Guide to Buying Pine Furniture

Helpful Tips and Hints

Small Piece Of Wooden Furniture A Chest In Pine
Dave White / Getty Images

If you’re new to purchasing wood furniture, deciding what to buy can be a daunting challenge. There are so many types of woods and finishes that it may not be clear what type of wood you’re buying. Pine is often used to make furniture, including dining room tables and bedroom sets. It can be finished or covered with a wood veneer. Here are a few tips to think about before buying pine furniture.

What is Pine?

Solid woods are classified as either hardwoods or softwoods, but the description is based on the tree’s foliage rather than the strength of the wood. Hardwood trees lose their leaves seasonally. Softwood trees maintain their leaves year-round. Pine is a softwood that’s grown and used worldwide. It is light in color with a prominent grain and has knots that are usually much darker than the rest of the wood. Many woodworkers favor pine because it is easier to work with than hardwoods.

Why Consider Pine?

Pine furniture is less expensive than many other wood pieces, especially if you buy it unfinished, which makes it a very popular choice. It can be painted, stained or covered with a clear coat of varnish. The wood’s noticeable grain and knots give each piece a unique look. Pine furniture blends well with other woods, allowing the buyer to mix and match pieces. Pine furniture adds coziness to a room, and the wood is ideal for rustic or English Country decor. Pine’s coloring keeps bookshelves, armoires, dressers and beds from appearing heavy and stuffy. Unfinished pine furniture, which can be personalized by painting or stenciling, allows great flexibility in a child’s room. The furniture can be refinished and repainted as the child’s tastes changes.

What to Look For

The quality of pine furniture can vary widely. Although pine is more pliable than most hardwoods, pieces can last for decades if it is constructed well. Knots should be expected and can be attractive in a piece of furniture, but watch out for knots that create a hole in the furniture. Too many knots can weaken the piece. Although pine is a sturdy wood, it can easily be dented and scratched. Like all woods, pine will warp when exposed to constant humidity or moisture. Well-crafted pine will be smooth and the walls plumb. The fasteners on the drawer should create a snug fit between the front and rest of the drawer. Drawers should pull out smoothly and maintain their shape when twisted.

Getting a Good Price

Custom-built pine furniture can be surprisingly affordable. Local Amish and Mennonite communities may have woodworkers who can craft a custom piece for about the same cost or even less than a retailer would charge for a mass-produced work. Reasonably priced pine furniture also is sold at many big-box retail stores. IKEA carries a full range of mass-produced, unfinished pine furniture pieces. The furniture will have to be put together, which can require some patience but isn’t overly difficult. Also, check yard sales and resale shops. If the furniture piece is in good condition it can be stripped and refinished to suit the new owner’s taste.