Here's the truth about wood veneer...

By Andrew Morton

It's one of the most common questions I get asked when we begin a commission. There's a certain stigma that comes with veneer, a belief that furniture made from it a something to avoid. This is a rather unfair perception. Let's look at the facts.

Veneer, fake or fortune?

Veneer is applied to core board. This warps less than solid wood, giving veneered furniture added durability. Solid wood is a living product, so is more susceptible to expanding and contracting with differing temperatures, leading to an increased risk of the product cracking. With solid wood, what you see is what you get. With veneer, you can select the exact finish and grain, so have more control of the appearance. This is an added bonus when trying to match up to other furniture pieces. Veneer is more readily available as lots of thin slices are cut from a single piece of wood, making it much more sustainable than solid wood. So good for the planet too. Cost-wise, veneer can certainly be cheaper, but its not a given. It depends on the species and onto what substrate the veneer is applied. 

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Why wood you?

Solid wood instantly gives off that impression of expense and quality. It has stood the test of time which is why it is still so coveted today. No matter how old a piece of solid wood is,10 years, 50 years or even 100 years, it never looks out of place. The general wear and tear, like dents and scratches, are well known to add further character to a furniture piece. Another plus to using solid wood, is that if you want to get rid of any lumps and bumps, or give it a face-lift with a bit of sanding, then you can. This isn't possible with wood veneer as the veneer sheet itself is so thin that even a little sanding would eventually expose the core-board. Cost-wise, it is no longer a dead-cert that solid wood is more expensive than veneer.

In a nutshell...

I would recommend veneer every time. Not only do you have flexibility on finishes, it stands the test of time with no need for ongoing maintenance. Having said that, if our client wants solid wood then we would certainly provide this, but make it clear that ongoing maintenance is a must.

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