How to Flip Furniture for Profit: The Ultimate Guide

With a solid plan and the right mindset, anyone can make a considerable side income by flipping furniture. 

Flipping furniture involves reselling used furniture for profit. Some treat furniture flipping as a side hustle and make a few hundred dollars every month. Others make a full-time income just from furniture flipping. 

However, although the concept of furniture flipping might seem simple, there is lots of strategy that go into each step of the process. 

Fortunately for you, in this post, we outline practically all the key furniture-flipping tips that beginners should know. 

In this ultimate guide, you will learn how to flip furniture for profit like a pro and build a successful furniture-flipping business. 

What is furniture flipping?

Flipping furniture is the process of acquiring used furniture, upcycling it, and then reselling it for profit.

As far as acquiring furniture goes, you can purchase furniture through Facebook marketplace and yard sales.

As far as upcycling furniture goes, repainting it or staining it is one of the best ways to breathe new life into it.

Selling the furniture involves strategically marketing your finished piece on Facebook marketplace, or other channels that we will soon discuss. 

Ultimately, there are two key ways to maximize the profitability of your furniture-flipping business: 

  1. Buy furniture for as little as possible and sell for as much as possible
  2. Acquire and sell furniture as quickly as possible

Is flipping furniture profitable?

Furniture flipping absolutely can be profitable. By flipping two to four furniture pieces per month you can make enough side income to pay for your rent, groceries, or other living expenses. Those who take it seriously can sometimes replace their job with furniture flipping. 

Ultimately, it can be as profitable as you want it to be. 

How much can you make flipping furniture?

As a beginner flipper

Realistically, most beginners can flip two two pieces per month without a problem. 

So how much does this translate to in income every month? 

Let’s start with the average sale price of a flipped piece of furniture. Assuming you are flipping nightstands, dressers, coffee tables, and similar pieces you can expect to earn around $200 dollars per piece. 

This is a very middle-ground, typical sale price of furniture of this type. These pieces can sell for more or less depending on their size, condition, and ultimately their paint job as well. However, for this hypothetical example, we will say you earn 200 dollars for each piece. 

Let’s assume the materials for each piece come out to 30 dollars per piece of furniture. 

($200 x 2) – ($30 x 2) = $340 

That’s $340 dollars in profit that you have made in a single month from flipping furniture. Not bad for a few hours of work per furniture piece. You could finish both in a weekend if you wanted. 

As an intermediate flipper

As an intermediate flipper, you can expect to flip around 5 pieces per month. 

Let’s assume that you are still selling each piece for $200. However, as an intermediate, after having around a dozen flips under your belt, you likely have accumulated supplies from your previous flips. Brushes, half-used cans of paint, sandpaper, primer, and other supplies may already be on hand. Therefore, you likely won’t need to spend as much for your next furniture flips as your first few. 

Rather than paying $30 on supplies per piece, let’s say you spend 15$ per piece instead.

Let’s do the math: 

($200 x 5) – ($15 x 5) = $925 

Ultimately, you could expect to make $925 per month. 

This is certainly no small amount of money for most. 

As an advanced flipper

As an advanced flipper, you would be treating furniture flipping as a part-time job or even a full-time job. 

Let’s assume you are flipping 10 to 20 pieces of furniture per month. 

Assuming you are selling each piece for 200 dollars, and assuming that your expenses are 15 dollars per piece of furniture, you would ultimately be making between $1,850 to $3,700 per month. 

Where to find furniture to flip

One of the most exciting aspects of flipping furniture is actually finding furniture pieces. Fortunately, there are many approaches to finding quality furniture to upcycle. 

Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist 

Facebook Marketplace is one of the most accessible, and easiest methods for finding used furniture for sale. With billions of Facebook users, there is practically an endless flow of used furniture postings. 

One of the most beautiful things about Facebook Marketplace is the filters you can use to narrow down your search for furniture. A few of these filters include: 

  • Proximity of listings relative to your location 
  • Price 
  • Condition
  • Date Listed 
  • Material

Similarly, Craiglist allows you to find used furniture for sale with many of the same filters for sifting through postings. Facebook is certainly more popular, so you will likely have more success on Facebook, but you most certainly can find gems on Craigslist as well. 

Yard sales 

Yard sales are incredible opportunities for finding used furniture. The beauty of yard sales is that people who host them are desperately trying to get rid of their stuff. Naturally, people sell furniture for cheap or even for free. 

The downside is that yard sales are a real hit or a miss. Sometimes there is a great selection of furniture, and sometimes there isn’t any furniture at all.

