I’ve been re-doing old, cast-off furniture for about 7 years now. It all started as an affordable way for my husband and I to furnish our home. Then, I discovered that other people were interested in the pieces I had painted, so I decided to try my hand at making money painting furniture.
I’ve sold painted furniture at flea markets, antique malls, off Craigslist, Ebay, and Facebook. I even held a weekend long “Cottage Sale” in our backyard.
Now, I have a nice little “permanent” space at a great antique mall up in McKinney, Texas where I can easily showcase the pieces I have for sale. It’s a fun hobby, and has also been a profitable business for me.
Many things in the furniture painting world have changed though in the past 7 years. One of the biggest is the advent of time-saving furniture paints like Milk Paint, Chalk Paint, (or my favorite Fusion Mineral Paint).
Add to that the creation of Pinterest and the never-ending inspiration it provides, it seems like everybody and their brother is now trying their hand at furniture-flipping!
As a result of this boom, it’s getting harder to turn a good profit at this business as the supply of good old furniture dwindles and competition from other furniture painters grows.
So, if you are thinking of making money painting furniture I have a few tips to share about how to maximize the money that winds up in your pocket.
TIP #1 Set your Maximum Buying Prices
Before you can sell a piece of furniture, you have to buy one. But the prices to buy and the prices to sell can vary depending on where you live.
Every part of the country is different, so it’s a good idea to take some time to get to know your own local market before you begin buying and selling.
- How deep is the supply of good quality old furniture for you to buy?
- And more importantly, how much are people around you willing to pay for painted pieces?
Your local supply and demand needs to determine what you pay for a piece to re-do.
My goal is to price my finished pieces 2-3 times what they cost me.
After being in my area for five years now, I know what I can sell a dresser, chest of drawers, and dining set for.
I also have a maximum price that I will spend on any of those pieces. I will not pay over $75 for a chest of drawers, over $100 for a dresser, or over $125 for a dining set.
Here in suburban Texas, our local supply of old furniture is pretty thin, so my max prices may be higher than what you might be able to pay.
Having that maximum price though keeps me from getting “Craigslist crazy” and jumping on any piece that’s out there.
Be patient. Take time to find a deal.
TIP #2 Invest in Tools, Not Toys
This post contains links to sites outside of LostandFoundDecor.com. All product links are provided for your convenience and comply with all affiliate program rules and regulations.
There are certain products I need in order to do quality work with my painted pieces. At the most basic level, those are really only 2 things:
- A good quality orbital sander
- A good quality paint brush.
There are loads of products out there though being sold by furniture paint providers which I have not purchased, simply because I find them unnecessary.
Now, let me be clear–I am a faithful boutique brand paint user, and am frequently asked why I pay $20 – $40 for a quart of paint when I can get cheap “oops” latex paint to use for 1/4 that cost at Home Depot.
My answer is that I see my furniture paint as a tool–it saves me great amounts of time and works excellently for my projects.
So I will gladly spend the money for the paint, but I do not always buy the accessory paint brushes, wax brushes, stencils, buffing pads, pearl paint, tiny little mixers, plastic lid covers with spouts, etc.
So if you’re just starting out, there is no need to buy everything offered by your local furniture paint retailer–and I am a retailer myself!
As your business grows and you have greater capital, you can purchase some of those things later that you find fun or helpful.
As my business has grown over the years, I have purchased more of those accessory products and really enjoy using many of them. But they were not essential to my business when I was first starting out.
TIP #3 Curb your Paint Enthusiasm
Speaking of paint . . . I do love and regularly use chalk paint and Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. But at $25-$40 a quart, let’s be honest, this stuff is expensive!
(update April 2020, I now prefer to use Fusion Mineral Paint. I find it produces excellent results for a more affordable price, and it requires no wax…yes you heard me…no waxing required. If you’re interested, you can see my step-by-step comparison of Chalk Paint vs Fusion here. But if you’re a die-hard Chalk Paint fan, my preference is Jolie chalk paint. Out of all the chalk paint brands, I’ve enjoyed using this one the most.
One way I have found to help my bottom line is to use my paint wisely.
I don’t go out and get a new can of paint every time I buy a new piece, but rather I always try to use the paint I have on hand first before purchasing new.
MIX PAINT COLORS TO MAKE THEM GO FARTHER
It’s so fun to look on Pinterest and get creative with new colors and techniques, but paint costs can really add up!
So instead I mix colors I have on hand to come up with new colors to try.
