It’s hard to paint furniture if you can’t even find furniture to paint! So I put together this list of the first places you should start looking at to score the ultimate old furniture finds. And where you should stop wasting your time. Because not all places or pieces are worth it.
We are constantly asked where we find all of our furniture to paint. It’s funny really, because it’s not so much the where, it’s how.
Since starting this furniture painting business back in 2014, we’ve found our fair share of furniture to paint for resell.
We started back in Tucson Arizona, where painting furniture and then selling it was a huge thing. Everyone and their dog was making a quick buck by painting all of this cheap furniture. Well, a lot of people started catching on, and the prices of used furniture went up. But, there were still some people clueless to this hot new trend.
With so many other painters scouring the city for furniture, we had to get creative in finding old furniture.
And then in 2017 we moved to Duluth MN for my husband’s job.
The painted furniture market is about the same here.
And with no contacts, or furniture stash to start with, we had to put our finding skills to the test.
How to Find Old Furniture to Paint
I’m not going to lie. It took us a bit to figure out the best places in this city. But eventually we started to learn where the best places were to find old used furniture that was good quality.
And we certainly learned where we needed to stop wasting our time when it came to finding furniture.
The biggest thing we do, across all of these places, is that we are constantly on the search. We have notifications turned on, and we are always on the look out.
Sometimes there will be a huge influx of pieces available (spring cleaning and getting ready for the winter are some good times), and other times there will literally be only a few pieces available in the area.
In times where there isn’t much, you may have to look a little bit out of the area, or just wait until more people are selling their furniture again.
So here are the top places to find the best used furniture.
*Please Note* Use caution when meeting anyone to buy or sell furniture. If you have a weird feeling about it, it’s not worth it. Always meet in a public place where there are people around, and let someone know where you’re going, who you’re meeting with, and any other information that would be important.
Facebook Marketplace is pretty new to the game, but it’s a great place to find used things. Instead of the old “yard sale” groups on Facebook, I just do a quick search in Facebook Marketplace.
Okay, so back in the beginning, we were constantly on yard sale groups on Facebook, trying to beat others to the latest piece of furniture that someone just posted.
Those same yard sale groups would have clothes, toys, cars, and so many other household items listed. So we would try to search the group for the specific item we were looking for. Like a dresser.
Man that took so much time. And I really don’t recommend doing that anymore, unless you’re hard up for some furniture. Like bad.
Now Facebook has gotten a bit more smart, and if someone posts in a group that you’re in, it will post the item on marketplace where you can see it.
So you shouldn’t have to look into the yard sale groups anymore. But it might be good to still be a part of a few in your area, so then Facebook marketplace can show those items to you.
If you’re looking for some yard sale groups in your area, search Facebook for things like “(your area name) yard sale”, “(your area name) rummage sale”, “buy and sale in (your area name)”, “(your area name) garage sale”, “(your area name) buy sell trade” or a combination of those.
You can also turn notifications on to let you know when something is posted for sale. Just look for the notifications icon under the search bar after you make your search.
Then there is the tried and true Craigslist.
Craigslist has always been a go to for me. I actually bought some of our very first pieces on craigslist from a company who bought and sold hotel furniture. So we ended up buying about 7 of the same exact coffee tables from this person, and we sold all of them pretty quickly.
Craigslist is pretty straight forward. Just type the name of the item you’re looking for, and it will pull up anything that has been listed with that name.
Some people will list multiple things together, so sometimes its best to click on the ads to look through what they are selling. Because sometimes the really good pieces won’t be pictured or mentioned in first picture.
Also, search all of the names that people call that piece of furniture. A dresser can also be found under chest of drawers, chest, bedroom furniture, highboy, nightstand etc. You can even search for misspellings, because people type fast and accidentally spell things wrong. (Yes, I just spelled accidentally wrong, and had to have spell checker fix it for me. haha)
You can also turn on notifications through Craigslist. They will send out emails throughout the day as things are posted under the exact search that you save. To get notifications, just click on “save search” next to the search bar. And then click the box under alert to turn it on.
Friends and Family
It’s always great to enlist the help of family and friends too!
Let them know that you are looking for furniture, and they will probably come to you when they are trying to get rid of it.
Just be careful to not hurt feelings or burn bridges with this. Not everyone wants to just get rid of it. Make sure to offer to pay them what you usually would for it.
And then there are Estate Sales.
These are a little bit more complicated, but totally worth it if you find the right ones.
If you’ve never been to an estate sale, here’s a little run down.
Estate sales usually take place in a person’s home, when that person or family members are trying to sell all of the stuff.
Before they open the doors to the home, they usually start handing out numbers on a first come first serve basis (they start doing this at a specific time before the sale starts, read the ad information to know what that company does). And then once the doors open, they let people into the home in the order of what number they have.
In my experience, most estate sales are on the more expensive side, but a lot of times they have a certain time that most of the leftover items are half off. Sooo those are the best times to go if you’re looking for a deal.
If you know the the estate sale has good prices, then it’s best to go early and get the first pick!
Estate sales usually have the best quality furniture around, so for those looking for good quality, estate sales are where to go.
And of course, thrift stores can be amazing too! I have found a lot of really amazing pieces at Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity Restore and Salvation Army. As well as locally owned thrift shops.
If I have a second when I’m driving past one, I usually stop in to see what they have. But their selection is always changing, and it’s kind of a game of chance.
Some stores will have days where everything is half off! And some stores will discount as they sit for a while. Others will have days where certain tags are half off.
I really like the ones where I can buy it and pick it up within 24 hours. Because I’m not always in a vehicle big enough to pick furniture up. Hello 2 kids in car seats and a small car.
And then there is my favorite. The one that a lot of people don’t know about.
When we lived in Tucson, there was an amazing online auction!
It was ran by the same company that would do estate sales, so they had a ton of stuff every week. Usually they would sell one household of items per week, but sometimes they would have a “warehouse sale” where random things would be listed that week.
They would post pictures of everything, with a little tiny bit of detail, and then the bidding would start at $1.00.
The auction would go for at least a week, and the highest bidder when the auction was over, was the winner. Because it was a hidden gem, we were able to get a ton of pieces on the cheap.
The one downside to it though is that we couldn’t see the pieces in person first. (Actually I think they would allow you to set up a time to see things during the week, but we lived across town, so that never worked for us.) So we would look really hard at the pictures and hope that they weren’t in bad condition where we couldn’t see.
That company went by the name of Caring Transitions Online Auctions (if you want to look it up and see what it’s like).
Where to Stop Wasting your Time
Yard Sale Apps
Now, depending on your area, the best places may vary. I know there are also apps like Varage Sale and Letgo. But in the areas that I’ve lived, I’ve never had luck.
And then of course there are actual yard sales. These can be fun, but they certainly don’t have the best quality furniture, and the furniture is usually hard to find.
We used to go to yard sales all the time, but once I really stepped up my game to only offer quality furniture, we stopped going.
On the Side of the Road
I have never actually found anything decent on the side of the road. I guess I’m not that lucky, or I don’t drive around enough.
But I wouldn’t waste your time looking on the side of the road for a good piece of furniture.
Usually they are broken, bad quality, in terrible shape or all of the above.
If you do happen to be in the right place at the right time, and you spot an amazing quality piece, I would snatch it up. But I wouldn’t be counting on this method.
Now you know all of the places that we look. I didn’t leave one place out.
If you have heard of online auctions, let me know! I’m super curious to see if you have!
Related: What Paint to Use on a Dresser