Estate sales 

Estate sales are when all the assets in a home are sold. Typically, estate sales happen following the death of the homeowner, a divorce, or bankruptcy.

Often, you can find furniture in incredible condition at estate sales. You might even find valuable antique furniture with tons of character. 

The downside is that you usually can’t get furniture completely for free like you would on Facebook marketplace or yard sales. 

Thrift stores and flea markets

Thrift stores and flea markets often have small collections of used furniture for cheap. More often than not, this furniture is in great condition, and a fresh paint job is all that’s needed. 

When looking at furniture in thrift stores and flea markets, be sure to inspect each piece thoroughly. You should avoid pieces that have been damaged by bugs, pieces with strong odor, or severely damaged furniture. 

Friends and family 

As you tell friends and family about your furniture-flipping business, you might be surprised that many people will mention they have furniture they would like to give away. 

That being said, friends and family might not be a dependable source for used furniture, but every now and then, you might be pleasantly surprised. 

The street 

Look into when most apartments turn over in the city that you are closest to. Often, people move into new apartments on September 1st.

That being said, late August is the opportune time to scour the streets of densely populated areas for free furniture. In some neighborhoods, people have no problem simply putting furniture out on the side of the road if they don’t want it.

Most profitable furniture to flip

As you look for furniture to flip, you might find an array of options. However, it pays to be choosy when selecting furniture to buy, and flip. Obviously, you want to go for the most profitable pieces. 

So what does a highly profitable piece of furniture look like? 

Generally, the bigger the better. Simply put, larger pieces of furniture sell for more than small pieces. Hence, there is more potential to make large profit with large furniture. 

Additionally, you want to look for furniture that will look good, no matter what the home’s style of decor is. Look for relatively modern pieces without too much ornamental design or flair that can complement practically any living space. 

Lastly, keep an eye out for pieces that you can buy for cheap, but easily add value to. For instance, if you find a nightstand without hardware, you can simply attach new hardware and boost the value of the piece by 2-5 times. 

See the most profitable furniture to flip below:

  • Dressers: Dressers are great to flip because they are always in demand. They are generally on the expensive side, making them very profitable to sell as long as you purchase them for a reasonable price. 
  • Nightstands: If possible try to purchase nightstands in pairs. People typically like matching nightstands on each side of their bed. Furthermore, you can make twice as much profit selling two nightstands than just one.
  • Desks: Given that more people are working from home than ever, desks are in demand. Given that they are generally large pieces of furniture, they can sell for a handsome profit. 
  • Tables: Although end tables and coffee tables are good to flip, you can make the most money with large dining room tables. Just be sure that you and a partner can lift the furniture when its time to sell.
  • TV stands: TV stands can be great value-add pieces if they are paintable. 
  • Couches: Although there is not much you can do to upcycle a couch, you can still flip used couches for profit. 

Furniture you SHOULDN’T flip

You should be selective when it comes to finding furniture to flip, and there are some red flags that you should look out for. 

First, cheap furniture might not be worth trying to salvage and flip. Cheap furniture by definition isn’t worth much in the first place, and USED cheap furniture is worth even less. Even with a fresh paint job, you might not be able to sell these pieces for a decent profit. 

Alternatively, if the furniture is severely marked up with scratches and gouges, or if its damaged to the point where it’s not really functional anymore, it might be best to take a pass. Remember that time is money. It doesn’t make sense to spend four hours repairing a piece of furniture and four hours prepping and painting it if it will ultimately sell for $30. 

How much to pay for the furniture 

Obviously, the less you pay for used furniture, the more profit you stand to make. Ideally, you want to pick up furniture being given away for free. 

However, some of the best finds often cost something. If you pay too much, you risk not turning much of a profit. Aim to make around $100 dollars in profit per flip. With that goal in mind, follow these rules: 

For any pieces of furniture on the smaller side that likely won’t sell for more than $100, try to pick up these pieces for free.

For pieces of furniture that will sell between $100 – $200, try to purchase these pieces for less than $30

For pieces of furniture that will sell for $200+, try to purchase these pieces for less than $50. 

Furniture flipping tools and supplies

Before you get started on your furniture-flipping journey, you will need to purchase some tools and supplies. The following are the bare minimum tools and supplies needed to get started, and we will discuss tools and supplies for advanced flippers further on. 

Cleaning solution and a rag: Cleaning your furniture is the first step of the furniture prep process. 

A few very affordable cleaning solutions include: 

  • Dish soap
  • Simple green 
  • TSP
  • White distilled vinegar

Any of these solutions should cost just a couple of bucks. 

