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Busting the Myths: The Benefits of Veneer in Furniture


There is a general perception in the world of interior design that solid wood is always preferable to veneers. It's a hotly debated topic, and one that's not nearly as cut and dry as it might appear on the surface (pun intended!).

Despite the poor press, high quality veneer on good MDF is often favourable to a solid wooden panel. We're busting some myths surrounding the top misconceptions about veneer vs. solid wood...

Myth #1: Veneer is Cheap

High quality veneered panels are anything but cheap. In fact, compare the price of top-notch oak veneer doors to their solid oak counterparts and you're in for a surprise. Veneer wood is frequently of equal or even higher value than solid wood.

Cardinal TV Unit by Harley & Lola

Myth #2: Veneer Designs are Simplistic, Hard Woods are Luxurious

While there is a perception that hardwood equals luxury, the reality is that a great many more luxurious pieces of furniture can be created from veneer rather than solid wood. Veneer is extremely thin and can easily be glued to a stable substrate, which allows designs and arrangements of the wood that would not be possible in solid wood.

Solid wood works and moves according to the seasons, even when it is kiln-dried. A radiant table top would not be possible to craft in solid lumber. This is due to the fact winter would open seams in the wood, while summer would swell it tightly shut. Aprons, edge bandings and other cross-grain designs aren't possible in solid wood either, while solid burls are largely unusable, but are frequently created using veneer.

Items that are large relative to their thickness, such as dining table tops, are far better crafted from wood veneer than they are from solid wood. A solid 'plank table' top is extremely likely to crack or warp, especially when constructed of oak. On the other hand, a top-notch veneer table top is far superior in terms of both durability and stability.

Knightsbridge Dining Table by Harley & Lola

Myth #3: It's One or the Other

Another common perception is that it's a case of either or; you either get a solid wood cabinet, or a wood veneer cabinet. In reality the best course is frequently to combine the finest attributes of both solid wood and veneer to create the perfect piece of furniture, with components of both veneer and solid wood. Furniture that was designed with the right selection of timber and the highest quality materials for each individual component is a strong, durable and extremely high quality product.

Mobel Sideboard by Harley & Lola

Myth #4: Nature Knows Best

The fact that solid wood is 100% natural is often a point made in its favour. Yet there are considerable downsides to using natural wood. Its very nature works against you; as a product of nature it is bound by the laws and forces of nature. Solid wood contracts and expands according to the temperature and humidity of its environment. The only way to reduce this effect is to carefully ensure the moisture content is suitable for the UK climate (10%), and equally carefully ensure the wood has been properly sealed during the finishing process. One misstep, and your wood will warp, crack and display other signs of damage.

The use of veneer inserts over a solid wood frame reduces this effect considerably, as the wood has room to expand and contract, making it less likely to crack or split. For this reason, here at Harley & Lola we love wooden tables with a veneered inlay on top. The insertion of veneered flat door inserts and side panels are also excellent, as they produce more durable products - and that's always on top of our agenda.

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Posted on January 30 2017
by: Charlotte Carlsen Abraham

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