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Pros and Cons of Veneer vs. Solid Wood

By Maria Dinshaw | Jul 2019

Pros and Cons of Veneer vs. Solid Wood

What’s the difference?

Solid wood in the interior design and furniture industries usually refers to treated or seasoned wood that has been cut into planks or strips of varying lengths and sizes. Although teak wood is most commonly used in Indian homes, there are many furniture grade wood species available such as mahogany, oak, maple, cedar and many more.

Veneer, on the other hand, usually refers to a very thin shaving of real wood, glued to a thin plywood base. Veneers can be natural, dyed, or engineered to achieve a particular pattern. The term ‘veneer’ may also refer to a paper veneer that allows the veneer to be wrapped around curved surfaces.

Pros of Solid Wood

  • Seasoned solid wood is extremely durable and in the right environment can last for several hundreds of years. It is truly a timeless construction material.
  • Solid wood can be re-surfaced and re-polished many times over. This also contributes to its timeless nature.
  • Solid wood can be shaped relatively easily. Using either hand tools or a wood lathe, solid wood can be moulded into different shapes. This is particularly useful for door architraves, chair and table frames and carvings.

Cons of Solid Wood

  • Solid wood is heavy. The weight of solid wood is often a limiting factor when large furniture pieces need to be transported
  • Working in solid wood is time-consuming and also takes especially skilled carpenters.
  • Solid wood, if not properly seasoned, has a tendency to expand or contract and form cracks. Various wood species have different hardness and humidity tolerance so often special joinery techniques are required to keep the woods stable.
  • When compared to decorative veneers, only a limited range of solid woods are available in a particular market.
  • Solid woods are also expensive on account of limited raw material supply. This makes them ideal for luxury home interior design.
Cons of Solid Wood - Nitido Design Blog

Pros of Veneer

  • The top layer of a decorative veneer being a natural wood product gives a veneer a rich and natural feel. Most decorative veneers can be polished in the same way as natural woods.
  • Veneers are available in a wide range of species and finishes and makes harnessing the natural beauty of wood more accessible.
  • Natural wood veneers are a more eco friendly option when compared to solid hard woods since even one single tree log could yield many hundreds of sheets of veneers.
  • Wood veneers are very convenient to transport.
  • Veneers can be re polished from time to time. This can help in dealing with minor scratches and to keep a piece looking new.
  • Decorative veneers are no susceptible to cracking and this makes them suitable for use over large flat surfaces, such as for wall paneling etc.

Cons of Veneer

  • Decorative veneers are delicate and are susceptible to denting and scratching. Thus care must be used in deciding where to use them.
  • Wood veneers are very sensitive to water and humidity. This can spoil the polish or even damage the veneer permanently. Thus when using a veneer, care must be taken to use them in the correct location and for the correct application.

Design tip: Do not use veneers for table tops. Veneers scratch easily and will not give a durable finish. Opt for solid wood for the top of the table and use veneers on other parts of the piece if budget is a concern.

Which is Best for Me?

This would entirely depend upon the application. Solid wood is more suited for use in framing and table tops. Solid woods also work well in semi-wet areas such as kitchen and bathroom interior design.

Wood veneers are more suited to cover wider and longer surfaces such as wardrobe shutters or decorative wall panels and are usually pasted to plywoods.

Though solid woods can be used for home interior design, the cost per square foot would be considerably higher than using plywoods and veneers.

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