Wood Veneers and Wood Laminate – What’s The Difference?

At Read Veneers we’re often asked to explain the case for wood veneer vs laminate. At a quick glance, you may not notice much of a difference between the two which both deliver a finish akin to natural wood. But on closer inspection, however, there’s a lot to talk about. Here we look at the pros and cons of both, as well as answering the question: veneer or laminate, how to tell the difference?

What is wood veneer and what is laminate?

Natural Wood veneers consist of a thin layer of real wood which has been sliced from the log of a tree. These real wood layers are then bonded to substrates such as MDF or solid wood to be made into panels or furniture. Wood veneers can be stained and treated just like a true wood finish.

Laminate on the other hand is completely man made and is formed from compressed layers of paper with a printed surface to resemble wood. It is usually finished with a clear coating.

What’s the difference between wood veneer and laminate?

Let’s now explore the various pros and cons of veneer vs laminate…

The look

Wood veneers use layers of real timber, making them unique in terms of finish. The grain patterns will always vary and will bear distinctive features such as burrs and crotches. Every wood veneer will have a characteristic appeal, with aesthetics generally one of the main benefits when it comes to the case for wood veneer vs laminate.

Whilst there have been improvements in the way that laminates are made and how they look, they remain a synthetic material, and so will never carry the same character and higher end appeal as real wood veneers do.

If you’re wondering, veneer or laminate how to tell the difference, then check the wood grain surface. Laminate will have a printed appearance, often with a shiny or glossy finish.


Wood veneer vs laminate has a higher level of strength, which means it is less likely to suffer from warping or splitting. Veneers can also cope with moisture and more extreme temperatures better than solid wood. If damaged, a veneer can be sanded, and the surface re-finished.

Laminates are mass produced and so are designed to deal with stains and surface marks. However, once damaged, laminate is impossible to repair and instead must be completely replaced.


Laminate usually has a coated finish which makes it easy to clean by simply wiping over. Whilst veneers are easy to care for, use in areas that have direct contact with water is not advisable as they may warp or split over time.


Is wood veneer more expensive than laminate? Laminate tends to be less expensive than wood veneers. This is because you get what you pay for; veneers being a natural product tend to be of higher quality, and so can often be more expensive than laminate.


Wood veneers are extremely versatile. They can be used in a multitude of ways, from freestanding furniture such as tables to fitted pieces and cabinetry and doors for bedrooms and kitchens. Wood veneers are also extensively used to create wood panelling and are used in both domestic and commercial settings.

Laminate is also a versatile material. It is generally used in the format in which it is supplied, such as for kitchen worktops or flat-pack furniture.

Our guide, why choose wood veneer over laminate delves deeper into the subject.

Looking for quality wood veneering services? Look to Read Veneers.

Whilst there are some similarities when exploring the veneer vs laminate debate, it has to be said that are many key differences. These include aesthetics, quality, durability and sustainability.

We offer a nationwide service in wood veneering services with free delivery on all qualifying orders within the M25. We value your wood veneering project, so please get in touch to discuss how we can assist you.