What are Man Made Veneers?

Natural wood veneers are formed by slicing thin layers of real timber. But there is an alternative, and that is the engineered veneer. Here we look at what goes into making man made veneers, how they differ from natural wood veneers, and what you can expect in terms of versatility and functionality.

Natural wood veneers versus man made veneers

Natural wood veneers are thin layers of real wood sliced from natural timber. Every real wood veneer is a unique piece, formed by the natural traits of the tree, influenced by its growing conditions, location, climate and soil. The colour, the patterns and all the burrs and crotches all combine to produce something quite distinctive, a true product of nature.

When used and sourced responsibly, natural wood veneers are able to get more out of the original timber than solid wood. There is a lot to be said for wood veneers versus solid wood, with veneers providing an ecologically sustainable approach to furniture making.

Engineered, or man made veneers, take the ecological benefits a step further. These are veneers that are a manufactured version of natural veneers. They were initially created to reduce the carbon impact of traditional methods of veneered panel production, and to come up with a way to produce identical results each time. This can be particularly important in commercial production, where future runs of the same style of veneer need to be matched, perhaps for hotel or retail chains for example.

How engineered veneers are made

Some man made veneers, such as ALPI veneers, make use of fast-growing, renewable and sustainable species of tree, usually poplar, lime and ayous. Others are created using 3D printing technology. The method is the same for both, however, with stacks of thin material dyed, dried and glued together ahead of being re-cut and re-glued in order to produce the desired pattern.

The final product is, in appearance, much like natural wood grain. Engineered veneer makes the creation and production of new designs possible. Designs that would never be found amongst natural veneers.

Man made veneers are ideal for mass production, ensuring extensive runs are identical in design, with minimal variation in finish, and none of the defects that are apparent with natural wood. Engineered veneers are typically used for fitted furniture, engineered flooring, wood panelling and long-run interior decoration.

Man made veneers from Read Veneers

Here at Read Veneers, the man made veneers we work with come with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain of custody certification. They are available in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, and the ALPI laminate format particularly lends itself to hotel and shop fitting work.

Engineered veneer grains can be crown cut, quarter cut, burr, birds’ eye or patterned and there are some very striking possibilities in terms of colours.

If you’d like to discover more about man made veneers, why not get in touch with Read Veneers? We work extensively with all types of veneers and would be delighted to discuss your project and suggest some ideas for the perfect finish.