And one of the key things you must look out for is the type of wood used in your carpentry – is it real, solid wood or wood veneer?
However, it’s not so straightforward if you’re just shopping for ready-made furniture such as wardrobes. The majority of furniture companies today use a combination of veneer and real wood in their products.
What Is Wood Veneer?
Wood veneer is a multi-layered type of wood material. It consists of a thin layer of wood glued onto a wooden board, so the final products looks and feels of natural wood.
You’ll most commonly find wood veneer in larger pieces of wooden furniture such as feature wall panels, wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, and even floors.
If you’re going for the calm, minimal, and curvy class of interior design, chances are, your curved cabinets will be made from wood veneer – all thanks to the versatile nature of wood veneer.
What Is Solid Wood?
Solid wood, on the other hand, conventionally refer to wood that is directly cut (or lumbered) from real trees.
These days, solid wood is also loosely used to refer to wooden materials that are not hollow. That means your plywood, fiberboards, and veneers could also count as “solid wood”.
Hence, always be sure to ask your contractor or interior designer exactly which type of wood they are using.
Is Veneer Better Than Solid Wood?
What advantages does veneer have over solid woods? There are several benefits of wood veneer – more environmentally-friendly, cheaper, more versatile, more design possibilities, lightweight.
Some veneer designs include cross-grain designs such as edge banding that is impossible to achieve with solid wood, says Nikki Hunt, director of Design Intervention.
What Are Disadvantages of Veneer Wood?
Unlike other materials, wood veneer is more prone to scratches, water damage, and is non-repairable.
Since there’s a layer of thin wood stuck onto another wooden board, the top veneer also tends to peel at the edges – especially so if your furniture sits by the window and is exposed to heat, cold, humidity, and rain. (My childhood built-in wardrobe’s veneer was extensively damaged over the years.)
Maintenance is almost impossible – once the wood veneer peels, you can never repair it. You can duct tape it back on your own, but even your duct tape may not withstand the natural warping of the wood veneer. There is, unfortunately, no way to repair. The only way is to tear down the entire structure and redo it.
Is Solid Wood Better?
So, is solid wood better then? Yes, and no. As with all home furnishing, furniture, and interior design choices, it really depends on your lifestyle’s needs.
Main disadvantages of solid wood include its hefty price tag, weight, and the environmental concern it poses. Solid wood furniture and floorings are also more susceptible to moisture, mould, and household insects in the likes of ants and termites.
Should you buy solid wood furniture?
Ask yourself some questions – do you intend to stay put in this house for the rest of your life and pass on your treasured and expensive solid wood furniture pieces to your children and grand-children? If yes, then go ahead to get yourself some good quality solid wood furniture.
If you, however, plan to rent out your HDB or sell it after the five- or ten-year MOP period, then you should consider the lightweight and cheaper wood veneer instead. Moving precious solid wood furniture may end up being too costly (and they may not fit into the lifts of your new condo or flat).
3 Types of Wood Furniture
There are generally four types of wood used in carpentry and furniture. They are namely:
- Completely solid wood
- Fully veneered wood
- Part-solid and part-veneered wood
The Series 7 chair by Arne Jacobsen is made by pressure-moulding many layers of veneer.
How Can You Tell The Difference Between Veneer vs Solid Wood?
There are five obvious ways you can tell the difference between solid wood and wood veneer:
- Weight: Solid wood furniture is usually heavier than a veneered piece. Carved details would also mean a piece is made of solid wood.
- Feel the Grain: You’ll be able to feel the grain (the swirly wood markings) if a piece is made of solid wood. Study the direction of the wood grain, too – if the grain on the side does not match up to the edge of that on the top, the piece is probably veneered.
- Look for Natural, Unfinished Parts: Veneered furniture tends to have a uniform, “finished” appearance on all sides. Solid wood pieces have unfinished parts (stud pieces) on hidden sides, such as the underside of a table or the back of a drawer.
- Edge Banding: The use of edge banding is another mark of a veneered piece. Like a “wooden” scotch tape, it covers up the unfinished edge of the veneer.
- Ask the Salesperson: Go up to them, and directly ask if the piece you intend to buy is completely solid, fully veneered, or part-solid and part-veneered. This way, you can also get hints on how to care for it.