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Is It Cheaper to Make or Buy Furniture?

Drilling furniture
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Whether you’re a DIYer or someone who just likes to find a good bargain, making your own furniture has plenty of appeal. After all, crafting a piece for your house that suits your personality and space is a beautiful thing. But does it really save you money?

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There are tons of people weighing in on the internet. That includes this viral video, in which a carpenter and his wife saved thousands of dollars when he made a sofa table instead of buying the $5,000 piece they fell in love with at the store. Is it possible for the everyday decor-lover to achieve that, though? Probably not. Read on for all the pros and cons of making versus buying your own furniture.

What Are Some Advantages of Building Your Own Furniture?

Every room and space is different, which is why some pieces of furniture will work in your home and some won’t. Size, build, lighting, window placement and other factors determine what you can fit in a room and where. When you make your own furniture, however, you can create custom pieces that perfectly fit the space you have in mind.

The other advantage to building your own furniture is that you can take inspiration from several pieces and fuse them. Love that table top but wish it had different legs? No problem. Want a bench with a little more design? Craft one out. Looking for that exact piece but in a lighter stain? Start recreating.

Woman making her own wood table from a piece of raw wood
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What Are Some Disadvantages to Building Your Own Furniture?

If you’re committed to building your own furniture, remember you’ll still need the proper tools to pull it off. Whether you rent or buy such tools, research your build first and know what tools you’ll need and how to use them.

The other potential disadvantage is that if you’re a beginner builder, you may not immediately achieve the guru craftsmanship you’ve been dreaming of. Learning to build furniture properly takes time, and you should expect to make plenty of mistakes along the way.

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Related: How to Mix Modern and Antique Furniture, According to a Leader Design Expert

How Much Does It Cost to Build Your Own Furniture?

The most significant cost in making your own furniture is, of course, the materials themselves. Lumber, glue, screws, stain, paint and all of the other required items add up. Still, these materials won’t cost you as much as a nicely crafted, finished piece of furniture, which is why the idea of building your own pieces can be so appealing.

However, you should also factor in machinery costs and labour. How many hours do you anticipate the project will take, and how much is your time worth? Do you have access to the required tools, or will you need to invest in them? These are all important questions to ask yourself before beginning a new project.

A mother building furniture for her young son's bedroom
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When Should You Build Your Own Furniture?

If you’re building for the love of it, have the know-how (or the drive to learn), have access to the proper tools and know that you will complete the project once you start it, making your own furniture can be a good decision. If the build is a particularly easy one (versus an intricately carved-out or designed piece), it may just make more sense to do it yourself.

There are times when making a bookshelf or an end table is more expensive than purchasing a new one at a cheap home store. In that case, you should consider the quality of what you can make versus what you’re buying. A piece made from real wood and strong materials is likelier to last longer than a cheap piece that wobbles.

Related: Upcycle Your Bedroom Furniture With These Easy DIY Hacks

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When Should You Buy Furniture Instead?

On the flip side, there are times when it’s just easier to buy your furniture instead. It might not be worth it to make a piece if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you need to invest in tools you’ll only ever use once. Buying is also probably the way to go if you have a busy schedule that’s likely to result in you leaving a half-finished project hanging around your basement or garage for weeks.

Woman making her own chair in her wood-working studio
Getty Images

What Are Some Good Furniture DIYs to Start With?

Instead of beginning by building furniture from scratch, consider restoring finds from garage sales or flea markets to see if you’re any good at it. A little sanding, staining or painting can go a long way and takes way less time than building something from scratch.

Or, consider buying your furniture and sticking to decorative DIYs, like plant stands, shelves or bath mats instead. That way you get the best of both worlds: nicely crafted pieces of furniture and the ability to get creative in your living space.

You Might Also Like: How to Turn a Thrifted Stool Into a Colourful Woven Masterpiece

 

 



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