How To Find FREE Furniture
As you may know, I love rescuing free furniture and decor that is heading for the landfill. Many people have asked me just how I do it.
How on earth do I always find such great pieces absolutely free?
The absolute truth is, it's a bit of luck and a bit more work. Weather you are doing this to furnish your home or flip furniture to sell you have to make an effort; think of this effort as the cost of your new free furniture!
Where to start
The easiest thing to do is browse Craigslist Free Stuff section. Although, this is very dependent on your area. Some places have almost no listings. Generally speaking, living near a metro area or large city will increase your odds.
This may sound a bit silly, but you really never know when you are going to find free furniture you love. Having a kit in the car with items you most likely already own will save you from the sad drive home with an empty vehicle because you couldn't make it work. Below is a list of items I carry. There are affiliate links for your convenience, please see my disclosure page for more information.
- Screwdriver with different bits - you can deconstruct furniture or remove valuable hardware.
- Hammer (if a piece is too big you can pop a few nails out and carefully deconstruct it just enough to fit)
- Towels - to wipe things down and secure items
- Blankets - place between glass items like antique windows
- Spray disinfectant
- Hand sanitizer
- Cardboard box - to place under the furniture or between pieces.
- Air Duster in a Can - spray bottoms of furniture and tight spaces to blow away excess dust as well as any spider webs.
- Pepper Spray - You know because craigslist can be sketchy. Though, I have never had to use mine.
My Craigslist tips
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
- Never go into a person's home. Porch pick up or curbside pick up is your best bet (and having someone else with you).
- It really is all about timing! You have to check regularly because the good stuff won't last. The best days for me are usually Sunday and Monday mornings. Weekdays are great if you are free because many people will be working so you are competing against far fewer people.
- If it's a curbside pick up and the address is listed, go right away. Because now you are competing with anyone on Craigslist and anyone who may be driving by.
This one can be a bit humbling, but well worth it. I personally don't dig through dumpsters, just look at what is beside them. Though, I know many Junkin' Sisters from the Tribe who are brave enough.
- First, check any city or county ordinances to insure its legal to take things from the curbside trash.
- Secondly, if the homeowner is outside just politely ask if they mind if you take it. I have had a few puzzled looks, but never a no! Almost always a "sure, do you need help loading it?"
- Finally, be respectful! Do not block driveways, make a lot of noise, leave a mess behind or anything else that might get the cops called on you the next time they spot your vehicle out front. People typically do not mind you taking what they believe to be trash, but they do mind if you are not considerate of them and their neighbors.
So how does it work?
I live in a medium sized town and each neighborhood has a different trash day Monday-Friday and the trucks start picking up at 8:30 am (give or take). I drove around the different neighborhoods and noted what day that particular neighborhood has trash pick up. You may be able to call the trash company or go online for a schedule.
- Once you visit each neighborhood a few times you will learn what kind of stuff each neighborhood puts out and how much. However, Some neighborhoods will have nothing for weeks, then it will be like treasure the next.
- In my experience, nicer newer neighborhoods put far less on the curb for trash pick up, but when they do it usually very nice furniture and decor.
- Middle class neighborhoods are where the majority of my finds come from. I generally have at least a few decent finds every week.
- Older established neighborhoods are great for vintage furniture (which will almost always require work, but hey it's free)
What to Pick and What to Pass
When it comes to pickin' not all trash is treasure! Free does not always mean you have scored! Always inspect items prior to putting them in your vehicle!
- Solid wood can almost always be repaired and repainted or stained. Solid pieces have an intrinsic value that laminate pieces do not. Look for dove tailed drawers, as well as the bottom, back panels and weight to gage if it's solid and well built.
- Particle board I typically always pass unless it's in perfect condition. The reason being, that you may put more money into repairing it than it's value. Additionally, its not always possible to repair.
- Upholstered furniture Now if you have looked through my Future Projects page then you know I find a lot of free upholstered items, you just have to be careful.
- Check for any bugs!
- Try to determine age (if it has holes for screws (think IKEA self assembly furniture) then it's probably not worth repairing.
- Sit it on a flat surface and ensure it's structurally sound. If you are confident in your woodworking abilities grab it, if not just pass it up.
- Spray with disinfectant (before putting it into your vehicle) and then leave it in the garage or outside of your home before you remove the upholstery for at least a few weeks.
- Furniture you don't need or want, but is in decent shape - I hate to see these things headed to the landfill, so I will pick them up and then drop off at the local Salvation Army. Just because I don't need it doesn't mean someone else doesn't. You can also use the receipt for tax purposes. It may not make a huge difference, but over time it may cover some of your gas cost.
What to avoid
- I kind of touched on this above, but free particle board furniture is rarely worth it.
- Newer (IKEA-esk) furniture, not that I am knocking IKEA, but you don't want to put more money into a piece of furniture than it's worth.
- Upholstered furniture with bugs! I feel like I don't really need to say this, but just to be thorough I am including it.
Bartering in 2017
After some time browsing local buy and sell sites you will learn who deals in used furniture. So, build a rapport with them and when you see a piece that is perfect, but not in your budget ask them if there is anything in particular they are looking for (for the business) and see if you have it saved from your free furniture pickin'.
For example, I know a local woman who flips and sells furniture. Her style is pretty specific, usually french provincial or shabby chic, so when I noticed she had an untouched/not refinished dining set (you can see the refinished chairs here) listed for over a month with very little action I offered her a french provencial dresser I picked up for free in exchange for the set she wanted to get off of her hands. I delivered and picked up within 24 hours!
So appeal to their taste and offer something they typically work with for the best results.
I know that was a long post. But, FREE furniture is great and I wanted to share as many of my tips as possible!
If you have any tips or questions be sure to leave a comment and I will personally respond to each one! Thanks so much for reading!