How Much Time Does It Take to Flip Furniture

Written by Jessica Mitchel

I've been flipping furniture for profit for over eight months. I like to share all of the tips, tricks, and learning lessons along the way.

May 28, 2022

Every time I post a cost breakdown video on Instagram, somebody always comments asking how much time it took to flip the piece.

It’s an important question. Not only is it good to know so I can measure out roughly how much I’m making each hour on a flip, but it’s also useful when it comes to planning my time and analyzing how I can save time on my furniture flips.

But I don’t really have a good answer for them.

I can roughly estimate how many hours it takes to flip a piece of furniture, but it’s just a guess. I normally flip furniture pieces over a few days, if not weeks depending on the piece and don’t really have a system to track the time I’m spending.

Obviously, I’m not flipping furniture during that entire duration, but how long am I actually spending?

So I decided that on my next flip, I’d time exactly how long it took to flip the piece. Every step along the way, I’d time so that I could finally get an answer to this important question.

It just so happened that my next flip was going to be this tv stand.

This is another piece of furniture that I found out for trash. It had a broken leg and was in desperate need of a paint job.

I was worried this piece would take awhile to flip, not giving a totally accurate representation of how long it takes to flip a piece of furniture. But every piece of furniture is going to have its own quirks and special requirements for having a successful flip.

I was worried this piece would take awhile to flip, not giving a totally accurate representation of how long it takes to flip a piece of furniture. But every piece of furniture is going to have its own quirks and special requirements for having a successful flip.

Even if this flip takes longer than normal, it will still give an idea of how long it can take to flip a piece of furniture.

To get as much of a realistic representation as possible, I created five rules for this experiment.

  1. I will only include the time I am actively working on the piece. This means I won’t include the time for finding the furniture, selling the furniture, setup, or getting materials.
  2. I will use a stopwatch to measure the time, but will round to the nearest minute.
  3. I will limit distractions like tv, which will inevitably make me take longer than it should.
  4. I will categorize each timing based on the task to better analyze where I can save time.
  5. I will not skip any steps or leave anything out, even if something unexpected comes up. If I’m actively working on it, it counts. Like when both of my sanders decided to die on me. I kept in the time i spent using my sander even when it was dying and going a lot slower than normal- this is reality. But I didn’t include the time it took me to go to Home Depot and buy a new sander.

So, I automatically broke one of these rules on my very first step- cleaning. I decided to do this experiment after I had already cleaned the piece, so I had no choice but to guess how long it took to clean this piece.

But this is the only time I estimated during this entire experiment.

And then I just went about this flip like normal. I filled in holes. Sanded it down. Primed. Painted. Stained. Did a top coat.

And I timed everything.

As I went through, I was surprised. Some tasks took me longer than expected, but most tasks took me a lot less time than anticipated.

Overall, I spent 8 hours and 20 min flipping this tv stand. Here’s the breakdown of that timing by task.

  • Cleaning: 15 min
  • Sanding: 1 hr 49 min
  • Fixing leg: 17 min
  • Filling holes and taping: 12 min
  • Shellac: 12 min
  • Priming: 41 min
  • Painting: 4 hr 9 min
  • Staining: 14 min
  • Top coat: 28 min
  • Handles: 3 min

I’m glad that I decided to split up the timing into categories because now I can better analyze which areas of the flip are taking the most time and where I can improve.

So here is what I learned from this experiment.

  • Not all tasks take as long as I expected. When I did my first round of sanding, I thought I’d been sanding for at least half an hour. So I was surprised when I stopped the timer at 8 minutes… This just goes to show that the previous times I’ve “estimated” how long it took to flip, it was probably completely inaccurate. My sense of timing was way off for a lot of these areas.
  • Not all flips will take so long to paint. I made mention of this at the beginning of this video, but I wanted to reiterate it here. Not all flips are going to take this long to flip and there will be some that take longer. Every flip is difference. You can use these timings as a guideline for your flips and maybe a way to plan your timing, but just know that it will be different for every flip, especially depending on what you decide to do with your flip. This flip had a lot of surface area to paint which is why it took so long.
  • This will give me a good baseline for estimating how long it’ll take to flip future pieces which will come in handy for time management, commission pieces, and better estimating if my time will be recouped when I sell it.

So with all this in mind, where could I have saved time on this flip?

  • Using a sprayer. A sprayer definitely cuts down on time, but I’ve been hesitant to go back to using my sprayer because I haven’t quite figured out all of the settings yet. I’m still figuring out what the proper paint to water ratio should be and perfecting my technique. Of course, if I don’t keep trying the sprayer and working on my technique it will never get easier and quicker so I just have to do it. 
  • Not sanding down the top to bare wood- Doing a scuff sand doesn’t take much time, which was what I had to do for the majority of the tv stand. But I did sand down the top to bare wood so that I could stain it. This does take a decent amount of time because you have to get all of the layers of stain off. Keep this in mind when planning what to do with your piece. 
  • Not making as many mistakes. Mistakes obviously add time. With every flip, I make some sort of mistake, it’s inevitable but there are some fundamental things that shouldn’t really be missed. One of those things on the tv stand was missing holes. There were a lot of spots I missed when I was filling holes. And trying to make the piece perfect, I kept going back in to fill holes, even after I had already painted. That just added on painting time. 
  • Better planning in the beginning- knobs And shellac. Planning can save you tons of time and steps. On this piece, I filled in the holes for the knobs only to drill them back out. I used shellac on the whole piece thinking I’d paint it white just to paint it all black- that step was unnecessary. I also did an entire coat in white paint, knowing the coverage would probably be sub par, wasting time and paint.

All of these are learning lessons and part of the furniture flipping process. they’re not a bad thing, but it is important to note which are costing you more time on your flip.

So that’s the end of this experiment. It took me a total of 8 hours and 20 minutes to flip this piece. Longer than I would have like, but not as bad as it could have been.

If you’re a furniture flipper, I would recommend timing your next furniture flip. It’ll give you some good insights into where you’re spending the majority of your time and help you learn where you could potentially save time on your flips.

That’s a very big key to a furniture flipping side hustle. You have limited hours to flip, so saving time is a big deal. It could allow you to flip more pieces, spend more time on the backend of your business, or have more time for yourself.

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