How to Fix Wobbly Furniture in a Rental: 3 Quick & Easy Tricks

Guide Articles Mar 22, 2022

Wobbly furniture can be a real nightmare. Whether you’ve just moved into a new rental and your landlord has supplied you with wobbly furniture, or your existing stuff has suddenly become wobbly, don’t worry!

Even though wobbly furniture is a nightmare, it’s not an unfixable nightmare. If your landlord supplied the item, you don’t have to just live with it. But you don’t have to spend a fortune fixing it either.

And, if the furniture’s yours, you don’t have to replace it just because it’s started to rock (and not in a good way!). It can often be much quicker, cheaper and better for the environment to simply fix it up.

In this article, we’ll share all our tips and tricks on how to fix wobbly furniture quickly, easily and cheaply.

What Causes Furniture to Wobble?

Before we get started, it’s important to understand some of the reasons why your furniture may be wobbling. While you may suspect you broke something, and it’s your fault, this isn’t always the case. It could be caused by something completely out of your control.

Here are four of the most common reasons why furniture starts to wobble.

Poor Construction

Usually, if your furniture starts to wobble out of the blue, the cause will almost always be because it was poorly constructed. As temperatures naturally fluctuate in our homes, wooden furniture expands and cools. If the furniture isn’t built to withstand the fluctuations, the legs can become loose, causing the entire thing to wobble. This is often unavoidable as it’s hard to know whether an item is poorly constructed when you buy it.

Bad (or Poorly Applied) Glue

Most wooden furniture is held together with some kind of wood glue. If the glue the manufacturer used isn’t very good or has been poorly applied (with not enough glue or an uneven amount of glue between the joints), the legs can become loose and start to wobble over time.

Loose Joints

Some furniture will have metal joints to hold things together rather than glue. With metal joints, you need a bit of flexibility to allow for some movement. Without wiggle room, the joint can become loose as you use the table or chair. Naturally, when the joint becomes loose, the chair or table becomes wobbly!

Uneven Flooring

Sometimes, the root cause of the issue isn’t related to your furniture at all. It could actually be that your flooring is uneven and is therefore causing your table, desk or chair to wobble. It’s often quite obvious if this is the root cause of the issue since all your furniture in a certain spot may be wobbly. Another sign that this could be the issue is if your furniture didn’t wobble in your last rental, but it does now.

Related article: A renters’ checklist: first things to do when you move somewhere new

What You’ll Need to Fix Wobbly Furniture

You’ll need different equipment to fix wobbly furniture depending on the root cause of the issue and what type of furniture you need to fix.

As a rough guide…

To fix wobbly desks, cabinets, chests of drawers, tables or something you don’t frequently move, you may need:

  • A level
  • A cloth
  • Glue
  • A pencil
  • A drill with a variety of drill bits
  • A hammer
  • A wrench
  • Sellotape
  • Furniture levellers
  • Furniture shims

To fix wobbly chairs, you may need:

  • Replacement legs with fixings
  • A drill with a variety of drill bits
  • A hammer
  • A screwdriver

Alongside these things, you’ll also need a bit of patience!

Fixing wobbly furniture can be one of those tedious DIY tasks we all hate doing. So, the best way to get through this is to prepare yourself for a potentially frustrating (yet, eventually, rewarding) experience before you get started!

How to Stabilise Wobbly Furniture: 3 Quick, Cheap & Simple Hacks

If you’re renting a furnished property and you broke your furniture, fixing it quickly and cheaply is the best way to avoid issues with your landlord when you move out.

Alternatively, if your landlord has supplied you with wobbly furniture (and buying new stuff isn’t an option for you), there are some quick, cheap and easy ways to stabilise the goods.

Here are our three quick, cheap and simple hacks to help you fix wobbly furniture in a rental.

Related article: Renting furnished vs unfurnished: what are the pros & cons?

Fit Furniture Shims

The quickest way to fix wobbly furniture (without spending a lot of time or money on it) is to fit furniture shims to the problem items. If you’ve ever been in a restaurant and someone has stuck some folded tissue or cardboard under the table to stop it from wobbling, furniture shims are basically the fancy version of this!

They are usually small, thin devices made from plastic or rubber that you simply slot underneath your furniture to prevent it from wobbling. Usually, you can buy shims in the same colour as your furniture or floor, so it blends in or in a clear, transparent colour (for the same reason).

Shims are usually a temporary solution to the wobbling issue. Plus, they only really work on furniture you don’t move often. They wouldn’t work, for example, on a dining room chair since you’ll likely be moving this around constantly.

Here’s what you’ll need to install furniture shims:

  • Furniture shims
  • A level
  • Glue (optional)

Here’s how to install furniture shims in a few simple steps:

  1. Place a level on top of your furniture.
  2. Lift your furniture in uneven areas and slide the shim underneath.
  3. Repeat in all problem areas until the furniture is level.
  4. If you want, you can glue the shims in place (although this isn’t recommended if the item belongs to your landlord as it could be classed as damaged).

