Refurbished office furniture is now a real alternative to new furniture, bringing substantial cost savings and sustainability benefits. This article takes you through the different levels of refurbished office furniture available and what to look out for.

Thanks to advances in surface treatment and coating technologies, as well as improved furniture design, office furniture can now be refurbished to a very high standard if required.

Of course, the more work done, the greater the cost. Below are the 3 levels that Rype Office uses to categorise refurbished office furniture.

You may choose to take your existing furniture to one of these levels, or use this as a guide when buying refurbished office furniture.

  1. Refreshed

Think of this as a facial. All elements are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Scuff marks, dust and grime are removed from hard surfaces. Plastic is rejuvenated and minor scratches resurfaced. Upholstery is cleaned using a carpet/upholstery cleaner. Mechanisms are tested and repaired/replaced if broken. For cabinets, a new key is supplied if missing.

This is the lowest priced refurbished office furniture option and has a very small environmental footprint. Of course it does not change the colour of the furniture or remove substantial scratches, so when buying furniture from the second hand market to refresh, choose pieces with minor scratching to match your colour palette [editors note: this is what Rype Office does when selecting furniture from its second hand trade network to refresh for its clients].

In our language, the resulting furniture is Grade B: its appearance is consistent with a new piece of furniture that has been in use for a year.

Refreshed furniture is great for matching with existing items, for example when you take on 50 new staff and you don’t want your existing 100 staff to feel unloved because the new staff are receiving brand new furniture.

  1. Resurfaced

This is like a facelift and includes re-powder coating or respraying metal surfaces, re-coating plastic and reupholstering fabrics where needed. For desks and tables, this can include replacing the top. To be cost-effective, resurfacing only occurs on visible parts of refurbished office furniture item.

All other surfaces are thoroughly cleaned and repairs are made where needed so the item is fully operational.

We call the result Grade A, which we describe as “indistinguishable from new from a distance of 2m by the naked eye in good light”.

  1. Remanufactured/Remade

This is reconstructive surgery. This takes the long life components from an item (such as steel frames), checks/replaces them, resurfaces them, and then rebuilds the item around them with new or remade parts. The result looks and performs as new and is indistinguishable from new up close.

Remanufacturing means you can specify your preferred colours and finishes for a fraction of the cost and environmental footprint of new (most of the cost and footprint is in the metal components). The environmental savings have been calculated at over 80% of a piece made from virgin materials (see References in the footnotes).

For more on remanufacturing go to What is Remanufactured Office Furniture?

We call this Grade A+ and you will not be able to tell it apart from new, except for the price tag which will be less than half the new list price.


In conclusion, there are 3 levels of refurbished office furniture to consider – all creating substantial cost savings and environmental benefits and involving few compromises.



Rype Office offers office design assistance and the full range of refurbished office furniture options. Using its extensive second hand furniture trade network and distributorships with furniture manufacturers, Rype Office sources high quality items to furnish complete offices at budget-friendly prices and with a small environmental footprint.



The benefits of remanufacturing compared to new have been calculated as:

  • 85% production energy use reduction (Source: Giuntini, R., Gaudette, K. Remanufacturing: The next great opportunity for boosting US productivity, Business Horizons, Nov-Dec 2003, p. 44)
  • 80% materials saving (Source: McKenna, R. President and CEO, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, Testimony before the International Trade Commission on: Remanufactured Goods: An Overview of the U.S. and Global Industries, Markets, and Trade, Investigation No. 332-525, Feb 2012)
  • >90% water saving (Source: Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) , Singapore website
  • >80% reduction in emissions (Source: ARTC)

Example Refurbished Office Furniture