Design & Style | May 03,2021
How to Flip Furniture: 3 Must-Have Tools for a Jaw-Dropping Before & After
Auction Ninja

by April Reade


For many people, buying new furniture from a retail store is not an option these days. Prices have skyrocketed, delivery windows are months out and the quality of furniture isn't any better. Most cheap furniture is made from MDF boards, and good quality wood raises the price significantly.

Thrifting and updating old furniture  is a great solution to this problem. You can take an old, outdated dresser and make it look modern at a fraction of the cost of buying new. To achieve that, you might need a few power tools, and today, I’ll show you which ones are the must-haves if you’re planning to try your own furniture makeover.


#1 Orbital Sander

My most used tool for thrift furniture makeovers is an orbital sander. This tool allows me to sand down the top layer of the finish on the furniture piece. I’d even dare to say that this is the only tool you might need to make an amazing furniture flip. 

When you sand down the top layer of old paint that’s been sitting on the dresser, it achieves two goals - first, updating an outdated color with something more exciting, and second, giving it a good cleaning --  it’s been around a long time after all.


Auction Ninja

“This project was so rewarding. I scored 7 chairs for $40 and with a little primer and paint completely transformed them to math with the dining table that I build before. This dining area is still my favorite in the house and we make a lot of fun memories there.”


When you are working with a sander, don’t forget to follow safety rules. The most important one is to wear eyeglasses and a mask. The dust from wood can contain hazardous elements, and you don’t want it to get to your eyes or nose.

A few weeks ago, I updated a thrifted dresser. You can see all the details of the process and decision-making on my blog. It’s been an adventure, to say the least. I used an orbital sander to remove varnish from the drawers to apply a different stain on top of it. And I think it turned out fabulous! See for yourself!

The beautiful thing about old furniture is that it's made from real wood in most cases, as opposed to MDF boards. The possibilities of updating old furniture are endless. You can take a dresser, like this one, and give it a little refresh. You could change hardware, sand it down to the wood's original color, so the beautiful grain is showing through. If you discover along the way that the grain isn't as you imagined, you can always paint over it. 


#2 Paint Sprayer

A paint sprayer is another handy tool for a furniture makeover. If you haven’t tried it yet, I encourage you to stop everything and give it a go! The result is such a smooth finish that is so satisfying. When you use a paint sprayer, you have to create a shelter or, in other words, prep the work area and cover everything around you. A paint sprayer can get messy very quickly.


Auction Ninja

“I found this dresser for $30 and gave it a bit of TLC in form of paint and handmade knobs for drawers”


If you are trying to avoid mess, you can always paint furniture by hand. To get the smoothest finish, use a roller for smooth surfaces or buy a high-quality brush. They are usually more expensive, but this is not something to save money on. Cheap brushes tend to leave terrible strokes and might ruin your project.

If you are painting by hand, I’d recommend doing at least 2 coats and use 220 grit sandpaper to use between coats. This way, you’ll archive the smoothest finish ever!


Auction Ninja

“I updated an old IKEA kitchen that I found for just $15. A little bit of paint and imagination can go a long way. I spray painted the hardware and added a backsplash to create a Morrocan night inspired theme. You can find a full tutorial on my blog.


#3 Power Drill or Electric Screwdriver

Another tool that I consider a must-have for a furniture flip is a power drill or an electric screwdriver. A power drill could be useful if you’re drilling new holes (for new hardware, for example). If you’re replacing old hardware but don’t need to drill a new hole, you can opt-out for a simple electric screwdriver. I have one by Dremel and can’t imagine my life without it. Of course, you could use a regular screwdriver, but it will take way more time and you might stop enjoying the makeover in the process. We are trying to work smarter, not harder!


Auction Ninja

“I was looking for a dresser with a lot of small drawers that could fit smaller toys for my kid’s playroom. I was so excited to find this little treasure for $20. I changed the knobs, cut the bottom and added mid century modern legs to create an expensive look for so much less!”

I hope you find these tips helpful and inspired to try a furniture makeover. 


About the Author

April Reade is an avid DIYer and a creative behind blog and YouTube, If Only April. She completed her first DIY with good old hammer and nails, and since then has taught herself how to use power tools. Being a strong advocate for women empowerment, April hopes to equip women with skills necessary to take charge of their own DIY journeys. 

With a degree in Art Business from Sotheby’s Art Institute, she loves to scout antique stores in search of one of a kind home decor. April loves sharing DIY projects that are approachable and focus on affordability and ease on her blog, YouTube and Instagram.

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