With all of the furniture choices available you can be forgiven for being confused about what material is actually best. With the choice of solid hardwood, veneer wood and laminate furniture how are you supposed to know what is best? Well here is a quick a dirty summary of the advantages of each material.
Oak, Walnut, Ash all of these are solid hardwoods used when making furniture along with hundreds more. Durability and look are the main reasons for using solid hardwood in furniture. It gives you that natural look that works perfectly for more traditional styles of furniture, but its limitations mean that it can be difficult to push the design envelope with it. Solid wood is also subject to warping over time as it expands and contracts with the season. As a result it requires a lot of skilled maintenance to make sure it remains pristine throughout its life.
Made by adhering, with a waterproof adhesive, very thin layers of hardwood to a solid core usually made from plywood or MDF. Veneer wood has a number of design benefits by allowing for more intricate placement of wood grains and the use of more interesting grains which would be structurally unsound as solid wood. This leads to a more design focused product and is a reason that this is often used by the Italian furniture industry.
People are often led to believe that this is an inferior product from hardwood, however veneers themselves can often be more expensive than solid woods, as the trees used to make them are often the most interesting and high quality. Moreover the cutting of veneers is much more environmentally friendly than solid wood, as it is possible to get around 32 sheets of veneer for every plank of timber for solid wood furniture, with no waste sawdust.
Seen as the cheapest option for furniture, laminate has come on leaps and bounds from the boring brown wood and limited selections of the recent past. Laminate these days now offers designers far more options than solid wood and veneer combined because the colour variations now available, both wood effect and other patterns and textures. Designers can match any colour or texture that they could have ever desired allowing them to push design to new levels. Laminate’s best feature is its durability. It won’t fade in sunlight and the finish will not wear off over time. Maintaining it is simply a case of wiping it with a damp cloth as it will not stain. Laminate does not contain wood on the outer layer and so is cheaper to manufacture and also purchase. However that does not mean that it is an inferior piece of furniture with the potential to last as long as any other item in your home with minimal maintenance.
Now that you know the differences, don’t be swayed by anyone telling you what woods, veneers or laminates mean for your furniture choice. Buy the item that you like, the finish that fits in your home and don’t get hung up on the marketing.