When it comes to side hustle ideas and ways to make extra money, online opportunities like blogging and affiliate marketing tend to get the most attention. But there are plenty of other opportunities that offer great potential and the possibility to start making money right away.
Flipping used items is a great way to make extra money (see my list of the easiest things to flip for profit). One of the best ways to make money with flipping is to specialize in flipping furniture for profit.
As a furniture flipper, you can take something old and unwanted and turn it into something beautiful and valuable.
What Is Furniture Flipping?
You’ll be buying inexpensive used furniture, fixing it up, and selling it for a profit. The keys to making money are pretty simple and they involve getting the items for as little as possible and selling them for as much as possible.
The first part, finding inexpensive furniture, is easier than you might think. You can find tables, chairs, dressers, desks, hutches, and more at yard sales and flea markets for very low prices. You might even be able to find it for free if someone is just looking to get rid of it. (We’ll cover more details later).
The improvements often involve upcycling by painting solid wood furniture or reupholstering. In either case, you’ll restore it with a completely new look, which will drastically increase its value. Best of all, the work isn’t difficult, you just need to know what to do. And this article will cover those details so you can get started.
Why Flipping Furniture Is a Great Side Hustle
Although there are plenty of side hustle possibilities to choose from, there are several factors that make flipping furniture a great option.
1. Start Making Money Right Away
Some side hustles allow you to start making money right away, and others (like starting a blog) will require some patience before you start to make money. When you’re trying to decide which side hustle is right for you, this is a major factor that you need to consider.
If making money in the short-term is very important, you should focus on a side hustle that allows you that possibility. As a furniture flipper, you can find your first piece and flip it in a matter of days. It’s possible to turn a profit in as little as a week or less.
Thankfully, you don’t need to spend a lot of time building up your business or your audience in order to make your first sale. Platforms like the Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist make it simple to sell your first item.
2. Work on Your Own Schedule
This is a very flexible money-making opportunity that makes it possible to work around your existing schedule. If you have a full-time job, this is something you could do in your free time around your other responsibilities.
Not only are the hours flexible, but you could also put in as much or as little time as you want. When you have the time, you could find a piece and finish it. If you’re busy, you don’t have to be doing anything. And if you have extra time or want to make more money, you could try to find several pieces to flip. It can be whatever you want it to be.
This is also a side hustle that could be done seasonally and dropped when it’s not convenient for you. For example, if you want to find something that allows you to take off for the summer when your kids will be out of school, this could work.
→ Related reading: How to Make Money by Selling Your Stuff
3. Low Start-Up Costs
There is not much that you need to get started (we’ll cover this in more detail below). Just some paint, a paintbrush, and a piece of furniture are all you really need. You don’t need to invest a lot of time or money to get started. Try it out and see how it goes. Without a large investment, you’re not committed to it.
4. Plenty of Opportunity
Old wood furniture is not that hard to find. You may even have a piece or two in your own house or apartment that could allow you to get started. Yard sales, thrift shops, and flea markets are all great places to find furniture. You can also use websites like Craigslist and Facebook.
In addition to finding the furniture, there is also plenty of opportunity in terms of selling. There is a big market for vintage furniture and websites like Facebook make it possible to get enough exposure to easily sell your pieces.
5. Potential to Turn Into Something Bigger Than a Side Hustle
If you have some success with your furniture flipping side hustle and you want to turn it into something bigger, that’s a possibility. Putting more time into it, finding more pieces that are ideal for flipping, learning new techniques, and gaining exposure will make it possible to make more than just a little extra cash. You can also take custom orders to take your business to the next level.
6. Satisfying Work
There is something pretty rewarding about taking an old piece of furniture and upcycling or repurposing it. As a flipper, you’re not only extending the life of a piece of furniture, but you’re also providing your customers with a great piece that will be a part of their home.
7. The Skills Can Be Learned
It doesn’t matter if you have experience or not. The work involved with flipping furniture is not that difficult and can be learned even if you’re starting from scratch. In many cases, you’ll just be painting it. There are plenty of resources to help you get started, and we’ll point you in the right direction.
