Are you a new flat owner looking to buy some wooden furniture in Singapore? With so many different types of wood furniture out there on the market, it can be quite confusing especially if you are a first-time buyer. This is even more so if you are looking to purchase a solid wood furniture as veneer wood furniture can look similar to a solid wood furniture.
Solid Wood Furniture
Solid Wood furniture uses wood cut from trees. In the past, all the furniture are made from solid wood. However, with the increasing shortage of trees, manufacturers developed engineered wood products such as plywood and MDF (medium-density fibreboard). Today, solid wood furniture is sold at a high price for its scarcity and the work that goes into crafting solid wood into a furniture.
Veneer Wood Furniture
One common question is: is wood veneer made of real wood? A veneer wood furniture is when a veneer (a thin slice from a real wood, usually lesser than 3mm) is layered over a wood underneath. Yes, veneer wood is sliced from real wood, so do not mistake them for laminate! Laminate is made from paper or plastic, mimicking the real wood grains. Veneer wood, on the other hand, has unique wood grains since it is taken from a real tree.
The wood used underneath is more often than not, a particle board or a cheaper solid wood. This combination mimics a real solid wood furniture but comes at a lesser cost as the base material is not made from solid wood.
With improved techniques to achieve high-quality imitations, it certainly is harder to tell the two types of wood furniture apart! Here’s how you can tell if a table is a solid wood or veneer:
Try moving or lifting the furniture. A solid wood furniture, for example, a small bedside table, would feel surprisingly heavy to move around. In comparison, a veneer wood furniture would feel much lighter. However, this also really depends on the base material the manufacturer uses. There are denser fibreboards on the market which can feel as heavy as a solid wood furniture. Hence, this test can only help to eliminate furniture that uses a lower-quality base material.
Look at the shape and form of the wood furniture. Is it flat? Or are there some curvatures? Veneer wood tends to be used for furniture that only has flat surfaces as they snap easily when it’s used to achieve a curved shape.
Only solid wood furniture can be carved while still retaining the wood grains. Carving on veneer wood furniture would expose the base material underneath.
Since veneer wood are layers sliced from solid wood, it is hard to distinguish the two just by looking for variations of wood patterns, or imperfections such as wood pores.
However, one sure way is to look at the top and the sides of the furniture. Observe the direction of the wood grain. If the direction of the wood grain is not going in the same direction, then you are looking at a veneer wood furniture. If the direction is the same, look for seams at the edges. As mentioned in point 2 earlier, veneer wood are flat pieces of wood that are hard to bend. Hence, they cannot cover the entire furniture with a single piece of veneer wood, forming seams at the edges.
Others employ a technique called edge bending to conceal the seam away. This will require a much closer inspection to spot.
If all else fails, simply ask the salesperson if it is completely solid or veneered! This information is crucial to understanding how to properly care for your wood furniture.
So, solid wood furniture or veneer wood furniture? Find out both the pros and cons for each of them so that you know what you are paying for!
Pros of Veneer Wood Furniture
- Less expensive.
- Less manufacturing time
- Less tendency to warp if the wood veneer is applied on MDF board.
Cons of Veneer Wood Furniture
- Less durable as compared to solid wood furniture. Durability largely depends on the thickness of the veneer used and the type of wood for the base material.
- Most common issue after years of usage is peeling at the edges. However, if it is manufactured with high-quality veneer, this is not a concern.
Repair is limited. If any sanding is required on the surface, it is limited by the thickness of the wood veneer used. Cheaper veneer wood furniture uses thinner wood veneer, hence be careful! Sanding it too much will expose the base material of the furniture, and you will have to replace the furniture or bear with the unsightly exposed MDF board.
Pros of Solid Wood Furniture
- They are the most durable type of wood furniture on the market.
- They are practical. It is easy for refurbishing or for repair works if there are any marks or scratches on the surface.
- Highly customizable. Looking for certain length or width to fit your dining area? Most companies selling solid wood furniture offer customization services, making it much easier to find a furniture which fits nicely into that corner of the house.
- Carvings. As solid wood furniture are crafted from solid wood, carvings can be made onto the furniture. However, carvings cannot be achieved on veneer wood furniture to preserve the patterns of the wood grains.
Cons of Solid Wood Furniture
- Expensive since there are lesser trees for manufacturing.
- Longer manufacturing time as each piece is crafted carefully by carpenters.
- May encounter warping or cracking due to the different climate from where the trees are sourced to the customer’s region over the years. This also depends on the type of wood used and the drying techniques of the company. Majority of the company actually use the kiln-dried techniques to reduce moisture in the wood, reducing the likelihood of such problems.
Though each has its own pros and cons, if you wish to get durable wood furniture, it’s always the best to go for solid wood furniture. Solid wood furniture also ages beautifully as time passes, and a quick refurbish is all it takes to get it looking in its pristine condition again.