Sandpaper: Sanding your furniture is one of the most important parts of the prep process. Sandpaper is key to smoothing out imperfections and roughing up your surface a bit to improve primer adhesion. 

Fine sandpaper (around 220 grit) is great for most projects. 

Primer: Primer is the base coat, serving as the foundation for your paint job. Primer ensures that your paint strongly adheres to the furniture surface. It improves the durability of the paint finish as well. 

Paint: There are numerous types of paint you can purchase for furniture including chalk paint, milk paint, mineral paint, and many others. However, as a beginner, if you want to keep things simple and easy, flat latex paint is very easy to work with. 

Paint brushes: As a complete beginner, the most important tool you need to get started is a trusty paintbrush. Two-inch wide flat paintbrushes are perfect for most furniture. 

Furniture paint brushes can cost can cost as little as $2 and as much as $40+ when purchased from high-end vendors. However, you can get great quality paint brushes for as much as $5-$10 dollars per brush.

When you’re just starting out, one or two paintbrushes are all you need. However, as you develop your business, you may be interested in purchasing specialty paint brushes for irregular or hard-to-reach parts of furniture. 

Protective gear: Safety is of utmost importance. The right protective gear ensures that you won’t damage your health as you prep and paint furniture. 

The protective gear you should consider includes:

  • Respiratory mask: An N95 or other respiratory mask helps you avoid breathing in dust as you sand down your furniture. 
  • Gloves: Paint and primer can be toxic to some degree. Consider using rubber gloves to avoid getting paint on your hands. 
  • Goggles: If you plan to hammer in new nails or staples into the furniture, goggles are important to protect your eyes.

Although the following tools and supplies aren’t necessary for all furniture flips, they are certainly helpful under certain circumstances:

  • Spray paint: Spray paint shouldn’t be used to paint entire pieces of furniture per se, but rather, it’s a great way to change the color of hardware on furniture. Gold, bronze, and silver spray paint are great for drawer pulls.  
  • Wood filler: Wood filler can be used to fill imperfections such as dents, gouges, and scratches. Once the wood filler has dried, you can sand it to smooth out the surface.
  • Bondo: Similar to wood filler, Bondo can be used to fill dents and gouges in furniture. However, given that Bondo is a hardier, more durable solution in comparison, it is best for relatively more severe dents, cracks, or gouges.
  • Putty knife: A putty knife or similar plastic utensil is an extremely useful tool for spreading and molding bondo and wood filler wherever needed. 
  • Hammer: Sooner or later you will come across nails that should be removed from used furniture or areas where new nails are needed. Naturally, a hammer is needed in these cases. 
  • Philips head screwdriver: A screwdriver is key for removing screws from hardware. Removing hardware from furniture before painting is necessary to avoid accidentally painting your hardware. Alternatively, a drill is a much more powerful solution. 
  • Painter’s tape: Painter’s tape is needed to mask off parts of the furniture that shouldn’t be painted. 
  • Drop cloth: If you are painting furniture indoors, chances are you need a drop cloth. A drop cloth shields the floor from dripping paint. 
  • Tape measurer: To measure certain parts of furniture that need to be replaced (like drawer pulls), a tape measurer is key to determine the appropriate replacement part size. 
  • Finishing nails and brad nails: Finishing nails and brad nails are common nails for furniture. It’s good to have a box of nails in case you need to make some minor repairs. 
  • Wood glue: For minor repairs that involve joining pieces of wood together it’s good to have wood glue on hand. 
  • Furniture risers: Furniture risers, are essentially little platforms for the feet of your furniture. They essentially prop your furniture up so it’s easier to paint the feet.

How to paint your furniture to increase its value 

If you really want, you can find furniture for cheap, and sell it for more without doing a thing to it. But you likely won’t make much profit per flipped piece. And lets face it… its not a very creative way to flip furniture. 

A good quality paint job can substantially boost the value of your furniture. You can make hundreds of dollars more by prepping it and painting or staining it. 

Cleaning, sanding, priming, and painting should be the main steps involved in most paint projects. 

Lets take a closer look at what a typical paint makeover looks like: 

Clean your furniture

No matter where you got your furniture, chances are it will need to be cleaned before you paint it. 

Dish soap and water is a great cleaning solution. Simply pour a bit of dish soap into a small pale of water and use a cloth to scrub down you furniture. However, wring the cloth out before applying it to the furniture so that it’s not sopping wet. 

A bit of Simple Green mixed with water is also a very effective and eco-friendly way to clean furniture. 

