evaluating furniture, shopping for used furniture, upholstering, used furniture

Buying Used Furniture for Upholstering

by Bernie Iven

You have developed some upholstering skills, and now intend to furnish your house, or help a friend furnish hers. What should you look for?

Of course you want to look for a frame style that fits in with the décor you plan, but beyond that, how can you make sure you’ve bought a piece at the garage sale, thrift store, or auction that is worth your while upholstering?

The process is similar to buying a house….. look beneath the surface to the foundation. First, ignore the fabric— that’s the one thing for sure that you are going to replace. In fact, the worse shape the fabric is in, the better the bargain you’re likely to get. Focus on the stuffings and the frame. And especially the frame.

If the stuffings are in good shape, you may get lucky and only have to replace the fabric. But stuffings can be replaced, so don’t let their poor condition deter you entirely.

The frame is most important. Give the frame a gentle stress test. Check to see that it doesn’t creak or that joints are not loose. Check the surface conditions. Small scratches can be covered, but if the surface is in bad shape, ask yourself if you’re willing to go through the labor of refinishing it. Lastly pick the piece up. If it is relatively heavy, that’s a good sign. It generally means that hardwood has been used rather than softer woods or plywood. If it all checks out, it’s the style you want, and the price is right, buy it! And…..

Happy Upholstering!

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