In furniture making and interior design, there is something of a divide when it comes to finishing. In one corner sit the laminate lovers. They are all for the maintenance-friendly, easy-clean-ability of laminate-covered furniture and panelling. In the opposite corner we have the wood veneer fans. They are attracted by the rich and unique real wood finish that ages beautifully.
Of course, it all boils down to two things: budget, and taste. But let’s overlook those for a moment, and explore the facts around the differences between wood veneer and laminate, so you can decide for yourself which corner you’ll take.
How does laminate differ from wood veneer?
Wood veneer is a thin layer of natural wood taken from any one of many species of timbers using a range of cutting techniques. It is applied to a substrate material which is then crafted into a piece of furniture or decorative feature.
Laminate on the other hand is a printed surface designed to look like real wood. It is usually made from plastic and bonded to a composite base.
Which is more durable, laminate or veneer?
Some might argue that laminate, being plastic, is more durable than wood veneer. But it is still prone to warping when exposed to moisture. Because people think that they don’t need to take so much care with plastic, this can mean that laminated furniture does tend to bear the brunt of everyday life perhaps more so its veneered counterpart. The trouble is that, if a laminate surface becomes damaged, then the entire piece will need to be replaced. That could mean a whole panel section, or even a full piece of furniture.
Real wood is well known to be naturally durable, and it is no different when sliced into veneers. It is just as capable of withstanding knocks and spills as solid wood, and can be protected with lacquers and oils.
Which is cheaper, laminate or veneer?
Laminate is much easier to manufacture than veneer, making it more budget friendly. That said, wood veneers don’t necessarily have to be overly expensive. The more exotic timbers will of course be more highly priced, but wood veneered decorative features and furniture offer a happy medium between laminated and solid wood options.
Which looks better, laminate or veneer?
Natural wood is a beautiful thing, and when it comes to veneers, the uniqueness is unrivalled. There are some amazingly eye-catching looks that can be achieved with the use of figured veneers for example. Elegant; striking; dark and light contrasting; shimmers and swirls; burrs and crotches. There really is no match for an expertly cut wood veneer.
Laminates are available in an endless variety of colours, and any sort of pattern can be applied, including wood grain. But at the end of the day it is man-made, and to this end lacks the charm presented by natural wood.
What else to consider when deciding between laminate and veneer?
Environmental aspects – veneers responsibly sourced from sustainable woods are considered environmentally sound. They are also completely recyclable. The manufacturing process used to create laminates however involves the use of harmful chemicals which are known to be detrimental to the environment. Laminates are also known to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), otherwise known as toxic gases. These can be harmful to the environment as well as humans.
Where to go for your natural wood veneers?
At Read Veneers, we have been working with natural wood veneers for almost three decades. Our expertise in the preparation and application of wood veneered products is well respected. Should you wish to discuss how wood veneers could bring your furniture making, woodworking or interior design project to life, you are welcome to get in touch.