Remove hardware (if any)

If you’re painting a dresser, desk, or other furniture with drawers, there may be some hardware you should remove. If you don’t you risk accidentally painting over the hardware. 

Open up the drawers and use a screwdriver to remove the screws holding the hardware in place. Alternatively, to be more efficient you can use a drill.

Scuff sand 

Lightly sanding your furniture creates a rough and ‘grippy’ surface for primer to stick to. Sanding down furniture also helps to remove any rough areas and imperfections. This way, when the furniture is painted over, the finish is nice and smooth.

Apply primer 

Furniture with primer applied to it has the ideal surface for paint to adhere to. Primer also makes your paint finish more durable.

Apply two coats of paint

Paint your piece by hand, or use a paint sprayer if you want to invest a bit into your furniture flipping business right from the start. 

Apply two layers of paint to maximize the durability of the paint job. 

What colors to paint furniture 

Colors black, white, gray, and beige will always be popular for furniture. After all, these neutral colors can complement practically any home decor. These colors might seem boring to you, but they are some of the most unanimously liked colors among buyers. 

Although black, white, gray, and beige will always be in style, there are certainly other colors that are popular. By keeping up on furniture trends on Instagram and Pinterest, you can get a feel for the colors that are currently trending. Learn more about the best colors to paint furniture here

Other ways to increase your furniture’s value (other than painting) 

Repainting your furniture is almost a surefire way to boost its value. However, there are other changes you can make to furniture pieces to increase their worth. 

However, note that there is always a tradeoff between extra time and money invested in a project and the extra profit you stand to make. Keep that in mind before you make any of the following changes: 

Adding new hardware to the drawers 

If you want to modernize a nightstand or dresser with chippendale drawer pulls for instance, the easiest way is to replace those drawer pulls with modern steel drawer pulls. It’s such a small change that can make a massive difference. 

Changing the feet of furniture

Changing the feet of furniture is another excellent way to modernize it. For instance, hair in dresser legs is a sure fire way to create contemporary looking piece. 

Distressing, blending, dark wax 

There are certain stylistic effects that you can create specifically with chalk paint 

For instance, distressing is the process of strategically wearing away certain painted areas to make the furniture look aged and weathered. The finished product can look quite charming. 

Where to sell your refinished furniture

Selling your furniture is one of the most important part of the furniture flipping process. Fortunately, you can sell your furniture on many of the same platforms you would use to find furniture: 

Facebook marketplace and Craigslist 

With so many people looking for furniture to purchase on Facebook Marketplace, it’s probably the best place to market and sell your upcycled furniture. 

One huge perk of Facebook Marketplace is the platform gives you valuable data on how receptive Facebook users are to your listing. You can see how many people have clicked and saved your listing. This data can be incredibly valuable. After you flip a few pieces, you can start to see which pieces garnered more clicks than others. For instance, if dressers seem to perform better than other furniture pieces, consider focus on flipping dressers specifically. 

Similarly, there is a sizable audience on Craigslist eager to buy good-looking furniture. It may be worth posting on Craigslist as well. 

Apps 

There are various apps you can leverage to sell used items such as furniture including:

  • Offer Up: Offer Up claims it’s the biggest mobile marketplace for local buyers and sellers. It supposedly makes it so easy to list items that you can do so in just 30 seconds. 
  • Chairish: Unlike Offer Up, which allows you to list practically any items, Chairish is an online marketplace for high-end vintage home decor. You can get an account and list furniture for free. 
  • 5miles: 5miles claims the app is “like your own online garage sale without the hassle”. Not only can you sell home items easily through the app, but people can list services and even apartments for rent through the app as well.

Etsy 

Etsy is one of the most popular ecommerce sites for buying and selling handmade and vintage goods. 

Selling your furniture locally and having the buyer pick it up is certainly the easiest way to make sales. However, you can take things to the next level and ship your furniture through Etsy. 

Note that this is certainly a much more involved process. However, many would say its worth it. 

Local flea markets, vintage markets, and craft fairs 

Flea markets and craft fairs are an incredible way for small business owners to sell used decor items and hand-made goods. Suffice it to say that flea markets are a perfect place to sell painted furniture. 

One of the best parts about flea markets is prospective buyers get the opportunity to see your furniture in person before deciding to buy it. This benefit sets flea markets apart from Facebook Marketplace, Etsy and similar online platforms that don’t allow buyers to get an in-person look at the inventory. 

The first step is finding flea markets in your area. A quick Google search should do the trick. Once you find a suitable flea market, register your business and set up a booth. 

The art of staging your furniture 

Figuring out where to sell your furniture is just half the battle of selling it. The other part is marketing your pieces so that they look as attractive to buyers as possible. 

