What’s the difference between veneer, laminate and solid wood?

Understanding what separates these different woods will help you make the right decision when it comes to furnishing your venue.

When choosing an item of furniture for your establishment, there is a lot to consider. You’ll know from experience that it’s not simply about choosing a piece that looks good – you need to consider elements like durability, size, framework and material as well as aesthetics. One of the queries which can cause the most confusion is the kind of wood used, as there are so many different options out there.

To help make things clearer for you, we’re laying out the difference between the three most popular options: veneer, laminate and solid wood.

Everything you need to know about… veneer

Veneer is a layer of hardwood defined by its thinness, as it is usually thinner than 1/8 of an inch. In most situations, veneer is glued with adhesive or otherwise bonded to a different surface underneath, such as an alternative wood or particle board. It is often used to give manufacturers greater flexibility, achieving a premium finish at a lower cost than would be the case with solid wood.

Veneer has been used in furniture design for many years, with dark walnut veneer often featuring in mid century pieces and teak veneer appearing in Danish modern items.

Like other real woods, veneer can be sanded along the grain, stained and painted. However, care must be taken not to overdo it as the wood is very thin and can easily be worn down through sanding.

Everything you need to know about… laminate

Laminate is known for its glossy finish. It is usually made with synthetic materials or very thinly cut slices of wood. In some cases laminate is made to appear like wood grain using a printing process. As well as having a shiny finish, laminate is also known for being used on furniture products that require a very durable surface. Of the three options (laminate, veneer and solid wood), laminate is the most cost effective to produce.

Some of the benefits of laminate include the fact that it is extremely easy to clean and maintain, which makes it a viable option for rooms designed for children, or in areas where you’re expecting a lot of wear. However, the fact that laminate is not technically real wood can put some people off, although it can still be sanded to remove the glossy finish, primed and painted with thin layers of paint.

Everything you need to know about… solid wood

Most of what you need to know about solid wood is in the name. It is, put simply, solid wood and nothing else. This means that furniture made using solid wood can be sanded, stained, varnished, painted and treated. It can also be used in the manufacture of many different furniture items, including tables, drawers, wardrobes, shelving and bookcases to create a variety of different styles – from modern to rustic.

Solid wood can generally be split into two categories: softwood and hardwood. Softwood items are usually easier to craft to fit a certain specification, but can show wear over time, especially on the edges and corners. Hardwood however is more demanding to use in manufacture, but it does boast a more durable end result and a longer lifespan.

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