I also keep a can of Annie Sloan Pure White and Old White on hand, to tint any other chalk paint I have to a new shade.
Thinning your chalk paint with water also helps the paint last longer, and I have found that it still provides perfectly good coverage (I do not thin Fusion Mineral Paint with water).
DRY BRUSHING USES LESS PAINT
Another technique for saving paint is to try dry brushing a project.
When dry brushing, you hardly use any paint, so it’s a great way to use up that last little bit hanging out in the can, and, it creates beautiful effects!
CUSTOM PROJECTS HELP BUILD YOUR PAINT SUPPLY
Lastly, I use my custom work projects as a way to build up my personal paint supply.
When painting a custom piece for someone, I build the cost of paint into the price I charge. Typically, I have plenty of paint left over after their furniture is finished. When this happens, your paint collection can grow a little at a time, rather than costing a fortune from the start.
I hope that these strategies may help you as you try to launch out into selling painted furniture.
I wanted to offer simple, practical tips, but also want to say that it’s important to find your own creative “voice”.
Be unique, offer pieces that are different than what’s out there. Try new techniques, and maybe get creative with hand-painting.
Trust your creative instincts, and someone will come along who appreciates your unique vision and style!
UPDATE – I’ve learned a few more things in the last year and recently wrote another post with 5 More Tips for Making Money Selling Furniture.
Hope it helps you go a little further in turning your creations into meaningful profit!
Sign Up & Share
If you found this information helpful, please sign up to be a Lost & Found subscriber! You will receive all my updates right in your inbox and never miss post.
Also, if you think your furniture painting friends would find this helpful, I’d be honored if you’d share the love where ever you typically share things (Facebook, Pinterest, Email).
PIN THIS RESOURCE PAGE!
Linking up to: Silver Pennies Sundays , Nifty Thrifty Sundays, Dwellings–The Heart of your Home, Mod Mix Monday, Project Inspired, Inspire Me Tuesdays, The Scoop, Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays, History & Home Party
This post contains links to affiliate programs in which of LostandFoundDecor.com participates.
Thursday 22nd of September 2016
Hi Melanie, I'm just starting out, like you I refurnished my home painting up bargain pieces I sourced, and I've decided to try to and turn it into my business. But, there's a lot to learn...your blog looks like a fantastic place to pick up tips. Thank you, I'm going to keep you bookmarked! :-)
Collectibles: Some Common Investment Characteristics That Should Be Considered | Sociable Info
Saturday 6th of August 2016
[…] setting, whilst an antique mirror will add a touch of glamour and mystery to any room. Some people buy antique furniture in the hopes of selling it sometime in the future; but then again, this business is rather challenging. Nothing can guarantee […]
How To Start Your Own Furniture Painting Business - eBook
Friday 22nd of January 2016
[…] most-read posts are those that deal with the topic of running your own furniture makeover business: Tips for Making Money Painting Furniture, Do’s and Don’s of Painting Furniture, 5 More Tips to Make Money Painting […]
Thursday 20th of August 2015
Melanie, your advices are so important and on time! I am seriously thinking about my own restore/painting furniture business here in Spain. I have taken note of all of them, thank you! Take care, Anne.
Thursday 17th of September 2015
That's so fun! I never thought my blog would reach Spain, thanks for stopping in :)
Wednesday 11th of February 2015
Hi Melanie- I have refinished furniture and kitchen cabinets many years ago but enjoyed it. Had an article in our local paper about chalk painting and it sounds interesting. What is the best way to get started and learn the technique? Are there web sights to go to or videos like youtube? I also have a question about an old piece I have. I refinished it several years ago with tongue oil. The wood really has an odor to it like an old smell. Think the piece is oak but not sure. My question is there a way to get the odor out of the wood? Also, could it be the tongue oil breaking down? Thank you so much. Mike
Thursday 19th of February 2015
Hi Mike! Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I don't have any insight into your smelly tongue oil issue. Have you tried setting it outside in the sun to "air-out"? Or setting some bowls of white vinegar inside the drawers or cabinets for a bit to soak up the odor? I have found those two things helpful with old-smelling pieces. About the chalk paint, there are many, many bloggers and YouTube videos out there walking through the chalk paint method. If you are already familiar with painting and refinishing furniture, chalk paint won't be a big leap for you. If you have a local chalk paint retailer, you can also check with them to see if they teach workshops. Many of them do. Good luck to you!