New vs. Second-Hand Furniture: Which Is Better?

Outfitting homes with second-hand furniture and refurbishing used tables and chairs is a popular trend. Buying your furnishings from a thrift shop is ideal if you want a living room sofa that is already springy and soft due to previous use. However, if you’re decorating outdoors, new patio furniture may be a better idea since pre-owned pieces may not be as sturdy after exposure to the elements.

Deciding whether to buy new or used furniture can be difficult. Since both choices have their advantages and disadvantages, it helps to compare the benefits and drawbacks to see what works best for you. You’ll want to consider factors such as cost, quality and warranties before making your decision.

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Second-Hand Furniture Advantages and Disadvantages

Selecting gently used furniture can be a fun weekend project if you want to update items with a new finish or upholstery. A used table or chair is often an economical choice, too. While there are many personal and practical reasons to pick second-hand sofas, tables and decor, there are also negative aspects. Think carefully about the pros and cons of choosing used furniture before you buy.

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Pro: Cost

Second-hand furniture is a budget-friendly choice for people who want to avoid overspending on decor. Used furnishings typically have a modest price tag, and sellers may negotiate. Second-hand seating and accent pieces are often a fraction of in-store prices. Free hand-me-down chairs and loveseats from a friend or relative are even more cost-effective.

Pro: Unique Aesthetic

Finding chic, unique items unavailable in stores is another benefit of choosing used furniture. As fashion trends change, furniture retailers discontinue certain patterns, colors and brands. You can still find these styles on websites, in flea markets and inside thrift shops, so second-hand shopping lets you track down these one-of-a-kind pieces.

Con: Decreased Quality

Used furniture may have damage due to previous use. Wooden furniture may exhibit signs of wood rot or splintering, while upholstered furniture, rugs and pillows can have mold, allergens or bed bugs in the fabric. Since most people purchase pre-owned furniture as-is, it’s up to you to repair and refurbish each item.

Be sure to inspect furnishings carefully before buying anything used. Examine the material, foundation and frame and look for signs of mold or insects as well as rips, stains and cracks. Furniture with light wear and tear can be a fun DIY project but be prepared to buy furniture cleaner, wood stain, foam padding or fabric to clean, refinish or reupholster your purchase.

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Con: Online Scams

Many people sell used furniture online through social media posts. Shopping online marketplaces is convenient, but answering these ads can be risky. Bait-and-switch sellers may offer items that look completely different than their photos. Scammers may also require payment to reserve a chair or sofa for pickup, then delete their posts and disappear without giving you what you paid for.

To avoid these scams, read the product description carefully before responding to the ad. Then, arrange an in-person meeting so you can examine the furniture. Bring a friend or family member along as a safety precaution, and ensure that the items meet your standards before you hand over any money.

New Furniture Advantages and Disadvantages

Though second-hand furniture is becoming more mainstream, many shoppers prefer to purchase pieces from an established retailer. While it may seem like an easier and safer option, there are a few things to consider when shopping in stores. Consider the pros and cons before buying brand new furniture.

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Pro: Increased Quality

New high-quality recliners, sectionals and coffee tables last longer and are more durable than their second-hand counterparts. Due to the lack of wear and tear, patio furniture from a retailer can also withstand the elements better and require less upkeep. You can also invest in tarps, covers and finishes that help maintain your furniture and ensure that it stays sturdy and gorgeous for years to come.

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Pro: Financing and Warranties

If you are a little low on funds, it is still possible to get brand new furniture. Many stores provide financing options that help you make affordable payments on your furniture. They may also offer warranties that cover repair costs for certain damages that occur after purchase. Depending on their written policies, some retailers even replace broken furniture free of charge.

Con: Longer Wait Times

Waiting periods are common when buying from a furniture retailer. Delivery items can take several business days to ship from the store to your residence. If the pieces you want are out of stock or on backorder, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more before you get to bring your purchase home.

Con: Cost

Despite financing and payment plans, new furniture can be quite expensive. Even small items like bar stools, benches and side tables can cost hundreds of dollars. However, you may be able to find great deals on the pieces you want by using coupons, shopping during sales events and buying outdoor furniture in the fall and winter when stores are clearing out their summer inventory.

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Pre-Owned or New: Which is Right for You?

Both new and used furniture have their strong points and their weak spots, so how do you choose which one is best for your home? Doing a little research on DIY refurbishing, following a furniture buying guide and considering a few important questions can help you figure out whether unused or second-hand furniture is the right option for you.

  • What kind of furniture material are you looking for?: Buying upholstered furniture brand new ensures that the cushions are free of bugs and stains. However, if you want metal, wicker, iron or plastic pieces, you can buy them second-hand and clean them up with water and mild dish soap to make them look as good as new.
  • Do you rent or own your home?: Condo and apartment dwellers may choose to get their small 3pc seating and dining sets second hand so they can part with them or pack them up when they decide to move. If you’re a homeowner, you might want to invest in new six-piece seating arrangements and nine-piece dining sets that you plan to keep for several years.
  • What is your furniture budget?: Though you can find new couches and sectionals for less than $500 at some stores, used furniture tends to be the go-to if you’re looking for affordable options. If you have a little extra money to spend, you may decide to browse more expensive selections in a furniture store.
  • How soon do you need your furniture?: You usually get pre-owned furniture the same day you buy it, which may be critical if your apartment is bare and you need a bed frame or seating as soon as possible. Those who can get by with a few stackable or folding chairs may be willing to wait a little longer for new pieces.
  • Do you have the tools and skills to make repairs?: If you want to leave furniture repairs to the professionals, consider getting new furniture with a warranty. However, if rolling up your sleeves and fixing damage yourself is part of the appeal, second-hand options are a good fit for you.
  • What are your style preferences?: If your goal is to create a specific modern, rustic or casual layout, new furniture may be your best option. Used sofas and chairs are typically better for establishing an eclectic, classic or avant-garde aesthetic.
  • How do you plan on designing your space?: Used furniture presents a fun challenge if you like to mix and match different pieces to design your own unique layout. If a cohesive look and the convenience of a single purchase are more appealing, opt for a new seating collection that will complement the other furniture and decor in the room.

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