U.S. demand for furniture is rising and is expected to reach $68.8 billion in 2022.

Despite companies offering furniture at low prices, and some well-known brands even beginning to roll out greener products, consumers are recognizing the benefits of purchasing used furniture or finding ways to repurpose existing items.

This guide addresses the benefits of buying used furniture and offers tips and tricks to help with the process. Additionally, we share advice for sustainably restoring furniture and how to upcycle items you already own.

Table of contents:

Benefits of used furniture
Where to buy used furniture
Tips for buying used furniture
Eco-friendly restoration tricks
Upcycled furniture ideas
Additional resources

Benefits of used furniture

There are many great reasons to buy or repurpose used furniture.

Quality furniture can be expensive, and cheap, fast furniture wreaks havoc on the environment and often doesn’t last because it’s low quality. Below we look at the main benefits of buying or repurposing used furniture.

You support your local economy

Another perk of buying used furniture is you put money directly into the hands of an individual business-owner and your local economy rather than a big business. Instead of contributing to the additional earnings of a billionaire, you can help vitalize your neighborhood.

You save money

Buying used furniture, or repurposing furniture you already own, is great for your pocketbook. Even if the piece requires some work, such a new coat of paint or needs to be upholstered (check out our sections on eco-friendly restoration tips and upcycled furniture ideas section), you’ll still save money. Plus, when shopping for used furniture, you can often find higher-quality pieces at reasonable prices, allowing you to get more bang for your buck.

Items are often higher quality

If you’re buying something used, it’s likely been around a few years. If it’s still in decent shape this is a testament to the fact that the item is high quality as nice furniture should last decades or even a century. Cheap furniture is easily damaged and tends to fall apart quickly.

Additionally, cheap furniture is often constructed with particleboard and adhesives that contain formaldehyde, a toxic chemical. Formaldehyde can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, wheezing and coughing, fatigue, skin rash, severe allergic reactions and potentially cancer.

It’s more ethical

The furniture industry, particularly the fast furniture industry, is extremely unsustainable and wasteful. It can also be unethical. By choosing to buy something used or repurposing an item you already have, you can reduce your environmental footprint and your support of unfair labor practices.

Environmental issues

Each year, Americans throw out more than 12 million tons of furniture and furnishings, 80 percent of which ends up in the landfill. Purchasing new items contributes to deforestation, leading to biodiversity loss and soil erosion. Furthermore, a significant amount of furniture is produced internationally. This helps to keep costs to consumers low, but the environmental cost of transporting raw materials and finished products around the world is extremely high.

Human rights issues

In addition to unsustainable practices, furniture production can involve unfair wages or even child or forced labor. When the focus is on keeping costs low, humans can become exploited in the process. By refusing to purchase items produced using unfair practices, you let companies know that you don’t approve and will not support these policies. You can vote for a better, more just world with your dollar.

Where to buy used furniture

There are many places both online and in-person where you can find used furniture for sale. Discover some of the best places to shop for used furniture below.

Online marketplaces

A great way to find quality used furniture is to look at what people have listed online. You can use social media sites or apps such as:

Facebook marketplace

You can also find local used furniture on popular websites such as Craigslist and eBay.

Furniture rentals

Given the fact that the average person moves 11 times during their lifetime, renting furniture can reduce the burden of relocating. There are many trustworthy companies that do furniture rentals, such as:


In general, renting furniture just means paying a recurring fee before deciding to purchase the item or return it to the company.


When hotels renovate they often sell their old furniture. Similar to purchasing furniture from an individual, you’ll really want to avoid purchasing a used mattress from a hotel. You can imagine how purchasing a used hotel mattress could potentially land you in a sticky situation!

Check out RichRooms.com to find coast-to-coast inventory of used hotel furniture.

Thrift stores

Local thrift and consignment shops are great places to find used furniture. A quick google search should reveal your local shops.

You can also find the closest Goodwill or Salvation Army stores near you through their websites.

Yard sales

You can often find quality used furniture for low prices at yard sales where people are offloading furniture they no longer have a use for. They may be moving or they could have decided that they would rather buy something new than put a little work into an item that may actually be easily salvageable.

Check your local listings or use the Yard Sale Treasure Map to find yard sales in your area.

Estate sales

An estate sale normally takes place when a family or individual is selling virtually everything in their home due to a death, significant downsizing, cross-country move or bankruptcy. These sales are goldmines for used furniture.

