Furniture Flipping 101
Learn to Earn

Article Category: How To

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small amount from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

Affiliate links are provided throughout the website and provide me a small measure of income when you make a purchase using those links.

beginner furniture flipping mistakes cover photo

The Top 8 Beginner Furniture Flipping Mistakes

Do you want to flip furniture for a profit? Maybe make some side money flipping furniture or start furniture flipping as a full-time business but don’t know how to get started? What are some of the beginner furniture flipping mistakes to avoid? 

While I offer a comprehensive set of furniture flipping courses that teach you everything you need to know, I want to cover some of the biggest beginner furniture flipper mistakes to help you avoid these pitfalls.

Let’s look at the top eight beginner furniture flipper mistakes and how to avoid them. For those of you already enrolled, I have included links to the furniture flipping courses and modules for easy reference.

1. Jumping Right In

So, you were bit by the furniture flipping bug, but you are new to painting and aren’t sure exactly where to start. One of the first beginner furniture flipping mistakes is to jump right in. I get it. It’s exciting to try something new. You are gung-ho and ready to start.

beginner furniture flipping gung ho guy
Beginner furniture flipping mistake number one

Before you jump right in and buy the first can of paint you see and grab a paintbrush off the rack, you must understand the products and tools every furniture flipper needs to start furniture flipping, including the different paints and brushes, which I get to a bit later.

Another thing you will need to do is carefully choose a piece of furniture. Consider your workspace, time limitations, and much more. I cover understanding your limitations in the module Finding Furniture to Flip.

If you want to learn to refinish furniture the right way, I strongly recommend taking the three Furniture Flipping 101 skills courses, Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced. These courses will set you up for success and help you avoid the following mistakes beginner furniture flippers make. The Introductory course covers the necessary skills you need to get started, and the next two will help you hone your skills.

If you want to start your own furniture flipping business, and learn how to sell flipped furniture, take the Business Management course to help you set your business up the right way.

2. Not Choosing the Right Piece

A big beginner furniture flipping mistake painters make is not choosing the right piece of furniture to refinish. Before you can start a project, you need to choose the best furniture to flip for profit. Maybe, you’ve spotted a dresser or buffet and hutch in a style you love. All it needs is a coat of paint, and it will be perfect! But will it?

Taking on a project that is too big, too damaged, or made of inferior materials, can be overwhelming and may even turn you off from painting. If you don’t choose the right piece of furniture or décor to start, you may face the problem of getting rid of a damaged or partially refinished piece of furniture no one wants to take off your hands. You will likely lose money. 

When you first start learning to refinish furniture, start small. A small end table or nightstand is a great way to get your feet wet and succeed. Do not start on your grandma’s antique dining room set. You will overwhelm yourself and possibly ruin something that you can’t replace.

Free isn't Free

Another thing to avoid are pieces that have a lot of damage. While some people are very capable of repairing the damage, if you don’t have the skills, you will become frustrated and likely quit. Very often, these pieces are free because of their damage. However, free isn’t necessarily free.

You may invest more in repairs (your time and money for products) than you can recoup in profits. Watch for damages when you are picking up pieces. You will also find inexpensive, undamaged pieces, so don’t take the first thing that comes along.

Learn to identify furniture materials so you buy quality pieces, not garbage ones no one will buy or that will fall apart before long. As a side tip, sometimes those pieces are worth more parting them out for their hardware. Check out this free dresser’s handles! Just remember you have to get rid of the rest of the wood, and disposal isn’t free.

3. Hoarding

Another beginner furniture flipping mistake that people make is buying every ‘good deal’ they find. Doing this will quickly fill up any available workspace and result in more stress than success. I know this because I have done it.

It is tough to pass up a good deal or exciting piece. But hoarding results in working around clutter and getting stuck with a piece or pieces that will be difficult to sell. Hoarding can also lead to Painter’s Block. Check out this article on 6 Types of Painter’s Block. 

Once you get into the groove of painting and selling, you can determine your acquisition rate and what pieces will work for you. Start small and keep your available storage and workspace in mind for your first pieces. 

4. Not Being Prepared

Once you have the perfect piece, you will want to jump in and paint! Not quite yet. You need some essential tools and supplies to get started. The module Tools Supplies & PPE covers this topic thoroughly.

tool pegboard
One of my workareas and some tools. Check out the article on how to build this tool pegboard.

