Can DIY Furniture Projects Really Save You Money Compared to Buying Pre-Made Furniture?

Can DIY Furniture Projects Really Save You Money Compared to Buying Pre-Made Furniture

Have you ever looked at the price tag on a piece of furniture at a retail store and cringed? The costs can add up, especially if you’re furnishing an entire home. This makes many people consider taking on DIY furniture projects to potentially save some money. But can you save money by making furniture yourself compared to buying pre-made pieces? Let’s take a closer look.

The Cost of Pre-Made Furniture

Pre-made furniture from most retailers is marked up significantly from the base costs. Here are some of the factors that drive up the prices:

  • Labor: The cost of designers, manufacturers, and retailers all gets passed onto the consumer. Making furniture requires skilled labor.
  • Shipping: Transporting bulky furniture adds to the costs. Most pieces need to be shipped via truck from factories to retail stores.
  • Retail markups: Stores need to make a profit, so they mark up the prices beyond manufacturing costs. Markups of 2-3x are common.
  • Assembly: Pre-made furniture often requires assembly. Some retailers charge extra for assembly services.

These costs quickly add up. For example, a simple wooden coffee table may cost $500+ at a retail store. But the raw materials may only be $100-150.

The Benefits of DIY Furniture Projects

Making furniture yourself can eliminate many of the costs associated with buying pre-made:

Reduced Material Costs

Purchasing the raw lumber, hardware, fabric, etc. for a DIY project is often much cheaper than buying a finished piece. You aren’t paying for the manufacturing, shipping, or retail markups.


With DIY projects, you can customize the furniture exactly to your tastes and space. Pre-made furniture has standard sizes and configurations.

Sense of Accomplishment

It’s incredibly rewarding to design and build your own furniture. You gain a sense of accomplishment and pride from DIY projects.

Factors to Consider When Choosing DIY Projects

However, DIY furniture projects aren’t guaranteed to save money. Here are some important factors to consider:

Skill Level

Assess your woodworking skills honestly. Complex projects require more expertise that may be costly if you make mistakes. Start simple if you’re a beginner.

Time Commitment

DIY projects take a significant time investment. Evaluate if you have the time for the project, especially larger pieces.

Tools and Equipment

Make sure you have access to the necessary tools and workspace. Equipment costs can add up.

Material Costs

Research material prices thoroughly and compare to finished furniture costs. Some projects may not yield savings.

DIY Furniture Project Ideas

Here are some DIY furniture projects to consider at various skill levels:

Beginner-Friendly Projects

These projects are achievable even for total beginners:

  • Floating shelves
  • Wall-mounted coat rack
  • Simple side table
  • Rustic wooden crate

Intermediate Projects

Develop your skills with these moderately difficult projects:

  • Farmhouse-style dining table
  • Mid-century modern bookshelf
  • Upholstered headboard
  • Outdoor bench

Advanced Projects

Serious woodworkers can try their hand at these challenging DIY projects:

  • Built-in bookshelves
  • Murphy bed
  • Tufted ottoman
  • Wooden pallet furniture

Cost Comparison: DIY vs. Pre-Made Furniture

To determine if a DIY project can save money, you need to compare the costs:

  • A simple DIY farmhouse table from pine boards may cost $150 in materials. A similar pre-made table could be $600+.
  • Building a basic DIY shelving unit could cost as little as $50 compared to $200+ for a prefab version.
  • However, more complex projects with expensive materials may be cheaper to buy pre-made when factoring in labor.

Do your research to determine the breakeven point where DIY becomes more affordable.

Tips for Successful DIY Furniture Projects

Follow these tips to ensure your DIY projects go smoothly and save money:

  • Develop a detailed plan – Map out the project steps and create plans if needed.
  • Invest in quality tools – Don’t skimp on tools; it will cost you more in the long run.
  • Practice safety – Carefully follow safety guidelines to avoid costly accidents.
  • Be patient – Building furniture has a learning curve. Stick with it!


DIY furniture projects allow you to build custom pieces tailored to your home while potentially saving money. But assess your skill level and do your research before starting. With some smart planning, you can create beautiful furniture affordably. What will you build next?

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