Furniture Painting

Tips for Buying Furniture Online

Today I am going to be sharing tips for buying furniture online. Specifically from Craigslist or Facebook Market Place! Things to look out for and mistakes to avoid! Including ways to determine if you?re purchasing a quality item vs. something built poorly or not worth the trouble! this post contains affiliate links

These tips for buying furniture online is just a single post in an entire series of posts dedicated to helping you learn all the aspects of painting furniture. This series is an introduction to furniture painting you can find so many more tips and videos from this series HERE.


My First Furniture Purchase From Craigslist

Tips for buying furniture online. I first started purchasing furniture off of craigslist long before I owned a home! I remember my very first craigslist find and how incredibly excited I was about it! Unfortunately, as all things go there was definitely a ?learning curve?. Purchasing items on craigslist or any other online market place is challenging particularly because you don’t have the luxury of shopping for items in person pictures are all you have to go on.? I have certainly made some bad purchases but it was through trial and error that I was able to come up with some steps I now go through each time during and before purchase that help me make sure the furniture I am bringing home is worth the effort. I hope these tips for buying furniture online will help you avoid mistakes I have made in the past and have a better buying experience!

Tips For Buying Furniture Online

If you?ve ever searched your local online marketplaces or Craigslist you?ll know firsthand how hard it can be to tell from a picture what exactly you?re looking at! For instance. My first craigslist purchase was a dresser and nightstand set. I was soo soo excited about it and didn?t think to ask any additional questions. Besides a little haggling which I was pretty excited about, taking the price down from 100-75!! While that was a great start for a newbie, had I been able to see the quality of furniture I was purchasing I would have realized that even $75 for this particular set of furniture was not worth it!!

We didn?t have a truck so we had to borrow our in-laws car and trailer to get this set and I figured we had already made all the effort to borrow the vehicle and drive 45 minuets to the destination I wasn?t about to go home empty handed!!! So I didn?t really take a good look at the furniture before we loaded it up and headed back home!

SOOO many rookie mistakes happened during my first transaction, looking back I?m kind of glad so many thins went wrong because it set me up to succeed with future purchases! I have since developed a series of questions I ask any online seller before I take the effort to go and pick it up or even look at it!

Once I?ve found a listing online that I like based on the pictures here are things I like to confirm with the buyer!

  1. Is This Made of Real Wood? And If So What Type?

  • This is important to me because all of my second-hand furniture purchases from online marketplaces will indeed be project pieces. I want to ensure its quality and solid wood is usually a great indicator!! The type of wood is only important if I plan to stain or just sand and seal the bare wood. Certain types of wood such as cherry will pull more red tones. This may not be ideal if I am looking for something more warm tone. So keep this in mind before purchase!
  • Rookie mistake number 1! My first furniture set was unfortunately made of plastic and had bubbled up laminate tops from water damage! Meaning no amount of sanding was going to fix the dings and scratches and it also didn?t hold on to the paint well either! I was less than pleased with the results because the finish was not wood! Where I can usually buff or sand away imperfections with wood furniture, painting over them only exaggerated the imperfections.
  1. Does This Item or Items Have Any Imperfections?

  • Often times second hand furniture will have imperfections or be damaged. Its second hand furniture after all. I always ask for this specifically because buyers don?t always disclose this! If it?s something simple like its scratched or a little worn or the finish is coming off I don?t think twice! I can almost always sand those types of issues out, or paint over them!
  • However, a broken drawer or missing trim etc. May pose a different challenge! If I cannot reasonably fix those issues or work with them to hide them in the finished product I will not move forward with the purchase!
  • Rookie mistake number 2!!! The large center drawer on my first dresser was broken!! The drawer portion was completely missing and only the face or front piece of wood of the drawer was left! At the time I purchased this dresser I didn?t have as saw or any of the skills to build a new drawer! As you can imagine that broken drawer drove me crazy the entire time I owned it and it was never fixed! Anytime I opened a drawer or cabinet it fell right to the floor
  1. Is The Furniture From a Pet Free Smoke Free Home?

  • For me pet free is a non-issue! Especially since I rarely purchase upholstered pieces but if you have severe allergies this may be a potential issue for you! Smoke free home is however a deal breaker for me personally. I have a very sensitive nose and from past expedience can tell you that even after many years and baking soda the smell does not fully dissipate from the furniture. This is particularly a problem if you plan to store clothing in the dresser because your clothes will eventually smell of smoke as well.
  • Rookie mistake number 3!!! My first set was from a home where they smoked. I read online that if I just sprinkled ?baking soda in the drawers and let it sit, that the smell would disappear! I also assumed the smell would go away after I painted! WRONG and WRONG! I had the baking soda sitting for several weeks and even changed it out a few times. We owned the dresser for several years and I stored my kids? books in it. Over time they began to smell of smoke so I ended up not being able to store anything in this big old dresser meaning besides a T.V stand which was how I used it, it was pretty useless!