This is where staging your furniture is key. 

No matter where you sell your furniture online (Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, Craigslist, apps, etc.) you will need photos of your painted pieces. The better the furniture looks in these photos, the better. 

That said, to take a good set of photos, it’s worth placing your furniture in a well-lit, clean, and neutral area without distractions. An example would be a hallway with a neutral wall color. An undesirable area that you might want to avoid would be a dingy, unfinished basement where you painted your piece. 

Make sure that there is lots of natural light. If there isn’t, at the very least be sure to make sure the room’s lighting is good. 

Take multiple photos at different angles. Take the photos from the following angles: 

  • Facing your piece straight on
  • Looking at the piece from one front corner
  • From the side of the piece
  • Facing the front from a slightly top-down angle
  • Close-up photos of any ornamental designs and hardware 
  • View of the drawers pulled out slightly 

Take these photos at the very least, and take other photos if you would like. 

PRO TIP: 

If the furniture is a dresser, nightstand, desk, or coffee table with drawers, pull the drawers out slightly. If you see a dovetail interlocking of the drawer face and the sides of the drawer, this is a sign of good quality wood furniture. Take a picture of this interlocking section of one of the drawers. It’s a great way to prove the value of your furniture.

Recent iPhone models have incredible cameras. Smartphones in general are great for taking pictures of your pieces. 

However, if you want to take your game to the next level, you can even purchase a professional camera. 

Writing descriptions for your pieces 

Whether you are selling your furniture on Facebook marketplace or any online platform, you need to create an informative and enticing description for your pieces. 

Your descriptions should include the following at the very least: 

  • The length, width, and height dimensions of your furniture
  • Details on what was done to refinish it (e.g. sand, prime, paint, etc.)
  • Type of wood (if known), or material 
  • Details on any notable stylistic qualities, like if the piece is vintage or an antique
  • Condition of the piece (e.g. used, but in great condition) 
  • Selling price 

You should be completely transparent with prospective buyers on the details of the piece. However, in these descriptions, there is certainly the opportunity for persuasive sales copy. The way you frame your pieces can be massively influential in how they are received by your audience. Just be sure not to exaggerate. Remain transparent. 

How to price flipped furniture 

There are a few aspects of the furniture to consider when determining how you should price it. 

Quality of the furniture: A good quality paint job can certainly increase the value of the furniture. However, the quality of the furniture itself is really what determines its value. 

Cheap furniture from IKEA will never sell for as much as high-end furniture. 

Size of the furniture: Generally, the bigger the furniture is more the furniture is worth. All else being equal, a large dresser will certainly sell for more than a small dresser. 

Condition of the furniture: Does your furniture look beat up and weathered, even after refinishing it? Is the furniture functional? 

Try to honestly gauge if the furniture is in good shape or not when determining how you will price it. 

Quality of the refinishing: A truly professional-looking paint job can boost the value of a piece by 50%-100%. Keep this in mind. 

You can use the chart below, which shows the average cost of used furniture, as a reference to determine the ballpark for how much your piece is worth:

Scaling your business: Going from side hustle to sizable income

As you sell your first few pieces, you will get a feel for how the furniture flipping process works. As you get into the swing of things, you can start focusing on optimizing your business to generate more profit. 

There are three ways to maximize profits when furniture flipping: 

Selling more furniture

Improving inventory turnover is a surefire way to make more money. Said differently, painting furniture more efficiently so that you can sell more furniture will make you more profitable. 

There are a few ways to paint furniture more efficiently including:

  • Using a palm sander rather than sanding by hand
  • Using a paint sprayer to apply primer and paint more efficiently

Reduce costs 

The second way you can make more money from your furniture flipping business is by reducing costs. 

This will naturally become easier for you as time goes on. Initially, you will face relatively high costs for flipping furniture because you will have to make initial investments in basic materials like brushes, paint, sandpaper, and other necessary materials. However, many of these materials are reusable, so you won’t have to spend as much on each new piece as you flip more and more. 

Increase selling price 

The last way to make more money from your business is by selling pieces for more.

You can sell furniture for more by maximizing its value by replacing hardware, and artistic effects as previously mentioned. 

A few examples of artistic effects include: 

  • Applying a soft coat of dark wax in the nooks, corners, and edges of a piece, can give it some character. 
  • Blending chalk paint colors in certain areas of a dresser can give the piece depth. 
  • Light distressing on the corners and and edges can give a piece a charming weathered look. 

People notice the extra attention to detail, and they often are willing to pay more as a result. 

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