8. It’s Fun!
On top of all of the other convincing reasons, this side hustle is actually fun for most people. You get to work with your hands and create something beautiful and useful out of something that was previously unwanted. If you sit at a desk all day or take care of kids, you’ll probably love the change of pace.
What Types of Furniture Should I Flip?
One of the biggest keys to success with this side hustle is finding the right items to restore. In order to make a profit, you’ll need to be able to sell it for enough money to offset the amount of time that you devote to the work. Some types of furniture will not bring much value regardless of what you do with it. For this reason, it’s best to focus on solid wood furniture, which will have some value once it is fixed up. Real wood will look better when it’s painted or stained, as compared to particleboard or anything manufactured.
Upholstered furniture, like chairs for example, can also be an excellent option. If you’re able to do the reupholstering yourself, you can significantly increase the value without spending much money at all. It will look almost brand new and turning a profit should be pretty simple.
There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to finding and choosing the pieces. At first, it’s a little bit of a guessing game. But after you’ve done it a few times, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you would do to improve the item and what you might be able to sell it for once it is finished. You’ll also get more familiar with the best places in your area to find inexpensive furniture to buy. And as people learn about what you’re doing, you’ll probably have friends and family reach out to you on a regular basis when they have something that they want to get rid of.
The Best Places For Buying
There are many different ways to find inexpensive used furniture that can be restored and sold for a profit. Yard sales are a great option, partly because prices tend to be low. The downside to yard sales is that they’re seasonal in many locations, so you may need to take advantage of the summer months when yard sales are more common.
Other options include flea markets, thrift stores, estate sales, and auctions. You may also have some luck with Craigslist, the Facebook Marketplace, or other apps. Regardless of where you’re buying, you need to be careful to not overspend, as the amount that you spend on the item will impact how much profit you’re able to make. Always negotiate to get the best price possible and be willing to walk away if you can’t get it for the right price.
You may also be able to find some items for free. It’s hit or miss, but sometimes you can find old furniture that has been put out for the trash. Get to know the trash collection days of the different neighborhoods in your area and drive by the evening before or the morning of pickup to see if anything worthwhile has been put out for trash collection. While getting something for free is great, you don’t want to lower your standards too much. Make sure that it has potential and that you can turn it into something valuable, otherwise it’s not worth your time.
Have a Plan Before Buying
Before you buy a product, make sure that you have a plan for fixing it up and improving the value. If you’re not sure what to do with it, it’s better to pass and keep looking for something else. This is something that you’ll get better at with experience. At first, you may be looking for something that involves simple work like painting. You can also replace hardware very easily to get a much different look. Pinterest can be an excellent source of ideas and inspiration whenever you’re not sure what to do.
What You’ll Need to Get Started
Getting started can be easy and inexpensive, but there are several specific things that you’ll need. Let’s take a look at the details so you can start making money.
The paint that you use will be extremely important. If you use the wrong type of paint, it may start to chip or crack very quickly. Of course, you’ll want your customers to be happy with the items they buy from you, so it’s essential that you use quality paint that works well with wood furniture. While there are a lot of options, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Fusion Mineral Paint are among the best choices.
If you’re going to be doing any upholstery, you’ll also need a sewing machine and a staple gun. However, this isn’t essential when you’re just getting started, so don’t worry about this until you have some experience and you’re comfortable enough to branch out.
Of course, you’ll also need a piece of furniture to work with. When you’re getting started, using something from your home could be the best option, if you have something that’s suitable. You may have an old dresser, armoire, table, or something else that would be a great option. By using something you already have, you won’t have to spend any money and it gives you a chance to have a trial run with nothing to lose. If you like the way it turns out, you could either sell it and use that money to buy other pieces, or keep it for yourself.
How to Restore Wood Furniture
Ok, now that you have your materials, it’s time to take that old piece of furniture and turn it into something special. In many cases, that simply involves painting or staining to give it a new look. Paint is popular and slightly easier to work with when you’re just getting started, so we’ll cover the steps involved for painting
- Step 1: Remove any old paint – If the piece had been painted in the past, you’ll need to completely remove the paint before adding new paint. The best way to do this is to use a heat gun to soften the paint, which can then be removed easily with a scraper. Any remaining paint that can be scraped off can be removed with paint thinner or sanded off.
