Pine and Oak Unfinished Wood Furniture Buying Guide

Painting unfinished furnitureHow would you like to save a bit of money, have all your decor finished in the same style throughout your home and feel proud that you did it all yourself with cheap unfinished furniture?

Use this strategy guide to learn all the aspects of finishing your own furniture with less money and your own handy-work.

DIY Advantages

There has been more demand from consumers realizing the benefits of finishing furniture themselves; companies in the industry have responded with greater selections. One of the biggest advantages of buying this type of furniture is that you can see the smallest details of any imperfections in the piece before you purchase.

Furniture pieces that are already stained and finished in the store can hide a multitude of sins until you bring it home for further inspection. You may find style weak points, knots, mismatched pieces or discolorations in the wood. Manufacturers supplying unfinished pieces must use higher grade lumber knowing that any defects can be easily spotted when purchased.

Unfinished pieces will cost less because you are doing part of the manual labor to complete the project. You can easily buy new pieces to match up with the style, wood, paint or finish with other pieces already in your home. Finishing unfinished furniture is not difficult; sales people can give you help and there is information available on the Internet too.

Things to Consider

  1. Inspect the wood carefully before you even consider purchasing. Run your hand over all surfaces of the piece to evaluate if it has been sanded and feels smooth.
  2. What is the overall condition of the wood; are there holes, knots or sap streaks running through it? If the quality looks good but it still requires some final sanding then it may be a good buy depending upon how much work you are willing to do.
  3. How are all the pieces joined and are they properly joined and functional? Most pieces are attached together by wood glue, nails or staples. Check any structures with legs looking for wobbly conditions and drawers should fit properly and slide easily.
  4. Always take measurements of any piece that you are considering to make sure it fits in the location you have chosen.
  5. In addition, some people do all the finishing work in a garage without measuring doorways and never realize they cannot get the piece through the door into the house.
  6. Any pieces that are the wrong style or size should not even be considered. If a piece does meet the style, size and needs some minor changes such as moldings, trim or a preferred hardware then it is a potential candidate for you to consider.

How much work you are willing to do will determine the final decision as to whether you want to purchase. Be realistic about changing out hardware, fixing splintered areas, repairing splits, reattaching legs, cleaning and filling knotholes or sap pockets and realigning or repairing drawers.

Wood Type Choices

Oak wood for unfinished furnitureThe two most popular types of wood used for unfinished furniture pieces are pine and oak.

Pine is chosen often because it costs less than oak and most color coating types will work with unfinished pine. This type is much softer than oak and it is not as long lasting because of this characteristic.

Oak is durable and long lasting, which is a particularly good feature for expensive pieces. This wood typically has tighter grains compared to pine and shows beautifully when sanded stained and finished. It comes in white or red oak, both work equally well accepting stains and finishing nicely.


Unfinished furniture queen size bedIt is a good idea to decide how you are going to finish all the pieces before purchasing. Buying unfinished furniture pieces is a lot like having a blank canvass before you. It is up to you to decide if you want to paint, stain or varnish.

You might purchase several pieces of the same style for the living room such as bookshelves and coffee tables; stain in different colors. You may prefer oak in the living room and trendy pine furniture in the bedroom. Plan a bit for the future because you may be so overjoyed with the outcome of your cheap unfinished furniture project that you might just add some additional pieces.

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