Shopping for antique furniture

When redecorating your house, its important to remember that your furniture is more than just something to sit on.  Your furniture is an investment which can either increase or decrease in value.  How much value your furniture has depends on several factors.  The first and largest determining factor is the quality of furniture at the time you buy it.

This is why it is important to do extensive research previous to purchasing your furniture.  If you plan to replace this furniture in five or less years and put it out for the trash man to pick up, then you need to do very little research.  Very few people choose this lifestyle, and it does not fit with families that need quality furniture.

Antique furniture is high quality aged furniture.  You are much more likely than normal to find out about any of the flaws before you take it home when shopping antiques.  This is because antique furniture has already aged.  It has been through all the pressures furniture can go through.  New furniture is at a disadvantage because many things can happen to it, even in the hands of people who take good care of their furniture.

One example is weathering.  This is a process in which wood and leather furniture adjusts to the strains of their environment.  During the first five years, the furniture is under the most pressure, depending on your climate.  If there is going to be a failure in the joints, if the wood is going to split or crack, or any other natural material failure it is going to happen during this time period.  This is the advantage of antique furniture.  Antique furniture has spent the past forty or more years aging and adjusting to humidity and other environmental factors.

When you are shopping for antique furniture, any flaws are usually easily visible.  Most flaws make themselves apparent from the outside of the furniture, especially when dealing with wood pieces.  Wooden antique furniture should be checked first by doing an external inspection.  This means looking for any cracks or structural flaws.  Keep in mind that while some defects can be character marks, wood splits are going to get worse and are very hard to repair.

Next, you need to check cabinets and drawers.  It is important to make sure that the furniture piece has all of its original hardware.  If it is from a time period when screws were handmade, it will not be possible to match any hardware to it.  So that should be something that you keep in mind before getting any “special bargains”.

Finally, it is important to check any moving parts.  This includes drawers and their glides.  On most antiques, you will find wood glides or no glides.  Wood glides are preferable as they do not break and hold the drawer in place.  Avoid metal glides because they are flimsy and don’t hold up over time.  After you finish checking the structure and damage to the piece, you can then determine the value based on that and the quality of any woodwork on the piece.  At first, it will be hard to know how much antique furniture is worth however after some time it will be easier due to experience.

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