- Step 2: Smooth the wood by sanding it – Once the paint is removed, you’ll need to prepare the wood for the new paint. Get it nice and smooth by sanding it as well as possible.
- Step 3: Paint – Next, you’re ready to paint. Be sure to check the label of the specific paint you’re using and follow the directions. Depending on the paint you use, you may need to use a sealer or topcoat (this is the case with chalk paint).
Here are some videos that can help with these steps.
How to Reupholster Furniture
Reupholstering can be a great way to maximize your income potential, but it’s a more advanced technique. If you’re just getting started, sticking with painting is recommended, but when you’re ready to try something new, you may want to tackle a reupholstering project. Here are a few different videos that can help with the process.
Where to Sell Your Furniture
Now that your work is done and you’re ready to sell it, you’ll have several options. Here are some of the best places to sell your items.
- Facebook Marketplace – It’s free to list and sell items on Facebook and the marketplace provides plenty of exposure to people in your local area. This is usually the fastest, easiest way to get something sold.
- Facebook fan page – If flipping furniture for profit is something you plan to continue doing in the future, it’s worth the effort to start and grow your own Facebook fan page for the business. People can follow you and whenever you have something to sell, you can list it on your fan page.
- Craigslist – Craigslist is another free option for selling to people in your local area, and there are plenty of buyers searching and browsing Craigslist every day.
- eBay – You’ll have fees for selling on eBay, plus you’ll have to deal with shipping the item. These extra hassles might be something you want to avoid when you’re getting started, but ultimately eBay allows you to reach a much larger market.
- OfferUp – OfferUp is an app that allows you to sell to people in your local area, so no shipping is involved.
For convenience, selling to people in your local area is best. Shipping furniture will not only add extra work, but you’ll also have to be careful to ensure that it’s packed well enough to prevent any damage during transport. This is probably something that you won’t want to deal with when you’re first getting started, so selling locally can be a much more practical option.
If you’re selling locally, you’ll need to decide if you want to offer delivery or if your customers will need to pick it up from you. With access to a truck, van, or vehicle that you could use, you may be able to charge an additional fee for delivery.
The Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are both excellent options since there is no cost to list or sell your products, and in both cases you can reach plenty of people who are looking to buy. A Facebook fan page or even starting your own website is a good next step when you decide you’re ready for the next step and if you want to build a business.
How To Price Your Furniture
Knowing how much to ask for your items is probably the most difficult part of the entire process. But don’t worry, once you get a little bit of experience it will become much easier. Since your goal is to make money, you’ll need to consider everything you’ve spent getting the item ready to sell. This includes:
- The cost you paid for the item
- Any shipping or transport costs
- The cost of paint and all supplies used in the rehab
- Any costs related to marketing or selling (like eBay fees)
Anything that you make over this amount will be profit, but you’ll also want to consider the amount of time you’ve put into the project. Assign an hourly rate to your time and add that to the costs listed above. Here is an example scenario:
- Table purchased for $20
- Another $40 spend on supplies to fix it up
- 4 hours of time at $30 per hour (total of $120 for your time)
In this scenario, the cost adds up to $180. If you’re able to sell the table for $180, you will have made $30 per hour. Selling it for more will increase your profit.
While this is a helpful approach, it doesn’t necessarily indicate the true value of the item. If you overpaid for the item or if it took you a really long time to do the work, you may not be able to sell it for a high enough price to cover your costs. Likewise, there will be times when an item can be sold for much more than the amount you’ve calculated.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to check out the listing prices of other similar items. Browse the Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to see what other people are asking for items that are similar to yours. This could give you a much better feel for the real value. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at pricing your items.
You can also keep in mind how eager you are to sell the item. If you’re in no rush to sell it and you want to maximize the amount that you make, you can be more aggressive with your pricing. And if you’d like to sell it as fast as possible, you may want to go with a lower asking price.
