In times of economic stress, people are always looking for ways to make old things last longer. This is especially true of furniture, some of the most expensive items to replace in anyone’s household. Furniture refinishing is not difficult work, but most people prefer not to do it themselves.
Refinishing is a matter of sanding down or removing old finish carefully and smoothly, then re-staining or re-painting the furniture. It does require some open space, preferably a garage or basement with plenty of ventilation. You will be using solvents frequently to strip furniture, as well as thin paint and stain, and you must have enough air coming in to avoid danger from the fumes.
There are dozens of commercial products available that have made furniture refinishing easier than ever before. One product can simply be brushed on a piece of furniture, left standing for a few hours and wiped off, taking all the old paint with it. If you have a shop or garage connected to your home which you can transform into a furniture refinishing room, you have all the space you need to carry on your business.
Prices for refinishing furniture depend, of course, on the piece of furniture itself, how many layers of paint have been applied to it, how decorative the furniture is and how much detail work is required to refinish it. You should figure your costs on the basis of $20 an hour. If you are not paying rent for a shop, you should be able to clear at least $18 of this $20 as profit.
This is a business in which elbow grease is the largest investment and materials the smallest. Advertise your service in the Yellow Pages and in classified ads. Also have a moderate quantity of business cards printed which you should leave with prospective cus¬tomers. Visit used furniture stores (they may want to refer cus¬tomers to you). You will be servicing both the furniture store and the furniture buyer at the same time. If your customers want special work done, such as furniture restoration or reupholstery, your charges will be extra.
It is not difficult to re-upholster a cushion; but it is quite difficult to re-upholster a complete piece of furniture. You should limit your reupholstery, at least at the beginning, to simple cushions. You will charge your customers extra for materials in this case, though you can invite them to provide their own material for reupholstering.
As your business increases in size, consider renting a larger work area. You do not need a location like that required by a re¬tail store. You might even consider using someone else’s abandoned garage.
You should have a station wagon to transport furniture to your workshop; if the piece of furniture is too large for a station wagon, a U-Haul trailer or a small truck. In this case you will charge your customer for pickup and delivery.
Most people willingly pay well to have their furniture refinished because no matter how much the cost, it is a mere fraction of what it would cost to replace the furniture. If you become well known for quality work, you might be asked to refinish valuable antiques, at which time your workmanship will command a higher rate of pay.
You will have to use your discretion as you get further into this business. If possible, start with furniture that is not of great antique value, until you have perfected your skills. Of course, one of the best ways to acquire these skills is to work with a furniture re-finisher as an employee. As we have repeated so often, there is no better way to learn than to do, browse around this site.