Easy Fixes for Second-hand Furniture Problems

Perhaps you’re moving into your own place for the first time, or perhaps you outfit your apartment in bargain pieces that might need a little — or a lot — of TLC. Either way, second-hand and hand-me-down furniture is always a budget-friendly option that can look great if you put in a little bit of effort. Below are five common issues and simple fixes for furniture that’s been around the block before it settled in your home.

broken chair1. How to Tighten a Loose Chair or Sofa Leg

You might have inherited a wobbly chair or sofa; both of these options are not only uncomfortable to sit on, but also potentially unsafe. Fixing this problem is simple, although there are several ways to do so. If your seat’s legs are kept in place with pocket screws, all you have to do is get new screws with a slightly larger diameter and, using a screwdriver, put them snugly into place. If its legs are held together with a dowel and glue, it might be time for a fresh coat of the sticky stuff. You can ensure that it’s extra snug by tapping the freshly glued dowel into place with a rubber mallet.

2. How to Fix Nicks, Scratches, or Water Marks on Wood

Wood furniture is notorious for showing wear and tear. Nicks and scratches can be caused by just about anything heavy or abrasive that comes in contact with your piece. It’s easy to camouflage small, shallow damage done to your wood furniture before it became yours. Simply find a crayon, shoe polish, or marker that matches the hue of your furniture’s stain and fill in the areas that have been damaged so that they blend back in.

If someone has left a cold-and-sweating beverage on your wood coffee table, for example, the best thing to do is spring to action right away. Remove all of the liquid as soon as possible, before it can leave a mark and grab a hair dryer to dry the spot. If that doesn’t work, cover the spot with petroleum jelly, toothpaste, or car wax and wipe it away. If neither of these options is successful, they will at least prevent the moisture causing further damage.

Of course, some wood furniture is beyond either of these repair options. If so, there are plenty of ways to redecorate your wood furniture so that its nicks and scratches give it character. Try a distressed paint treatment if you’re into the shabby-chic look.

3. How to Silence Squeaky Chairs, Tables, and Beds

There are several ways to repair chairs and tables that squeak. First, you’ll have to find the source of the noise. The best way to do so is to take off any cushions might muffle the sound and throw you off of the squeak’s location. Then, push lightly on your furniture to see where the sound is coming from. You’ll then have to open up the area with a screwdriver or other tool if the guilty part isn’t visible. Finally, you’ll have to figure out which silencing product to apply. For example, a recliner’s squeaky mechanics often require you to apply a dry layer of graphite to its pivot points. Meanwhile, screws that hold wood together and squeak in the process can be coated in beeswax to keep them quiet and in their rightful place.

As for a squeaky bed frame, there are separate solutions to apply once you locate the source of the noise. You can tighten the bolts and screws that keep your bed frame together, or apply WD-40 or a similar lubricant to squeaky parts. You might also want to make sure that the squeaks aren’t coming from your mattress springs, as this is an entirely different problem that might be solved by either rotating your mattress, placing a hard wooden plank under your mattress to keep it from shifting, or replacing your mattress altogether.

4. How to Fluff Up a Saggy Sofa

Perhaps you’re lucky enough that your sofa cushions are lumpy because its previous owner hid thousands of dollars inside. Most of us won’t find this to be the case, so it’s handy to know how to restore your uneven cushions to their plush, smooth beginnings. Most cushions have zippers, so this task should be an easy one. Simply unzip them, remove the offending filler, and replace it with smooth, firm foam. Foam is preferable to cotton batting. Cotton batting is easy to shift and, therefore, often the culprit in sagging or lumpy seat cushions. To further enhance your sofa’s new-found perkiness, place a wooden plank under the cushions. This is particularly useful if the frame sags too.

5. How to Diminish Fabric Smell and Discoloration

Used upholstered furniture isn’t typically found in mint condition. If you don’t have the budget to reupholster or slipcover it yourself, it’s handy to know how to clean it so that it looks and smells as good as new. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to sprinkle baking soda all over the fabric and set it in the sun for a few hours. The baking soda’s crystals soak up any suspect smells that you can then remove by vacuuming the powder or brushing it away. You can also use the latter tactic to remove stains from polyester fabrics and suede.  Sprinkle baking soda on the fabric, let it sit for a while and then remove it with a brush — the stain should come off.

Our contributor, James White, is a freelance construction worker and blogs in his free time at Homey Improvements. He also enjoys hiking, photography, and improving his own home. Follow him on [email protected].




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Comments (1)

  1. Avatar Genevieve Estrada

    Great tips. Covering the spot with petroleum toothpaste is a great advice. My son always leave some cold or sweating cups on the table. It is so annoying to go after him and remove them. I will try this next time. Thank you for your article. Best regards!