how to shop for a used bed

How to Shop for a Used Bed

How to Shop for a Used Bed

Feature Photo by Reclaimed Rustics

So, you’ve been sleeping on Aunt Jean’s tried and true solid wood headboard and footboard and it just doesn’t work for you anymore.  You are on a budget, but you are ready to find something that works better with your decor.  One of the more difficult pieces to buy used is a bed.  There are several things you want to factor in when considering how to shop for a used bed.

Know Before You Go

Before you make your way to the nearest thrift store or consignment shop or boot up the old computer to peruse Craig’s List, be  prepared with answers to the following questions.

  • What size do we need?Mattress Size Chart

Determining what size bed you will purchase depends primarily on the space you have in your bedroom.  If you are having trouble sleeping due to partner movement, consider stepping up to a size larger.  If you are working with a small space take that into consideration.  To the right is a size chart for mattresses from the International Sleep Products Association. Remember to add a few more inches to accommodate for the frame.

  • Headboard or Headboard/Footboard

A headboard improves the look of the bed, but minimally increases its footprint, so if you have limited space, go with headboard only. A headboard only is not quite as stable as the combination, so if you have the space, choose a headboard/footboard.

  • Wood or Metal? Dark or Light Stained?

You will save a ton of time and confusion if you have an idea what construction you are looking for.  The more you know before you go, the more you can be focused on getting the best deal for your new bed.

  • Hook-in or bolt-on?

You may or may not have a choice as to whether you want hook-in rails or bolt-on rails, but it’s good to know the difference and advantages and disadvantages.  The hook-in rails, if made of good construction, can really pull the bed together and make it very stable.  The biggest problems we find with hook-in is that the metal hooks detach from the side rails (if the side rails are wood) and the slot where the rail hooks in will tend to crack over time.  Hook in rails may not have as long of a life span, but they can prevent bed shake.  Older hook-in rails may also allow the bed to rock back and forth.  Bolt on rails are harder to install and may allow the bed to rock more, but are more durable over time.

Now, It Is Time to Go Shopping!

how to shop for a used bedNow, it is true that I am a consignment store owner, however, I am setting my bias aside when I recommend consignment stores or individuals when purchasing a used bed.  I love thrift stores, but when it comes to a bed, it often ends up there because the previous owner had problems with it.  Consignment stores tend to be more selective in what they take and they pre-screen it for you.  If they run into a problem when assembling the bed, they send it back or drop it off at the local thrift store.  And if purchased from an individual, you can ask all the appropriate questions before you buy.

Key Considerations when Buying a Used Bed

  • Does the bed rock when you move the headboard/footboard?
  • Are the points where the bed attached to the bed solid?  Check for cracks in construction.
  • If the bed is an antique, make sure it is a true Full or true Twin size.  Bed sizes weren’t standardized until between 1870 and 1910 (see this article).  These in between sizes can be converted, but be aware bef0re you buy.
  • Is all the hardware available? Again, this is an easy fix, but you need to know before you buy.
  • Is the height of the bed going to be an issue?
  • Will you need to buy or cut your own slats?

Happy resale shopping for your “new” used bed!  


Kevin is the founder of New Leaf Consignment Galleries. He started the business in June of 2009 and has expanded to 2 company locations (Auburn, AL and Columbus, GA) and 1 licensed location (Wetumpka, AL). He is still operating the Auburn New Leaf store.

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