Is solid wood furniture better? Isn't a veneer made out of paper? What the heck is a veneer anyway?
We get these questions a lot! In short: it depends, it depends, and it depends!
Thank you all for coming to my TED Talk (minus the talk) where hopefully we can help you answer those questions. Let's go in reverse order, starting with:
What is a veneer?
Simply put, a veneer is a thin sheet of material that coats the outside of a product, whether that be furniture, cabinets, walls, doors, etc. Typically, a really expensive material (like fine woods such as walnut) is shaved thin and is used to coat a more inexpensive material like cheaper woods or manmade materials.
There are a number of reasons to do this, but the major ones are:
Durability. Veneers are far less susceptible to warping, splitting, and cracking than a hunk of wood, since it is thin. Wood naturally expands and contracts with temperature and humidity.
Cost. Since multiple layers of veneer can be made from a single piece of valuable wood, the cost of furniture made with veneers is lowered without sacrificing the look and feel. It is, after all, real wood.
Sustainability. By using less wood per piece of furniture than solid wood furniture, less logging is required overall. This protects forests from being cleared for their valuable exotic wood.
Loads of beautiful furniture with real wood veneers can be purchased for lower prices than their solid wood counterparts, saving money and the environment without sacrificing longevity.
Aren't veneers made out of paper?
Some companies choose to skip wood altogether, and instead use paper with wood patterns printed on to give an illusion of real wood. This comes at a huge sacrifice though, which is why we recommend not buying paper furniture!
Furniture made from paper veneers are suuuuper cheap, since paper is even cheaper than shaved wood, but often comes with a lower useful life. As you can imagine, paper doesn't hold up quite as well (especially when things get a little bit damp or wet). In addition, the materials used inside are frequently just as cheaply made, such as cardboard or Styrofoam.
While shoppers might save some money at first, the furniture will likely need to be replaced within a year or two due to the lower durability. Replacing this type of furniture not only adds up on cost, but is also extremely unsustainable. Most end up in the landfill, since the materials can't be easily separated.
This trend of disposable furniture is everywhere, from wood to upholstery to mattresses. Any reputable furniture manufacturer is proud to offer a warranty on their product; ask our expert F2 staff about furniture that's built to last.
Is solid wood furniture simply better?
Yes and no. Solid wood furniture is 100% natural wood, with all the unique characteristics of the living tree it originally came from. Solid wood furniture is unmatched when it comes to artistry, and only solid wood can have details such as a true live-edge.
With the right type of wood and sustainable logging practices like those outlined from the FSC, you can have beautiful solid wood products without harming the environment. Avoiding furniture made from forests that are clear cut is easier now than ever before. Ask about where materials are sourced and collected; some furniture is even made from naturally felled wood, like our Woody collection, made from BC cedar collected from the forest floor.
There's nothing like the strength and longevity of solid wood. Just like the tree sustained years of abuse from weather and climate, solid wood furniture can easily endure some "love" from kids and families. Its durability can not only sustain years of use, but can also be sanded down and refinished to give new life to your furniture. Being passed down through generations keeps furniture in homes, and not in the landfill.
That being said, solid wood can warp, crack, and splinter even as it grows. Under intensely dry conditions, such as a winter home without humidifiers, these conditions can happen to your furniture. If solid wood furniture is properly maintained, or sealed with a high-quality finish, it can be left almost anywhere and preserve its structural integrity.
Our modern furniture is all about making the best use of our limited materials on Earth while maximizing style. We pride ourselves on our selection of wood veneer and solid wood furniture such as birch, oak, douglas fir, BC cedar, teakwood, acacia, walnut, and more.
At F2 Furnishings, we have the expertise to help guide you to finding the best modern furniture to suit your home and budget for years to come!