11 Ways to Find Cheap Furniture & Other Stuff to Paint or Up Cycle

In DIY, Refinishing, Upcycle projects by DanLeave a Comment

When it comes time to find a new piece to make over, or materials for making something, there are a lot of places to look besides the high priced stores. Here are some ideas for ways to find cheap furniture and other stuff for your next project.

1. Craigslist
Craigslist is a great place to start to find cheap furniture and other things. You can be as general or as specific in your search as you want. Are you looking for shelving, or a table, maybe a buffet? Not a problem. Looking for free, or less than $20, again, no problem. Craigslist allows you to filter for the things you want to see. There are specific sections for free, or for sale, as well as searching by subject. You can select the city, maybe Cincinnati, or at least the general area you are looking in (the state of Wyoming?). In the case of a large area, you can search for the town, or suburb by adding the name to the description.

Be patient and persistent, searching Craigslist frequently, will allow you to find the best deals before they are gone. I recently found an ad for a cherry china hutch for $20, and picked it up that night! (Watch for the refinishing details in a future post!) Tonight I found a nice dresser for $25, as well as a wide selection of new and used hardwood lumber.
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If your plan is to resell the piece, make sure you’ve done your homework. How much to you plan to sell it for? How much are the materials going to cost you? Is there enough profit left for it to be worth while? If it’s for your own use, then the “deal” is in what you find.

Search through the free section and watch for “curb alerts”, which means, just like it says, it’s out on the curb, first come first serve.

2. Facebook
In many areas of the country Craigslist has become the best place to sell things, advertise garage sales and get rid of “stuff”. However,Facebook has been a place to sell things for a long time, and is growing in popularity, and they recently added improvements to their pages for selling. In the search bar type “for sell” in “name your town.” Its an alternative to Craigslist and ebay that is gaining popularity as a way to find cheap furniture.

love seat

3. Flea markets & swap meets-
I really like flea markets and swap meets for finding unusual items. I have bought cigar boxes for making guitars, tables, lamps and much more. I recently purchased a vintage Kalashnikov rifle shipping crate (trunk) for $40. Right now its a coffee table in the man cave. Keep your eye out for old tools or collectibles. We are looking forward to the “endless garage sale” this year, as we now live right along its path. Go early and take your time, there is always a lot to see.

4. Yard/garage sales –
Garage sales are another great place to find just about anything. Have cash in hand and be prepared to negotiate the price. Look for these on Craigslist, Facebook and the local papers. Start your day early, as the best deals go fast. Circle back at the end of the day, since no one wants to take the left overs back in the house. You can get great deals on larger items, sometimes even for free.

5. Auctions (estate, locker, …)
Search the internet to find your local auction houses. Some have their own buildings and have sales every week or two, others will set up at fair grounds. If its an estate sale, they frequently set up in the yard of the home. The nice thing about auctions, is that you get a chance to look everything over, do some research with your smart phone, and decide what you want to pay for things. The down side is when someone decides to bid you up. I have bought furniture, collectibles, tools and woodworking equipment this way many times.

6. Peddlers malls, antique stores, consignment and thrift stores
These are in every town, and there are usually several, with different price points. Don’t be afraid to search them. In my area, there are lower priced stores in the surrounding towns, that end up selling things to the vendors closer to the town center. Both make money, but if you figure out where the big boys are buying things, you can save yourself a lot.



Look for the unusual and items that can be remade. For example, this is the base of an old porch post, that I will be making into a side table. Purchased for $8.00 at an indoor peddlers mall.
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7. Goodwill/Salvation Army stores
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With frequent turnover and low prices, these are always a great place to search. Come often, and keep your eyes out. Bring cash, and remember, if its any good, it’ll be gone quickly. Both of these were on sale for about $40.
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8. Habitat for Humanity Restore
When people remodel their homes, they often donate their old furnishings (cabinets, doors, windows, light fixtures,…) at a Habitat for Humanity store. This is a great place to find the makings for a new piece. The prices are very good, and the money goes to help build new houses.

9. Freecycle
This is a website where anyone can post their “junk”. This is another one you need to watch frequently, and sort through a lot of “stuff”

10. Curbside
Yup, things get put on the curb, and if you are there at the right time, you can snatch them up. I have found dressers, old tables and chairs this way.

11. Friends/family
Once your friends and family find out that you are refinishing things, they will call you when they want to get rid of something. I have picked up high end bed frames, office furniture and other goodies from co-workers and neighbors. Again, the price is right and even if you don’t want some of the items, you can usually dispose of them yourself (hopefully making a few dollars).

Well there’s my list. What did I miss? Drop me a line and let me know if you’ve found more sources for your projects.

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