Tips For Success
We’ve covered all of the basic steps involved in the process of flipping furniture for profit, but now let’s take a look at a few tips that can help you to have success and maximize your earning potential.
Always Look For Items (and Negotiate)
Finding the right pieces is essential to your success, and it can also be one of the most challenging parts of this side hustle if you’re looking to move a high volume. Get in the habit of always keeping your eyes and ears open. While you can turn to yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets, you may also come across some great products in other ways. Keep your eyes open for items that may be out on the curb to be taken with the trash. Also, let your friends, family members, and neighbors know that you’re always interested and people may start coming to you when they’re looking to get rid of something.
When you find something worth buying, be sure to negotiate and try to get the best price possible. Every dollar that you save on the purchase price will be an extra dollar of profit that you make when you sell the finished piece.
Take Great Photos
Photos are essential for selling your items. You don’t need to be a professional photographer, but you do need to put in some effort and learn to take effective photos. Essentially, you want to stage the item for photos. Show it in a room just like it would be in someone’s home. Make sure there is no clutter in the background of your pictures, and take them in the best light possible. Check out the video below for some excellent tips.
Write Compelling Descriptions
The written descriptions of your listed items will also be important. Remember that you’re trying to sell the item! Don’t downplay it. Be sure to tell people why it’s an amazing piece and why they’ll love it.
Build Your Own Audience
While it’s not 100% essential, building your own audience can be extremely helpful. If you have people who follow you, you’ll be able to reach targeted potential buyers any time you have something to sell. You’ll increase your chances of selling products quickly, and you’re also likely to increase the amount of money that you can get. A Facebook fan page is a great option since it’s free and easy to set up. Starting your own website and building an email list will give you more control, but it will also take more time and effort.
Provide Amazing Customer Service
Word-of-mouth advertising is extremely important, so be sure that you’re providing an excellent experience for customers. Some of your customers may wind up buying multiple items from you, and they’re also likely to tell their friends.
Consider Custom Orders
Another way that you can optionally grow your business is to accept custom orders. Rather than simply fixing up whatever items you happen to find and then listing them for sale, you would be working on a product for a specific customer. The customer may supply you with a piece to restore, or they may ask you to find a particular item for them. Finding exactly what they want can be a challenge, so some people prefer to avoid custom orders just for simplicity. However, if you’re looking to maximize your income, this could be a good option.
Interview With a Successful Flipper
I’m happy to be able to include an interview with an experienced flipper, Virginia. Virginia is a stay-at-home mom to 4 daughters, and she has a lot of experience with flipping furniture. She and her sister have a Facebook page Lil’ Rustique Elegance where they sell furniture.
Virginia was kind enough to answer my questions. You’ll find her responses below, and if you’re considering a furniture flipping side hustle I’m sure you will love this insight.
How did you get started flipping furniture for profit?
“I’m a stay-at-home mom of four so I’ve always been trying to find one way or another to make extra cash from home! My sister heard about flipping furniture from someone and thought she’d give it a shot.
“She actually did really well right away, so naturally, this piqued my interest!
“I was a little nervous the first time I found a piece of furniture to flip. It was just a small antique entryway table that I painted white, distressed…and it sold in a few hours.
“From that sale on, I was completely hooked!”
→ Related reading: How to Start a Side Hustle
What types of furniture do you look for?
“I look for anything that is unique, real wood, and preferably old! I prefer smaller pieces, like nightstands, small dressers, sofa tables…stuff like that. I tend to avoid previously painted pieces and furniture that needs a lot of work because that tends to cut down on my profits in the end.”
Where are your favorite places to buy furniture to flip?
“Most furniture I find on Facebook garage sale pages. Sometimes I will look up garage sales to go to, but with 4 kids in tow, it’s just easier to hunt online!”
How much time do you spend looking for the right pieces?
“It really depends. Generally, it doesn’t take me more than a couple of days to find a cool piece of furniture if I’m really trying, but sometimes there just isn’t anything exciting for sale. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy whenever you see a good deal so you always have inventory.”
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What type of work do you typically do to the pieces that you’re flipping?
