Frequently when people are out searching for furniture, they are unable to differentiate between wood veneer and solid wood. In most cases, most mistakenly assume that veneered furniture is inferior to or cheaper than solid wood. On the contrary, many veneers are often used for high-end furniture and can be more costly than solid wood.
Veneering was an ancient art that has been dated back to the Egyptian times, and it was used on their furniture and sarcophagi. In woodworking, veneer refers to fine slices of wood glued and pressed onto core panels that can be used for various purposes, such as doors, tops, and side panels for cabinets, wood flooring, and much more.
A veneer is created either by peeling the trunk of a tree or slicing large rectangular blocks of wood. The appearance of grain and figure in lumber comes from slicing through growth rings of a tree, and its appearance varies on the angle the wood is sliced.
Both veneering and solid wood have their advantages and disadvantages, but in the case of solid wood furniture, a major benefit is that it is practical. Solid wood furniture is durable and easy to repair. Any destruction is repairable, but it is important to note that the more severe the damage is, the more expensive the repair will cost. In terms of disadvantages, solid wood brings is that it may split. When exposed to extreme atmospheric circumstances, it will expand and break along the grain of the lumber. Prevention of splitting can be achieved by keeping furniture away from direct sunlight and high heat.
Veneer furniture is built by gluing thin layers of wood and the grain at right layers over a thick core. The use of a crisscross design achieves the reduction of splitting or cracking. The adhesive used in the process is the same strong waterproof glue used in aircraft and marine construction, resulting in a product stronger than natural wood.
The benefits of using wood veneer can be a long list from beauty, being environmentally friendly, allowing new design possibilities, and stability. Timber, which is typically sawn into one inch thick boards and a blade which cuts a kerf between boards one-fourth thick that end up as sawdust. Contrarily veneers are not cut from a log but sliced with a knife into leaves or sheets. This process produces thirty-two veneer surfaces for every single one that would be made into a wood board, and with no waste as sawdust, eight layers are gained equalling forty surfaces for every one piece board of wood.
Some disadvantages wood veneers bring are that it is thin, though this is more of a problem for the builder than the consumer. When constructing, if you sand through a layer in prep for finishing, it is impossible to repair and involves redesign or making a troublesome repair difficult to hide. Blistering, delaminate, or peeled back edges were an issue in the past, but with proper construction, materials, and techniques, this is typically not an issue.
Keep in mind when looking for wood furniture that just because it has wood veneers does not mean you are getting a cheaper product. In most cases, it will mirror the same quality as solid wood furniture, but prevent common issues and be more durable.
ESI is the leading supplier of quality veneer sheets and edge banding.