Related article: How to get your rent deposit back in full

2. Use Furniture Levellers

Another quick, cheap and simple hack to stabilise wobbly furniture is to buy a set of furniture levellers.

To stop your furniture from wobbling, you install these small devices (by screwing them in) into the bottom of all your furniture’s legs. Then, manually adjust each leveller’s heights until your furniture is stable.

These levellers usually have a rubber base, so they can also make your furniture non-slip. Plus, they can prevent scuff marks on hardwood or laminate flooring.

Because of how levellers work, it’s usually best to install levellers on a cabinet, desk, sofa, chests of drawers, table, or something else that you don’t often move around because of how levellers work. They won’t work very well on a dining room chair.

Here’s what equipment you’ll need to install a furniture leveller:

  • Furniture levellers
  • A cloth
  • A pencil
  • A drill and suitable drill bit
  • A hammer
  • A wrench
  • A level
  • Sellotape

To install furniture levellers, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Read the safety instructions provided with the leveller.
  2. Turn your furniture upside down.
  3. Clean the bottom of the legs with a cloth
  4. Use a pencil to mark the centre of the chair leg (this is where you’ll need to drill the hole)
  5. Put the furniture leveller against your drill bit and mark the depth you need to drill onto the drill bit using tape.
  6. Drill the hole.
  7. Use a hammer to gently tap the T-nut (which comes with the leveller) into the furniture leg.
  8. Screw the levelling foot into the leg.
  9. Turn your furniture back the right way around and use a wrench and a level to adjust the height of each leveller and stabilise your item.

3. Replace Legs

Another way to fully fix wobbly furniture is to replace the legs that are causing the problem. This fix isn’t quite as quick and easy as the other solutions mentioned, but it can fix the issue long-term. It’s also the only real solution you can use on a dining room chair that’s wobbly since levellers and shims aren’t really ideal for use on things you frequently move around.

If you only need to replace one chair leg, you can build a new leg from scratch or buy a replacement leg that matches the others. However, if you can’t find the same chair leg (or you don’t have the tools to make your own matching leg), you can simply replace all the chair legs. This will be more expensive, but it’s the easiest way to get the job done right.

Here’s what equipment you’ll need to replace broken or uneven chair legs:

  • New chair legs and fixings (also known as top plates)
  • A drill and a suitable drill bit
  • A screwdriver or hammer (depending on how the chair is currently fixed together)

You’ll need to read the instructions provided with your new chair legs to know how to fix them. But, as a general guide, here’s what you may need to do to replace the legs on a chair:

  1. Read the instructions provided with the new chair legs
  2. Turn the chair upside down and remove the old legs – you may need to use a hammer if the chair is nailed together or a screwdriver if there are screws
  3. Mark the base of the chair’s underside with where you’d like the new legs to be fitted – if there are too many holes on the base of the chair that will prevent you from securely fixing the new legs, you may need to add a baseboard to the underside of the chair
  4. Fix the top plates to the underside of the chair
  5. Using the hole in the middle of the top plates as a guide, use the drill and a suitable drill bit to create a hole in the chair for the new chair leg bolt to go into
  6. Add the bolts (which should be attached to the new chair legs)
  7. Tighten the new legs and turn your furniture the right way around again

Will Wobbly Furniture Lose Me My Deposit?

When you first signed the lease with your landlord, they should have provided you with a good amount of information about what could cause you to lose your deposit.

As a general guide, damage to the property, breakages to furnishings, losing items or leaving the property in an untidy state when you move out are all things that will likely lose you some or all your security deposit.

Related article: How to decide if a lifetime deposit is right for you

However, landlords should not charge tenants for things that are considered ‘reasonable wear and tear’. This usually means they can’t charge you for a few scuff marks on the walls, worn carpet or a piece of furniture that has worsened in condition over time.

Whether you’re likely to lose your deposit because of wobbly furniture is debatable and really depends on what’s in your lease agreement. Generally, wobbly furniture is caused by normal wear and tear, as the more you use the table, chair or cabinet, the more likely it is to weaken over time.

Also, the cause of wobbly furniture is usually due to poor construction, which worsens over time, which is generally considered normal wear and tear. This should mean that, just because your desk, dining room table or chair has become a bit wobbly, you shouldn’t be liable to pay for it from your deposit.

Related article: Can you rent without a deposit?

However, if you’re concerned about whether a wobbly item on your landlords’ inventory is going to be an issue when you move out, it’s best to check with the letting agent or ask your local Citizen’s Advice for help.

Conclusion

Well, that’s that! We hope one of these quick and easy ways to fix wobbly furniture can help you live a happier, wobble-free life in your rental.

For more renting and decorating advice, feel free to check out some of our other handy guides for renters.

About to rent a new home?

If you’re preparing to move to a new rental, have you already started saving to pay for your tenancy deposit? At Fronted, we know that making an upfront cash payment can be tricky – especially if you have to pay your new deposit upfront before getting any of your old ones back.

Lifetime Deposits are a perfect solution for renters like you where your deposit moves home with you. Check out the details of how our Lifetime Deposits work or join our waiting list to be the first to use them when they launch.

Will Southall

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