We’ve had many customers ask if our furniture is solid wood but on questioning a little further, most struggle to explain why they want solid wood other than ‘well it’s better than veneer isn’t it?’. Read on to find out the truth behind veneer furniture…
Most of our furniture is solid wood but despite the popular belief that solid wood is ‘better quality’ than its veneered counterparts in reality it’s more complicated than that. Cabinet makers will say that factors of thickness, workmanship and condition determine whether veneering is good or bad.
Poor craftsmanship using solid wood will result in poor products, just as skilled craftsmanship can produce a top end quality veneered furniture. At LPC Furniture we believe it’s our job to keep you informed so you can you make the right decision when it comes to buying your perfect piece of furniture.
Wood veneer has been used for centuries as a common substitute for solid wood. A very thin slice of log is glued and bonded to another material – generally solid limber Plymouth or medium density fibreboard (more commonly known as MDF).
The bad reputation comes from low quality MDF and especially cheap particle board which is notorious for its relatively low strength and tendency to swell through moisture absorption.
A big difference involved in quality is based on the product that lies beneath the veneer. Lower end products tend to be constructed with particle board of which again there are varying qualities.
Previous shopping experience at low budget big box chains has also damaged the veneer furniture reputation due to selling case goods that have paper thin veneers laminated on low quality particle board. They are not priced to last, and as such, are not built to last.
This furniture is not a good representation of available veneered products. Wood veneers generally range in thickness from paper thin (which cannot be sanded and refinished), to thicker veneers which are more durable and accommodating.
The problem with great quality veneered furniture, is that it costs a lot more than you’d expect, as the majority of people assume that veneer furniture should be cheap, thus they refuse to spend more, picking the lower end product… which only then reinforces the idea that veneer furniture is of low quality, a catch-22. Although you don’t need to spend a fortune, the cliché saying “buy cheap, buy twice” firmly remains a good guide when buying furniture.
Veneers too are very durable; however, since veneers are made up of a thin piece of wood over a substrate, sometimes deep scratches cannot be sanded out without exposing the substrate.
Aesthetically, it depends on your choosing. Currently it is popular for modern minimalistic to have a consistency in pattern and colour. If you want more control over the look of your wood, and for it to match other furniture perfectly, than veneer furniture would be the right choice for you.
Solid wood, although has benefits that veneer does not, it also has unique disadvantages which require careful consideration before buying. Wood is a living thing and as such has its own natural tendencies. Annual cycles of expanding and contracting seasonally differ in various environments. This is why solid wood’s biggest problem is the susceptibility to splitting, cracking, warping and general movement.
Even if you had the finest solid wood product on the market, if you place your furniture near a window in the middle of a cold winter, with a heat register blowing warm air underneath it, it’s not going to be good for your furniture. It will withstand for a while, but eventually it will crack, warp and split. Fortunately if you take this into consideration and do not place your furniture next to heating ducts or radiators, or in drastic hot and cold conditions your solid wood furniture should stand the test of time.
Both veneer and solid wood both have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to repairing. The advantage of solid wood is that it can be brought back more easily from severe damage, and thus protecting investments, or heirloom furniture from being thrown away. Solid wood furniture will last centuries if it’s made well and looked after.
Tightly fitted solid joinery is hard to beat for durability. The beauty of solid wood is that surface imperfections may be sanded out and the furniture can be refinished. Moreover, even if solid wood is left unrepaired, it won’t look too bad – in fact, worn edges and dents are part of the appeal of old or newly distressed wood pieces.
Solid wood’s visual charm is in the eye of the beholder. Knots and different grains are different on every piece – no two pieces of solid wood furniture look the same. This is the appeal to most people who choose to buy solid wood furniture, there’s more of a story and uniqueness then engineered furniture, especially when it comes to distressed or reclaimed furniture.
So there you have it, both types of solid wood and veneer furniture have their pros and cons. Since both veneer and solid wood make an appearance in antique furniture it proves both styles of cabinetry can last a lifetime if made to a high standard.
If you’re unsure of how to choose something that will last, then ask about the quality, the thickness of the wood and how to care for it. Send us an email at [email protected] or pop in store and talk to one of our knowledgeable staff members.