3 Myths About Building Your Own Furniture vs. Buying


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My mission is to teach you to confidently build magazine-worthy DIYs. I used to be terrified of power tools, which is why I'm a firm believer that ANYONE can DIY.

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August 20, 2019
Zoe Hunt
DIY or Buy? Myths about building your own furniture.

The internet is cluttered with DIY fails and reasons why DIY is probably not the best option from you. But let me tell you: thanks to DIY, we saved over $2000 on our living room. And that’s just the living room! Don’t get me started on the rest of the house!

DIY gives you the power to create your dream home while respecting your budget. You can create the look of expensive finishes and build quality furniture for a fraction of what you would pay at the store.

DIY also gives you freedom. Love that bench but wish it had different legs? No problem! Love that dresser but hate the color? You can fix that! With DIY, you have the freedom to create the exact look that you are trying to achieve.

But despite all the benefits, there are still some DIY haters out there creating myths about building your own furniture. What are the myths and why aren’t they true? Let’s talk about it!

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Myth #1: Your DIY Furniture Won’t Last

When some people hear “DIY,” they really hear “poorly constructed.” They start thinking about how only “professionals” should build furniture. Well Karen, most of the furniture in your home was massed produced by machines, not carefully constructed by a “professional.”

If anyone tries to tell you this, they’ve never DIYed before. With DIY, you can add extra supports, additional brackets, etc. You can make your furniture more secure and more supportive than something you find in stores.

When you DIY, you’re also creating furniture out of real wood. Real wood is made to stand the test of time. Laminate? Not so much. Choosing the right materials to construct your DIY furniture out of will help you determine how long it will last. But, I’m betting if you do it right and take care of it, it’ll last your lifetime!

Another advantage of making your own furniture is that you can easily make modifications or fix something during its lifetime. Right now our dresser is sagging in the middle and we need to add a support beam, but we didn’t DIY it.

Since we didn’t DIY it, we don’t know how to get exactly the same finish, so we’ve been putting off adding the support. This was supposed to be a “quality” piece of furniture, and less than a year later it’s already proving to us that it won’t last in the long run.

But what about our DIY projects? Well, our entertainment system is a few years old now and it’s looking (and functioning) good as new!

Free download wood sizing cheatsheet

Myth #2: Your DIY Furniture Won’t Look Good

We’ve all seen pictures or videos of complete DIY fails and I’m not here to tell you that DIY is foolproof. Those DIY fails are real, but a lot of them could have been avoided.

In fact, almost all of them were missing the #1 strategy to maximize DIY success. It’s a simple strategy, but it sure increases your chances of creating a project that ends up looking really good.

Over the years, we’ve created a handful of different pieces of furniture, ranging from basic to detailed and we’ve never ended up hating how it looked. Sure, during the build there might have been moments that we got a little nervous about how it was going to turn out in the end, but it always ended up turning out great.

During all our DIYs, we’ve learned that “failure” is part of the DIY process. Every project has those awkward teenage years, but once you get through that and see the end result, you’ll forget all about the awkward stages!

If you follow the #1 strategy to maximize DIY success and keep working through the ups and downs of the project, your project will end up looking great.

the #1 strategy to maximize DIY success text overlay on image of painted floors

Another big predictor of how a project will turn out is knowledge. Learning to DIY is like learning a new language. Before you can read and write, you need to learn the alphabet.

Without knowing the foundation, DIY is an exercise in frustration.

Myth #3: DIY Ends Up Being Just As Expensive

Some people say that DIY ends up being just as expensive as buying furniture. I’d agree sometimes, but I have to throw in a huge but. If you are buying cheap laminate furniture that is made to last a year or two, then yes, your real wood furniture might end up being just as expensive. But you’re going to have to throw about that cheap furniture and replace it.

If you build with real wood, your furniture is going to be more sturdy and will last longer. So when you go to replace that cheap bookcase you bought in a year, just remember that it’s now costing more to replace than it would’ve cost to DIY in the first place.

I can’t begin to tell you how many IKEA bookcases I went through in college. Every time I moved, I had to get a new one. And while I had the bookcase it wasn’t even sturdy.

Each one of those bookcases cost me about $100. If I would’ve DIYed it, the wood probably would have cost about $50 and the stain and screws and other things probably would have cost me about $40. So one DIY bookcase would’ve cost me about the same price as the laminate one, but I would still own that same bookcase!

When you’re comparing DIY furniture to furniture from other stores that is built to last, there is almost no competition: DIY will be cheaper 99% of the time. Sometimes making your own furniture will save you 70, 80, or 90% compared to buying it from the store. I’d venture to say that whether you’re thinking about purchasing cheap furniture or quality furniture, DIY will almost always save you money in the long run.

3 myths about building your own furniture vs. buying

3 Myths About Building Your Own Furniture vs. Buying

  • #1: DIY furniture is built to last since you’re using real wood and can add extra supports and stability.
  • #2: DIY furniture will look good in the end if you follow the #1 strategy to DIY success and see the project through to the end.
  • #3: DIY furniture will end up saving you money about 99% of the time–and sometimes, one piece can save you thousands!

What other myths have you heard about DIY? Let’s talk about them! Send me a message on Instagram (@craftedbythehunts)–I can’t wait to hear from you!

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  1. Aarsun Woods says:

    Great share… Interesting post.

  2. George Heubach says:

    This goes along with the simple adage, they just don’t build stuff the way the used to. I have gone to making my own, because it would cost a fortune to buy furniture that is actually built to last. These days, everything is built to be disposable and it shows.

    • Leah says:

      That’s what I’ve been finding. I’ve been watching many traditional chair upholstery videos and the art of building furniture used to be meticulous about building quality items that last so long you can pass it down to your children. Every pin tack is carefully thought through as not to crack or wear the wood. I’ve seen the construction process now for mass produced furniture and they just care about keeping costs down. Using plywood or laminate, quickly gluing and stapling things together. And then people fill the landfills with furniture they now have to dispose of after only a year of use. Almost all companies these days produce this way, and the ones that build quality furniture price their items ridiculously high. There’s the mass producers or expensive luxury producers. That’s why DIYing is so great. You can make high quality furniture for a reasonable price and you can repair/update your furniture instead of throwing more stuff into landfills. But it is a skill to be learned. One that I think pays off though!

  3. Asiah E Green says:

    Me and my boyfriend are trying to build a couch, like the ones you see on West Elm. Thank you for the inspiration, we’re going to be starting soon.. just have to find the materials.

    • Leah says:

      I’m thinking of doing the same. It would cost me about the same to buy a cheap couch but the type of couch I want to build is one that will last me and be of true quality. Real hardwood, good frame construction, hand tied springs and high density foam. These quality materials would cost me the same as buying a cheap couch but they use plywood, low quality foam, webbing etc m. Just not built to last! And the ones built well are extremelyyyyy expensive! The ones that are constructed the way I want a couch to be constructed cost about 5x more.

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