Solid Timber vs Timber Veneer

When investing in furniture or fitout items, it is important to understand the pros and cons of both solid timber and timber veneer.

What is timber veneer?

Timber veneer is essentially a thin layer of real timber applied to a substrate material, such as wooden board, particle board or fibreboard. It has three main benefits, with the first being more cost effective, particularly in large panels. Secondly, it allows greater flexibility for producing curved elements to furniture, and thirdly the product is more stable in large areas.

Normally between 0.5 and 0.85mm thick, timber veneer is an economical way of utilising precious natural wood. No other form of woodworking material results in such an efficient use with little waste.

However, timber veneers do have downfalls that you need to be aware of. Being a thin layer, items are not able to be resurfaced, meaning they will need to be replaced a lot sooner that solid timber. This is particularly important to note in high use areas or for items such as table tops.

What are the benefits of solid timber?

While being initially less cost effective compared to a veneer, solid timber has a durability and resiliency that pays off in the long term. Solid timber when laminated correctly and dried to correct moisture content is a great long-term product. While marking and wearing depends on the density of the species, it provides a warm, natural appeal. After years of use the product can be resurfaced by stripping, sanding and refinishing to provide a new finish.

While significant moisture or heat on veneer surfaces could penetrate the veneer – particularly at joints – affecting the glue bond and/or the substrate leaving little that can be done to repair, solid timber also has a better resistance to heat and moisture.

So, a timber veneer or solid timber?

Our suggested rule of thumb when applying to interior furniture and fitout situations is to use solid timber where possible – particularly on high use surfaces and horizontal surfaces and anywhere exposed to edge impact. Veneers are more suited to larger vertical surfaces and curved panels.

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