Briefly, at minimum, you need a good brush or two, prep materials like cloths, cleaner (dish soap usually works fine), and sandpaper, paint, primer (often), a finish if used.

Before you choose your paintbrush, you need to understand its different components and how these components affect the finish you will achieve. See the module Choosing the Right Paintbrush. Besides tools, you will need to select a paint. See the module Selecting Paint and Stain for a detailed explanation of all things paint and stain.

5. Not Prepping A Piece Properly

I believe this is the number one beginner furniture flipping mistake when refinishing furniture. Beginners either don’t prep or over prep by doing things like over-sanding veneer. There is no question that painting furniture and décor requires proper prep.

A photo shared to a Facebook group.

Learn what is and what is not needed. You will be much happier with the end product if you take the time now to understand the basics of furniture prep. It is really easy to mess up a piece with improper sanding or lack of cleaning or priming. Redoing a piece is never as fun as doing it the first time. 

Many companies will hype their products as “no-prep”. Anyone who has painted for any time will quickly realize this isn’t realistic. And you will encounter seasoned painters who swear they don’t prep. I would love to see some of those pieces after customers have used them. Did they hold up? Or did the paint chip and peel? While some products are easy to use and require minimal prep, there are few circumstances where I would say a piece is ready to paint the moment I lay my eyes on it. 

Prep isn’t complicated, but it isn’t as fun as the actual painting. It involves washing, sanding, and priming, so everyone wants to skip this step. I cover the steps and pitfalls in the module Prep and Painting Basics. Don’t skip the prep if you want your piece to turn out! And learn to sand a piece properly.

6. Applying the Paint Wrong

Painting, like any skill, takes time to learn. Each type of paint, and even different brands of the same kind of paint, goes on slightly differently. If you spend any time on Facebook groups, you will quickly find everyone has an opinion on the best way to apply a particular brand, which brush or technique is best, and what not to do. 

The fact is that there are many different ways to achieve the same results. The more you use one technique, the better you will get at it. But you may need to experiment with paints, brushes, and techniques to find the combination that suits you best. 

However, when you first start painting, some basic mistakes will make it much harder to get a good finish. There are many ways to end up with a lousy paint job: applying too much paint, overworking the paint, not letting it dry between coats, or not allowing time to cure before using it. Check out the module Prep & Painting Basics for best practices to get you started the right way.

7. Not Applying a Protective Finish

Not all paints need a finish (topcoat). Some have one built-in. But, chalk paints benefit from one, and stains need a protective topcoat. Even gel stains that seem to have a topcoat built-in (they don’t) require protection. Beginner painters often struggle with protective finishes – their finish blushes and shows brushstrokes. Avoiding using a protective finish is not the right solution.

There are many different types of protective finishes. I cover these in detail in my modules Introduction to Protective Finishes and Advanced Protective Finishes.

furniture finishes
Water-based furniture finishes

8. Not Starting

While the previous beginner furniture flipping mistake were perhaps the most common when someone gets started painting, another problem is when someone is scared to get started painting.

Not a mistake exactly, it is a problem that affects many beginner furniture flippers. This article on Painter’s Block looks at a few psychological reasons people have trouble getting started painting and how to overcome them.

Don't take on too big a project to start

Selecting a large, overwhelming project will likely cause a creative block (like writer’s block). Start with a small, inexpensive project that doesn’t take long to finish, and if you don’t like the results, you can redo it easily.


And that covers the top eight beginner furniture flipping mistakes. Are there any I missed? Let me know if you want me to cover some other beginner furniture flipping mistakes. Help others learn from your mistakes by sharing with us in the comments below.

Send me your flipping furniture before and after photos too! I would love to feature your work on my blog. You can reach me on my contact page here (while you are there, please provide me with some suggestions on other topics you would love to learn more about). 

Sign up for the Bulletin Bites Newsletter! There is a link at the bottom of the page.

To learn the skills needed to refinish furniture, enroll in one or all of the Furniture Flipping 101 courses or bundles. The first Introductory course covers the introductory skills you need to know before you start painting and teaches you how to avoid these top eight beginner furniture flipping mistakes. The subsequent skills courses, Intermediate and Advanced, will teach you the skills you need to become a professional furniture refinisher. Add on the Business Management course to learn how to build your business.

Looking for more? Check out these articles.

Thank you! Your responses have been received.