“The most I have to do before painting is cleaning. I clean the pieces really well, and then if it’s a really shiny wood I will scuff it up with sandpaper before painting, that gives the paint something to grip on to. I use good quality furniture paints that can be applied over previously finished surfaces without needing to completely sand down to bare wood.”
How/where do you sell the furniture once you are done with it?
“My sister and I have a Facebook business page where we sell all our pieces. When our page was still small we would also post on our local garage sale pages. Now that our page has lots of followers we don’t need to post our finished pieces anywhere else!”
→ Related reading: Selling Apps: 17 Apps and Websites to Help You Sell Your Stuff
When you were first getting started, did you have trouble knowing how to price your finished pieces?
“Absolutely! That’s one of the most difficult parts when you first start flipping. You want to make a profit but you’re afraid to price too high. We took a course that helped us learn to price to make real profit. I still get a little nervous with custom pieces when I send the customer my quote. I think it’s just learning to be confident in the worth of your work and realizing that people pay good money for quality!”
→ Related reading: 40 Exciting Hobbies That Make Money
Do you deliver the furniture?
“Yes, we offer delivery, but we charge for it. Customers love the service and it really opens up our business to so many more people who wouldn’t have a way to pick up the furniture themselves.”
What skills do you think someone should have if they want to make money flipping furniture?
“Honestly, I would never have thought I would be good at flipping furniture. I didn’t consider myself very creative or artistic. Anyone can start flipping furniture. I believe it’s an art that can be learned with practice. Everything I learned about painting furniture was from YouTube tutorials and following people who were doing it. I do think that to be successful you need to be concerned about consistently producing excellent quality work, figuring out what people are looking for, and build good relationships with your customers so they keep coming back.”
What mistakes have you made along the way?
“Oh boy, where to start! Multiple times starting over on a piece because I didn’t take the proper steps before painting it and it ended up with bleed through or other issues. We used to not have customers sign a contract and at times I would end up doing extra work for customers free of charge on account of that. I’ve tried painting a piece without taking out the drawers to save time and ended up gluing the drawers shut when the paint dried. I could go on and on!”
What supplies, equipment, and tools are needed?
“To get started, all you need is a good quality paint brush, furniture paint, and a piece of furniture! As you start to learn new paint techniques you’ll probably end up buying special products that help with antiquing, glaze, waxing, distressing…etc, but you really don’t need a lot of special tools to get started.”
How much money do you think someone should have on hand to get started?
“Like I said above, if you can afford a good paintbrush, some paint, and a piece of furniture, you have enough money to start your business. I’d say $100 – $150 would be more than enough.”
What do you love about flipping furniture, and what do you dislike about it?
“Flipping furniture is extremely rewarding. There is a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in turning something boring and unattractive into something that makes people go “wow!!”. It’s also really therapeutic for me, it’s the one “adult” thing I do that’s for me, and what mom doesn’t need that?!
“There really isn’t much to dislike about it, but if I have to say something, it would be the unexpected issues that arise from a piece that was supposed to be a super easy project. I like to be able to start a piece and finish without fixing anything, but it doesn’t always go that way.”
Thank you to Virginia for taking the time to answer these questions and provide so much insight on this side hustle. Below I’d like to share some of my own thoughts about the opportunity of flipping furniture and summarize the basic steps if you are interested in getting started.
Yes, it can be profitable as long as you are buying the right types of items. Solid wood furniture is usually the best option because it can be resold at a good price after it is fixed up.
The amount you earn will vary depending on a lot of factors, but making a few hundred dollars per month is extremely realistic, and you might be able to achieve that right away. Some people who continue to grow their business are able to earn a full-time income.
The Facebook Marketplace is one of the best options because your items will get plenty of visibility. Craigslist is also a good option for selling to people in your local area. By selling locally, you won’t need to deal with shipping.
The best options are solid wood furniture or items that can be reupholstered. Real wood will look better when painted or stained, as compared to particleboard or MDF. You can work with tables, chairs, desks, dressers, armoires, end tables, hutches, and all different types of furniture.
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