Author Topic: Used Furniture- What's your limit?  (Read 15902 times)

onehappypanda

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Used Furniture- What's your limit?
« on: July 22, 2012, 08:52:59 AM »
I can't recall if this has been discussed already, but I'm wondering what some of you think about the issue of buying used furniture. I've never been squicky about used things- I grew up with mostly hand-me-down or thrift store clothes and household stuff, and for years my limits were basically: no used mattresses unless I knew who they came from, and no used underwear. My first apartment was furnished out of relatives' basements and yard sales, I got my first couch off of the curb (and it was the most comfortable couch ever). I've never had an issue with used furniture.

That said, bedbugs are on the rise in my area so I've found myself rethinking my used furniture limits. I know more than one person now who has ended up with bedbugs from dragging in a dumpster couch that looked "clean". Exterminating bedbugs isn't easy (or cheap), and I've been told that the sanitation they do at thrift stores often isn't enough. I'd like to think that someone wouldn't sell a piece of furniture on craigslist if they had an infestation, but you never know. The whole thing has has me rethinking used furniture, at least things like headboards and couches, anything that people sit on for a long time as they can get infested.

The boyfriend and I have gone back and forth on this because we'd like to get a couch for our new place to replace the hellaciously uncomfortable (albeit free) futon we have now. We can't afford a new couch, we could probably swing a new futon mattress or just deal with the current one, but the nicer looking couches at some of the local thrift stores (or on craigslist) are tempting. That said, we don't want to bring home critters, especially for something we could live without. But part of me thinks that with a thorough visual inspection, we'd probably be fine.

Thoughts? Is there a way to effectively avoid bugs while still buying used? What seems "safer": buying from a thrift store or consignment shop that sanitizes, buying from an individual, or is nothing really safe?  Are we just being paranoid about the bug thing?

MooreBonds

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Re: Used Furniture- What's your limit?
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2012, 09:56:25 AM »
I furnished a good bit of my house with Craigslist finds: dining room table/chairs, dining room buffet, side tables, pool table, lamps, even a bedroom set (sans mattress).

My off-limits would be couches/mattresses/chairs (basically, anything that has hidden areas with upholstery that bugs could hide in). My dining room chairs have an open bottom and small upholstery area for bugs to hide - plus, they were used so infrequently at the nice house I bought them from, bed bugs likely wouldn't be living in a dining room chair - so it wasn't an "ick" factor with that....although I still wiped everything down with a mild bleach solution before bringing it into the house.

I love shopping around for deals, so the few extra bucks it cost me to buy some items "new" (sometimes scratch n dent/clearance sales from retailers, or simply a low-priced model) was worth the peace of mind knowing that I minimized the likelihood of bringing home some invading bugs.

amyable

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Re: Used Furniture- What's your limit?
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2012, 10:12:24 AM »
I have a hand-me-down sofa and armchair that lived in my parents barn for a few years.  They were purchased at Ethan Allen and are amazing quality. 

Obviously after being in a barn, they needed to be reupholstered.  There is a really cheap upholsterer in my town who is just starting his business, and I only payed about $350 for materials and labor.  I kept the fabric costs low with simple white canvas, and I ended up with two very substantial pieces for very little.  I'm in a rural area, so YMMV.

On less complicated upholstery projects, I just do the work myself.  I recovered the seats of my dining room chairs which were really ugly.  I don't think I could deal with sleeping on someone else's mattress though, unless I knew the previous owners.
 

totoro

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Re: Used Furniture- What's your limit?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2012, 10:41:23 AM »
I agree that bedbugs are changing the used furniture market.  I travel a lot for work and I also worry about the hotel rooms for this reason because bedbugs are really annoying and expensive and difficult to get rid of once you have them in your home.  They can live ages without food.

In my case, I have a lot of furniture that is second-hand.  Going forward I would still buy a second hand sofa but I would ask about bedbugs first and look it over carefully.   

It used to be really common in Montreal when they had their "big garbage" days for students to furnish their places this from street finds.  I think this is a really bad idea now given the bedbug population explosion.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 11:45:02 AM by totoro »

kolorado

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Re: Used Furniture- What's your limit?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2012, 10:49:49 AM »
I have no "ick" limits with furniture or clothing except that it not be from a the home of a smoker. My kids even have secondhand underwear. I've bought and used secondhand cloth diapers, clothes, bedsheets & blankets, handkerchiefs, hats, bras and shoes as well as almost all our furniture. Hot water, soap, bleach and sunshine kills almost every type of bug and germ. My son even has a used mattress. I wouldn't buy a used mattress but this one was free. If there had been a bug issue we'd be out nothing to throw it away.
The only limits I have now are that I would not again buy used swimsuits, bras or sneakers. These items can be worn-in specific to the previous owner without showing any perceptible sign of wear. And they will quickly become uncomfortable or harmful to the second owner.
I've been a secondhand shopper all my life. I would trust, and have trusted, a carefully inspected couch at a thrift store over a couch on craigslist and here's why. It's been my experience that thrift stores will not spend a lot of time trying to sell poor goods. They do a cursory check and if it's not in very good shape it goes in the dumpster. Having an employee spend an hour treating stains and vacuuming any evidence of bugs for a proposed sale of $50 isn't well worth it when there are plenty of very good couches already donated for sale. On craigslist you're dealing with one seller with only one couch. He obviously wants the money and will spend as much time as needed to make his item attractive to a buyer. He has no other stock. It's a situation that puts a buyer at a disadvantage.

sideways8

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Re: Used Furniture- What's your limit?
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2012, 07:27:43 PM »
I recently bought a second hand leather couch. It's so much better than what I had before. There's no way I was going to get a brand new one since I have pets... but I strongly desired something that wasn't stinky and wasn't a total hair magnet. I would definitely do it again. It took a long time to find exactly what I was looking for and it was worth the wait.

catalana

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Re: Used Furniture- What's your limit?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2012, 03:20:49 PM »
I think I've had second-hand of most things except a sofa.  To be honest I wouldn't seek out a second-hand sofa or bed but have somehow inherited a bed via OH, and it is actually really comfortable!  Normally my soft furnishings limit would be things I could properly clean (curtains, bedding).

I happily take in pre-loved timber furniture (including a much loved chair from a skip) but do remember to watch out for woodworm!

Adventine

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Re: Used Furniture- What's your limit?
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2012, 12:41:01 AM »
I feel that buying new items combined with proper, regular maintenance is a far better choice than buying used. I don't have to worry about bedbugs or hidden damage or whatever other nasty surprises the former owners might have left behind.

My family buys furniture brand new, but we make sure to take extremely good care of everything. That's how most of our furniture and appliances have lasted 10 years or more. Heck, we had a rice cooker that lasted us 25 years before it finally gave up the ghost.

So, OP, if you're really concerned about bugs and whatnot, you may want to consider buying brand new (but, of course, at deep discounts).

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: Used Furniture- What's your limit?
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2012, 03:31:34 PM »
I have and have had a lot of used furniture over the years, but it has always come from friends or family.  I would not risk bedbugs at this point.  I think that between clearance warehouse sales for new furniture, and buying used from trusted people you know, there are too many better options and it's not worth the risk.  A relative just sold their house and had to quickly get rid of furniture and sold a like-new, comfy recliner couch for $75.  I'd have taken it if they didn't live a few states away.  A friend is moving in with his girlfriend soon and has to get rid of all of his furniture, so a lot will go cheaply.  I suggest putting word out to your friends and family that you're looking for a comfortable, bug-free used couch, and see who knows someone.  You might really luck out that way.  If that doesn't work, check those clearance sales - a small stain could save you a bundle.  Good luck!