Repair water rings and warping if not too severe.
Focus on affordable fixes that improve functionality for a reasonable cost. Be selective about repairs with furniture too far gone.
Refinishing Techniques for Furniture Flips
Here are some common refinishing techniques to elevate the look and value of furniture:
Paint outdated oak or damaged pieces using spray paint or latex based paint for starters. Consider two-tone finishes.
Sand and Stain
Lightly sand to remove top layer and imperfections. Apply gel stains for an updated wood finish. Polyurethane for protection.
Refinish Existing Wood
Strip old finish using chemical strippers or sanding. Stain or oil to accentuate wood grain.
Reupholster or replace worn cushions or seats with foam and quality fabrics.
No sanding or stripping needed. Popular technique for shabby chic, cottage, vintage looks using chalk paint.
Use wallpaper or contact paper to cover drawer fronts, tabletops, cabinet surfaces. Quick update.
Start simple with things like paint and handle replacements. Advance into more skilled refinishing approaches over time.
What Furniture Flips Well?
Focus your efforts on these types of furniture flips:
- Small tables – Coffee, end, accent tables. Easy to store, work on and sell.
- Cabinets & Chests – Cabinets, dressers, nightstands. Versatile and sought after.
- Desks – Vintage desk styles like secretary and apothecary. Update with paint and hardware.
- Chairs – Armchairs, dining chairs are fairly easy fixes. Reupholstering adds value.
- Shelves – Uncomplicated structure.Paint built-ins to match decor.
- Headboards/Footboards – Sand and restain or paint. Pair with new bedframe.
Stick to simpler construction and styles as a beginner furniture flipper. As your skills progress, take on more complex pieces.
Estimate Costs of Refurbishing
To determine profitability, estimate costs to acquire the furniture and refurbish:
- Purchase price
- Expected refinishing costs:
- Sandpaper, paint, stain
- New hinges, handles, glides
- Fabrics, foam for reupholstering
- Equipment rentals
- Outsourced repairs
- Transportation costs
- Your time (be honest!)
Weigh total costs against expected flipped value and profit. Be selective to avoid money-losing projects.
How to Determine Selling Price
Price furniture flips based on these considerations:
- Research listing prices for comparable refinished pieces in your area
- Factor in your total costs to acquire and refurbish
- The quality of materials, construction and your upgrades
- Overall style and trends – midcentury, industrial and retro styles command higher prices
- Brand recognition of quality names like Restoration Hardware, Ethan Allen
- Where you are selling – local buyers will pay more than online
- How quickly you want to sell – higher prices but slower sales vs discounted for quick flips
Take quality photos to showcase your refurbishing. Price higher initially, then reduce if needed.
Where to Sell Refinished Furniture
You have several options to sell your flipped furniture locally:
List in your city’s Craigslist furniture section. Include quality photos showing improvements. Be prepared to handle pickups.
Facebook’s sales feature has massive reach. Create eye-catching listings showcasing makeovers.
Popular app for local buyers and sellers. Lists quickly with mobile photos. Coordinate meetups for pickup.
Hyperlocal app connects with neighbors. Post available pieces in the for sale and free section.
Add flips alongside other items at your regular neighborhood garage sales. Draws traffic.
Some consignment stores sell refurbished furniture on commission around 50%. Worth considering for higher-end pieces.
If scaling up, rent a short-term space to hold an estate sale featuring your flips.
Start locally where you can meet buyers and handle delivery. Expand to online platforms when comfortable shipping.
Scaling Your Furniture Flipping Business
As your furniture flipping skills improve, look at ways to scale up:
- Expand types of furniture – Take on more varied projects with higher profits
- Streamline process – Organize workspace and create process checklists to increase efficiency
- Rent workspace – Find inexpensive shared shop space as needed for more room
- Increase sourcing – Hit auctions, stores, listings more frequently to find more inventory.
- Manage pricing – Use software to dynamically reprrice listings across platforms as needed
- Hire help – Outsource heavy prep work, repairs, pickups/drop-offs
- Sell online – Open Etsy, eBay shops to sell nationwide. Factor shipping costs.
- Increase quality – Upgrade tools and develop skills to take on higher-end flips
Work towards making furniture flipping a structured business with regular inventory and consistent workflows.
Tips for Beginner Furniture Flippers
Here are some key tips to get started successfully flipping furniture:
- Start small with cheap/free “learner” pieces to build skills
- Only buy solid wood furniture, not particle board or cheap materials
- Focus on quick cosmetic fixes like paint,sanding versus structural repairs at first
- Source desirable but inexpensive styles – midcentury, industrial, retro
- Don’t invest too much in a piece you can’t sell for at least double your costs
- Have helpers for pickup/delivery as large furniture can be unwieldy
- List flips for sale locally – lower shipping cost, higher prices
- Reinvest profits into better tools and materials as you progress
- Keep an inventory spreadsheet to track costs on each project
- Be patient – it takes time to build experience and a customer base
Take it slowly at first, learn as you go along, and steadily build up skills, inventory and profits.
Pros and Cons of Flipping Furniture for Beginners
- Fairly low startup costs
- Ability to start as a side business
- Satisfaction of learning hands-on skills
- Wide sourcing options for used inventory
- Items can be sold locally – saving shipping
- Lower overhead than a retail store
- Manual labor intensive
- Need transportation for large items
- Storing inventory can take up space
- Learning curve on refurbishing skills
- Local selling limits audience at first
- Risk of flipping items that don’t sell
Weigh if the pros of a flexible small business outweigh the effort and learning curve required.
Frequently Asked Questions About Flipping Furniture
What sells best when flipping furniture? Midcentury, vintage, industrial styles are most sought after. Also small functional pieces like side tables, chests, desks and bookcases.
Do you need to refinish purchased furniture or can you resell as is? Some furniture in excellent vintage condition can be resold as-is. But most pieces need light upgrades through painting, staining or reupholstering to maximize profits.
What are the best places to look for used furniture to flip? Thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, estate sales, Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace. Go frequently and get to know when they restock and discount.
Is furniture flipping better suited as a side hustle or full time business? Furniture flipping can work as a side gig when starting out. Over time if profits are high enough, it can turn into a full time small business.
How much does it cost to start flipping furniture? Startup costs are under $500 for basic tools, supplies and sourcing budget. As you scale, invest more in equipment and workspace. Expect $2,000+ for larger operation.
Is flipping furniture profitable long term? Yes, furniture flipping can be very profitable over the long run. Costs stay relatively low while markup on refinishing and styles in demand provide high profit potential. Key is buying low and scaling volume.
Bottom Line on Flipping Furniture
The essentials for getting started flipping furniture:
- Source inexpensive, solid wood furniture from thrift stores, classifieds etc
- Repair structural issues and refinish through painting, staining, upholstery
- List locally on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp
- Focus on quick flips of popular styles at first while building skills
- Reinvest profits into better tools and materials
- Expand to higher-end pieces and more platforms as you grow
With some initial education and practice, flipping furniture can become a nice profitable side business fairly quickly. Use this guide to start out strong!