  1. Where Are You Located?

  • I live in a town with a very large radius! There are also lots of small suburbs as well that can mean I could easily travel an hour 1 way to pick up an item I buy online! If you don?t feel as though traveling 2 hours for furniture is worth it than you should be sure of location before you set out on your adventure!!
  • You may for an additional fee be able to get the seller to deliver it t you! I have done this on one occasion and it was awesome! Well worth the $20 spent on the delivery fee in my opinion! We always have to borrow a vehicle to get large furniture sets so the process of getting a vehicle when its available and bringing the furniture home unloading it than driving back to return the vehicle is quite a headache so If you?re willing to pay a little extra and the seller is willing to bring it to you I would say go for it!
  • Rookie Mistake #4 not only did my first seller live well over an hour away they also were on a the 3rd story of an apartment complex! This made getting the furniture loaded up much trickier and on top of all the pervious issues I mentioned really should have been my final que to just walk away!


  1. What are The Dimensions!

  • This tip is important for 2 reasons. One, will it fit in your vehicle of transport, and Two will it be the right dimensions for the space you intend! Both are going to be important! If you cannot fit the furniture in your car to haul it home and you don’t have access to a different vehicle that will you need to say no.
  • For example, if you intend to put the furniture in? specific area of your home or use it for a T.V. stand for example the size matters. If you have a 50 inch T.V. but the buffet you plan to purchase is only 45 inches long. Its going to look funny and even more tiny with your large T.V resting on it. make sure you get measurements.

? 6. Haggle

  • My perspective on this is? a little different because I often sell furniture online. I make it a point to list my furniture a little higher than the price I intend to get for it. That way if the buy asks for a lower price I can give it to them making them more willing to make the purchase!
  • ?If the buyer takes the price I have it listed for I’ve then made more than I even planned on! No complaint there!
  • Since I already know this from a sellers perspective I keep that in mind as a buyer. Generally I offer 100,50,25$ lower than asking price. Unless the furniture is really over priced then I may ask for an even lower price. Try to get a feel for your local market and make sure your deals are fair! I hope these tips for buying furniture online will help you get the best deal possible!

7. Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

  • This is something to consider once you’ve had a little experience with buying furniture online. I have scored some of the BEST sets of furniture and for the lowest prices that had terrible listing pictures. One in particular was a single blurry image of a set of 5 furniture. It ended up being a major find and its one of my all time favorite sets of furniture! Don’t be afraid to take the risk and check out furniture that has a really poor listing picture you may be pleasantly surprised. My favorite tips for buying furniture online

8. Do I have someone who can come with me to get this item(s)!


  • Safety should ALWAYS be taken into consideration when you go pick up furniture or any item from an unknown seller. Meeting in a public location like a busy grocery store parking lot is not usually an option. Most of the time you will be going directly to the sellers home. Make sure you bring someone along not just to help you load but to keep you safe.
  • Rookie mistake number 5! Fortunately, I had my husband in tow for my first furniture pick up but on my 3rd set, I went alone it was in a kind of scary part of town and I felt very uncomfortable alone with this man in his home as we loaded up the furniture I couldn?t get out of there fast enough! At the end of the day nothing bad happened but it made me promise myself to never go alone again!
  • Its also never a good idea to assume the seller can help you load the furniture. It is more often than not a two man job. I myself have had instances when I was pregnant and not able to lift the furniture to help my buyer. I make sure they were aware and have someone with them to help get the job done!


In Conclusion:

That is it for my 8 tips for buying furniture online! These questions will help you weed out the good and bad purchases! Making it much more likely that you are getting a quality piece of furniture. Something that is worth the time and effort spent procuring it and then making it over!

Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

lastly, Don?t be afraid to walk away. If you show up and find the seller was misleading or the set is just not what you wanted don’t be afraid to walk. It?s not worth the trouble to haul something home. Especially if you don?t feel is worth the effort to make over and isn?t something you are going to love! After all, the main purpose is to help us decorate our homes on budget not add more junk to it!

I hope you found my?tips for buying furniture online helpful and insightful as you plan and execute your first furniture pieces!!! If you have anything you think I should add to this list please send me a message! I?d love to learn from you too! If you have a funny story or an awesome find you would like to share please do so as well! I love hearing from you all! And a good story is always something I can sqeeze in time for! If these tips for buying furniture online help you in any way please feel free to share!!!

Take care


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