10 rules to follow when buying used furniture
Furniture is one of the best things to buy used, but that’s only true when you choose the right pieces. Taking the time to choose high-quality furniture in good condition can help you furnish your home without spending too much money. However, if you don’t pay close attention to some key considerations, the second-hand furniture you choose may turn out to be a waste of money or, even worse, a health or safety hazard.
Read on to identify the most important things to keep in mind when shopping for used furniture.
1. Don’t buy used mattresses.
Mattresses are one of the worst things to buy used. While it may be tempting to buy a used mattress instead of spending a lot more on a new mattress, the savings just aren’t worth it. Mattresses can absorb odors, stains and even hazardous substances. After all, you don’t know anything about the people who slept on the mattress before you sold it. Buying used bedding also increases the risk of introducing mold, bedbugs, and dust mites into your home. Although used mattresses are not a good idea for anyone, especially avoid them when choosing a crib mattress.
2. Avoid smelly furniture.
A foul smell should also rule out second-hand furniture. Furniture, especially upholstered pieces, can absorb odors from smoke, pets, urine, cooking, etc. Once they’re in the fabric, these odors can be very difficult to get rid of. In fact, if you bring smelly furniture into your home, the smell could be absorbed by other furniture in the space. This is just one of the reasons local thrift stores don’t want donations of these types of items.
3. Check for signs of structural damage.
Before buying used furniture, it’s important to carefully inspect each piece for any signs of major damage. While you can easily touch up or repair cosmetic imperfections, structural damage will be more difficult and expensive to repair. When inspecting the piece, look for cracks, broken legs or supports, and signs of previous repairs. Finding one of these is a warning sign that the piece of furniture may not be structurally sound. If you’re looking at chairs or sofas, sit on them and listen for any rattling or creaking noises that could indicate a problem.
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4. Check that all parts are present.
It is also important to confirm that none of the parts are missing. For example, if you are buying a dresser set, check that all drawers, drawer pulls, mirror and hardware are present and accounted for. Similarly, with shelving, make sure all the shelves (and pegs) you’ll need are included. Missing parts can be difficult to replace, especially for older furniture.
5. Inspect for signs of insect infestation.
Termites and bed bugs are two types of insects that could hide in second-hand furniture and could potentially follow you home.
Termite-infested wooden furniture may show visible damage when you inspect the interior or base of the piece. Some other signs of termites include droppings (termite droppings), which are tiny hexagonal pellets that will be the same color as the wood that has been eaten. You may also notice piles of termite wings. If you notice any of these signs – or live termites – run the other way and don’t even consider buying the piece of furniture.
Bed bugs aren’t just found in used mattresses, they can also be present in upholstered sofas, chairs, and other fabric-covered pieces. In most cases, it is better to give up upholstered furniture altogether. If you really want the room, at least inspect it for bed bugs: place the item on a white sheet. Then, while wearing white latex gloves, run your finger through the folds of the piece. Watch your finger and the white sheet carefully for any movement, skin, or stains of dark red feces. A flashlight can also help you inspect hard-to-see areas.
6. Avoid lead paint.
Furniture made before 1978 may contain lead paint. Ingestion or inhalation of lead paint poses a serious health risk, especially to children. A sign that furniture is covered in lead paint is a cracked or wrinkled surface that looks like the scales of an alligator. Lead paint will also leave a chalky residue if it rubs off. If you don’t know the age of a piece or suspect it may contain lead paint, you can purchase instant lead test swabs to be sure.
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7. Look for signs of mold.
Mold is another substance you don’t want to bring back into your home. Mold poses a serious health problem, especially for people with respiratory problems caused by allergies or asthma. If you buy a piece of furniture with mold on or inside it, the mold could spread and damage other furniture and fixtures in your home.
Inspect second-hand furniture carefully, looking inside drawers and cabinets and along the base. Mold and mildew can sometimes look like dust or dirt. If you’re not sure what you’re dealing with, try rubbing a small amount of diluted bleach on a section of the room. If the substance is just dirt, the color should not change. However, if it is mold, the bleach should clear the area.
8. Rate the condition and comfort of the item.
In addition to evaluating each piece of furniture for potential health or safety issues, it’s also important to ensure that you only buy furniture that is in used condition (unless you are looking for a restoration project). You should also test chairs and couches to make sure they’re comfortable enough for you to want to sit on.
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9. Don’t waste money on overpriced items.
Part of the appeal of buying used furniture is saving money. Even if you’re looking at an antique or vintage piece, you shouldn’t spend your money on an item that isn’t an absolute steal. Shop around and compare prices to be sure you’re getting a good deal. Do not forget to also take into account the cost of necessary repairs!
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10. Make sure the part has not been recalled.
Before completing a purchase, confirm that the item has not been recalled. Selling recalled furniture is illegal, but a seller may not know the item has been recalled. The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website can help you check for recalls and confirm that there are no known safety issues with that couch or bunk bed you’re watching.