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5 Reasons NOT to Buy Cheap Furniture

Over the last thirty years, the mindset of American furniture shoppers has changed. It used to be the case that when a family bought a furniture set, say a sofa or a dinner table, they were buying it for life, and many times they would even pass it down when they passed away. Nowadays, it has become more common to buy cheaply made, and inexpensive furniture pieces at big box stores that are considered disposable. Well, I am here to tell you FIVE (5) reasons NOT to buy cheap furniture anymore.

Before I get started, I’m sure you’re wondering, ‘Why on Earth is this legal advice blog talking about furniture?’ Stick around to the end, and you’ll understand, trust me.

#1 – It’s More Expensive in the Long Run

The average cost of an all-wood, long-lasting, five-drawer dresser for a bedroom set is $599. Contrast that with an inexpensive big box dresser with cardboard backing, dowel fasteners, and fabricated wood framing that costs $199. If the cheaply constructed one only lasts two years and you have to replace it, it only takes six years for the maple or oak dresser to be the same price.  

Now, take a half-an-hour and walk around an antique furniture store and ask the sales associate when the dressers on the floor were made. Think of the savings of a chest that lasts 30, 40, 50 years, or longer. Put the fine-crafted, moved-three-homes-and-survived, sturdy as a house dresser in your will for your children and make it so they don’t even need to buy one at all! And that’s just a dresser. Imagine if all of your furniture purchases lasted a lifetime or longer. You may feel like you’re saving money by buying the cheap stuff, but you cost yourself a lot.

#2 – Cheap Furniture is Bad for the Environment

What do you think costs more lumber over your lifetime: one dresser or six? What if I told you that the mega-store IKEA uses 1% of the world’s wood supply every single year? Add onto that brand with each of the big box stores that also sell cheaply made disposable furniture. All of a sudden, when logging should be used for building housing, or some long-lasting goods, it is being used to mass-produce flimsy disposable items.

It’s not just logging, but the packaging, shipping, warehousing, and many other harmful industries that add to the impact humans have on the planet. Can you choose to continue to buy cheaply made furniture, knowing that the product materials are sourced in a way that damages our very existence?

#3 – Cheap Furniture Breaks Easier

This one should be obvious, but I can’t skip it just because it’s so clear. Think about the last time you heard a screw fall out of one of the cheaply made furniture pieces in your home. How exactly do you repair it? I know from first-hand experience that some cheap furniture can’t be fixed. Usually, the wood is made of particleboard (pressed fibers of wood and other material). Once you screw into it, it is stripped. There’s no going back.

Another factor in repair is cost. Are you going to pay a maintenance specialist to fix your $20 end table? Of course not. It just becomes disposable to you, and you buy another. If you could stop the endless furniture buying, when something happens – say a gash in a wooden top or a screw falls out – repairing it yourself or having an expert do it is possible. Restorations happen all the time when the wood can be fixed.

#4 The Appearance of Cheaply Made Furniture is Tacky

Now, this point might be more opinion than fact. But, I’m sure we can all agree that the timeless, robust, and classic look of a quality piece of furniture is far better than a trendy cheap piece. A furniture connoisseur didn’t write this article, but the proof is in the pudding. How many Wal-mart bed frames do you see in antique furniture showrooms? When you look at an armoire, does it remind you of something you saw at Target next to the bean-bag chairs?

This is the part of the article that I really want you to pay attention to, and the reason I wrote this in the first place because it’s vital to me.

#5 Cheap Furniture is an Unsafe Product

I don’t want to say a friend, because I didn’t know them very well. But, someone I know recently lost their child to a dresser that tipped over. The child was 23 months old. As I write this, I also have a 23-month-old son (and a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old). This is a horrifying tragedy that I can’t even imagine happening to my family, but it is a startling truth.


When I was a child, (I’m 38 now), I was taken to the hospital for electrical burns on my hands from climbing up my parent’s dresser and playing with a humidifier cord when I reached the top. If I was a curious child today, and the furniture wasn’t a heavy, durable wooden dresser, I might not have lived. I am lucky.

More and more manufacturers are now adding safety measures to their cheaply made furniture. I’ve seen strapping that comes with dressers, for example, that gets screwed into a drywall anchor to prevent it from tipping over. But, some injuries aren’t from tip-overs. Sometimes the cheap furniture just collapses. Sometimes the furniture can’t support the weight of the child or something else that’s on top, so legs break or fall off.

My point is this – buying cheap furniture is a safety hazard to children, and any company that makes dangerous and unsafe products can be held liable if you or your children are injured. If you feel like a hazardous product hurt your child, and that the company that made it should have liability for their products, please call us at (815) 965-2000 for your free/no-obligation consultation. We can advise if you have a case, and help you with compassion and understanding as we know what it’s like and know what to do about it.