Many times people shopping for furniture are unsure about the difference between wood veneers and solid wood. In fact, many people mistakenly assume that veneered furniture is inferior to or cheaper than solid wood. However, veneers are often used for high-end furniture pieces and can be more costly than solid wood. To help you decide which type of wood material is best for your space, we've compared everything you need to know about the two including the pros & cons of each. But first here's a little history about the wood veneers.
Veneering is actually an ancient art used by Egyptians that dates back 3,000 BC when veneers were used on their furniture and sarcophagi. Wood was scarce in the desert climate covered of sand, therefore it was a rarity and valued as much as precious gems that were used to artistically adorn furniture. This led them to developed tools to saw thin sheets of precious wood and arrange them into delicate surface patterns. They used method in an effort to extend the use of available woods. Also, beautiful shrines that were discovered in 1922 in Tutankhamun’s tomb bear witness to the primitive method of wood processing that was commonly practiced back then, while displaying a natural elegance of the inner structure of the wood.
What is wood veneer?
Wood veneer furniture is constructed by gluing thin layers of wood veneers together with the grain at right layers over a thick core. Using this crisscross design, it reduces the chances of splitting or cracking. The same waterproof adhesive used in aircraft and marine construction is also used to in this process, thus, creating a product that is stronger than the natural solid wood.
High quality veneer furniture will have a solid core and the furniture’s legs, posts, doors or drawer fronts will be straight-grain solid wood.
Advantages: Wood veneer furniture pieces use a minimal amount of natural solid wood, making them more affordable. It's environmentally friendly since veneer isn’t cut from the log instead it’s sliced with a knife – like thin potatoes – into sheets. This reduces waste and more wood can be used. Wood veneers are also less prone to the splintering and warping that can come from an all-wood design.
Disadvantages: It's more challenging to build. During construction, if you sand through a layer of veneer in preparation for finishing it is impossible to repair and frequently involves a redesign or making a difficult repair and hide. However, once the piece is completed the thinness of the wood veneer is of no concern. Wood veneers are attached to fiberboard, which are not as heavy as natural solid wood boards. Liquids to be absorbed through the wood easier if wood veneers are not coated with a surface polish. And unlike solid wood, once damaged, wood veneers can be difficult or costly to repair.
Best for: Shoppers looking for lighter pieces that are easier to lift and to move around, budget and environmentally friendly.
What is solid wood furniture?
Solid wood furniture is all exposed parts are made completely from natural wood and will not contain plywood or particle board.
Advantages: Solid wood furniture is durable and it's easier to repair such as scratches, dents, water marks, stains, and etc. Most forms of damage can be fixed with sanding. The worse the damage, the more expensive it will be to repair of course, but it will be easier and less expensive than veneer furniture. While solid hardwoods will often outperform veneers in terms of durability, softer woods such as cedar are rising in popularity for their susceptibility to distress, patina and other 'rustic chic' signs of aging.
Disadvantages: When solid wood furniture is exposed to extreme atmospheric conditions, it will cause it to expand or contract leading to cracks or splits along the wood grains of the furniture design. While some furniture now come with a systems to prevent this from happening, it is still recommended to avoid exposing solid wood furniture to strong sunlight or direct heat sources for prolonged periods of time.
Best for: Shoppers looking for durability, easy to repair, minimal maintenance and an all-natural aesthetic.
Purchasing furniture can be challenging sometimes, specially if you are on a tight budget or are constantly moving. Good quality furniture can last you about 10 -15 years, while the finest best quality furniture will be more expensive but can last you a lifetime. The good news is that there are plenty of great furniture that fits everyone's budget and needs. Whether you're looking for long-term or short-term ownership, it's essential to understand the factors that can affect quality when making any sensible purchase.