You can find local estate sales happening near you by visiting websites such as EstateSale.com.

Tips for buying used furniture

A lot of what you need to look out for when buying used furniture is similar to what you should consider when purchasing new furniture. You want to make sure you're purchasing a safe piece from a trustworthy source that is going to meet your needs and expectations.

Safety tips

Buying used furniture is a less formal and regulated process. In order to ensure your safety consider the following:

1. Don’t buy used mattresses: Avoid buying items such as used mattresses that can contain hard-to-spot and even harder to clean mold, dust mites or bed bugs.

2. Pass on items that smell: It can be challenging to get rid of unpleasant smells, especially in items where something dirty could be lurking under the surface.

3. Stay away from items that contain bed bugs: If you happen to spot bed bugs on an item you’re thinking about purchasing –– which is not easy to do as they’re masters at concealment –– pass on it. Bed bugs are challenging to get rid of as they can go more than a year without food and their eggs are almost undetectable.

4. Make sure the item wasn’t recalled: Although it’s illegal to sell furniture that has been recalled –– unless it’s been properly repaired –– it’s possible it will end up back in circulation. If you know the make and model you can check if the item has been recalled on SaferProducts.gov.

5. Test the furniture: Make sure the furniture item is sturdy and can withstand however much weight you plan to put on it. The last thing you want is an item to collapse under the weight of your body or personal stuff.

General purchasing tips

For a seamless and positive experience do the following:

6. Bring a measuring tape: If you need an item to be a certain size, bring a measuring tape so you can double-check the seller’s measurements.

7. Look for tags: This is not only helpful if you want to check whether or not an item has been recalled, but also so you can better understand the value of the item.

8. Know that pictures can be deceiving: Whenever possible, check out the item in person. It’s not uncommon for items to photograph well, but look very different in person.

9. See its potential: Recognize that many items, with just a little TLC, can become fantastic additions to your home. Keep an open mind and try to think creatively about whether or not with a little help an item will work for you.

Eco-friendly restoration tricks

If purchasing an imperfect item or deciding a piece in your home is salvageable, you may want to put some work into restoring it.

Consider these eco-friendly restoration tricks to turn your piece into an item you love:

Use nuts to get rid of scratches: Rub the meat of a Brazilian, walnut, pecan or almond on the scratch. The oil from the nut soaks into the wood causing the scratch to fade away.

Use natural paints: Look for paints that are Zero VOC, meaning they are free of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Paints that contain chemicals or gasses can cause headaches, dizziness, visual and respiratory impairment. It’s also worth looking for products that are GREENGUARD certified. This certification helps buyers identify interior products and materials that have low chemical emissions so that they can choose products that are better for their health and the planet.

Use non-toxic finishes: You’ll also want your wood finish to be Zero-VOC. Natural oil-based wood finishes, such as those made from rosewood or walnut oil, are a great option.

Use sustainable fabrics when reupholstering: Ideally, you’ll want to look for recycled, natural fabrics that have nontoxic and heavy-metal-free dyes.

Upcycled furniture ideas

The process of upcycling furniture means reusing an item in such a way that gives it a new value. Here are a few ideas of ways to you upcycle furniture in your home:

Turn desk drawers into side tables

Pull out the drawers of an old desk and stand them upright to function as side or end tables.

Transform a crib into a bench

Use the sides of a baby crib to create the back of a bench.

Create an upholstered ottoman using a coffee table

If you have a damaged coffee table, consider adding upholstery to turn it into a comfy ottoman.

Make a headboard into a coat rack

Depending on the style of the headboard, you can secure it to a wall and then just add hooks!

Build a dog bed out of a dresser drawer

Fill the drawer with comfy blankets and pillows and voila.

Additional resources

Check out these additional resources to learn more about safely purchasing used furniture and the impacts of choosing used furniture.

Environmental Protection Agency – How to Find Bed Bugs
6 Ways to Find Cheap Furniture for Your Apartment
Cheap Secondhand Furniture: What to Buy Used
CDC – Formaldehyde in Your Home: What You Need to Know
Environmental Protein Agency – Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste and Recycling

Buying used furniture or repurposing items you already own can help make your neighborhood and our planet a better place. So the next time you’re moving a short distance consider bringing items you were thinking of tossing and finding a way to repurpose them. If you’re moving across the country, consider purchasing used furniture from people in your new neighborhood.

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