It’s been a while since I’ve had a big project to work on. Summer has been a whirlwind of activity and I’ve been working on a lot of small projects to stock the new shop. Even though I haven’t been working on more furniture pieces doesn’t mean I haven’t been looking! I’ve been continuing my regular Goodwill trips (with very little to show for it so far) and keeping on eye on OfferUp for great deals.While there have been lots of tempting pieces they’ve all been priced too high for a flip. So I decided to write a post about the dos and don’ts for beginner flippers.
Things to Look for in a Furniture Flip
- Good Bones: Is the piece sturdy? In good condition? Clean (relatively at least)? Made of wood? Laminate and pressed wood can be ok but you have to make extra sure that there is NO damage.
- Style Appeal: Is it a classic style? Stay away from things that are too “trendy” or specific to a certain kind of decor. These can be super fun but simple and timeless is always best.
- Pinterest Popularity: If you’ve seen a lot of ideas on Pinterest there’s a good chance everyone else has too. It’s most likely a hot piece and everyone is after one; take advantage of the trend while it lasts.
- Price: Be realistic. End tables aren’t going to sell for much unless you’ve got a pair but everyone could use a dresser or a storage piece. Remember to factor in how much repairs will cost when calculating potential profit. Buy low, sell high!
- Inspiration: This is really important. If a piece doesn’t “speak” to you in some way you won’t enjoy the project as much. While it is really satisfying to make a profit, it’s much more rewarding to enjoy the transformation process.
Things to Avoid/Beware of in Flip Projects
- Broken feet/legs: Sometimes you can remove old legs or feet and replace with new, but then you get into a whole realm of physics and making sure your piece is sturdy. Plus, furniture legs aren’t cheap.
- Water damage: If laminate or pressed wood has water damage there’s basically no saving it. It bubbles up and can’t be sanded down since it turns to crumbly, wet cardboard. Water damage warps real wood and leads to potential for mold and mildew. Don’t bother risking your health.
- Gunk and Stains: Some things can be cleaned and some things aren’t worth it. I scrubbed and sanded old stickers, nail polish, and paint off the top of a desk and, with a fresh coat of paint, you’d never have known it was there. Some stains and goopy gunk are pretty scary looking. If it gives you goosebumps just walk away.
- Missing/Damaged Drawer Bottoms: While these can be fixed I don’t think it’s worth the cost and effort for a beginning flipper. I’ve passed on some great deals because the drawer bottoms were in shambles. While completely removing the drawer can definitely be an option, I’ve found that this does detract from the value of the piece.
A Couple Considerations
- DO invest in good tools like a quality sander, good wood filler, and decent paint brushes.
- DON’T spend a ton of money on cute replacement handles. Work with originals as often as you can or look for deals. Replacing up to 10+ handles on a dresser gets pricey; try spending $1 or less if you can…$6 handles won’t add over $60 in value!
- DO line marked drawers with pretty paper but DON’T spend a ton on name brand liners. Target’s “Dollar Spot” liner papers have been the best I’ve ever used!
Since starting this post I’ve found not one but three awesome furniture projects! You never know when a deal is going to come your way and you’ve got to be ready. I picked up an antique china cabinet at an antique fair for a decent price considering the minor repairs needed and the potential for big profit. I went to a local thrift store for a $15 antique dresser in need of quite a bit of TLC and got a gorgeous antique vanity table for only $10 more! Though both pieces need a good bit of work, $25 for two ANTIQUE projects is amazing. Stay tuned for the makeovers and keep hunting for your own amazing deal.