Wood Veneer Vs Laminate Furniture Vs Solid Wood: What's the Difference?
When buying new office furniture, it can feel as though you need to learn everything about different kinds of wood, veneer furniture, and laminate furniture. However, all you really need to know is which is best for your office and the benefits of each.
Ready to learn everything you need to know before buying laminate furniture for your office?
Keep reading as we’ll help you weigh up your options and choose the ideal wood option for your office layout and design.
Wood Veneer, Laminate, And Solid Wood: What's The Difference?
To help you understand the critical differences between these types of wood, let's discuss what natural wood, wood veneer, and laminate furniture are and how manufacturers make them.
What is Wood Veneer?
Wood veneer is a type of wood made using plywood, with a thin layer of wood veneer coating the plywood material. The materials at the base of the wood veneer are typically cheaper options than real wood, making the wood veneer a less expensive wood option. The manufacturers place thin layers of wood at angles, interlacing and overlapping to create more strength overall.
What is Laminate?
Unlike wood veneer, laminate furniture is not made using authentic wood grain. Instead, the wood grain pattern comes from a photographic image laid under transparent laminate layers to create a wood effect. The laminate wood has several layers to add strength, and the top layers are always the laminate and the photographic wood grain image.
High-pressure Laminate (HPL)
High-pressure laminate consists of many layers of cellulose fibers. These fibers are then impregnated with various resins, then, heat and pressure are applied.
Low-pressure Laminate (LPL)
Low-pressure laminate consists of a single layer of melamine paper, which bonds to a substrate that makes up the bulk of the board.
What is 'Real Wood'?
Natural wood furniture is as it sounds. It consists of wood from trees—oak, cedar, chestnut, or mahogany. Natural wood is carved, assembled, and then polished and stained to make it last.
Wood Veneer, Laminate, and Solid Wood—What are the Pros and Cons?
Now that you know what each type of wood is and what it is made of, let's discuss their main advantages and disadvantages. This information will help you to determine which option is best suited for your own office furniture.
Advantages of Wood Veneer
Let's look at the advantages of wood veneer for your office furniture.
Genuine Wood Finish With Natural Variations
The veneer finish over slices of natural wood allows for preserving the natural beauty of the wood. The fragile layer of wood will have natural patterns and intricacies for a more beautiful and unique appearance.
Richer, Stained Finish Options
When you opt for wood veneer, you can choose a stain for your finish. The glossy surface gives a more shiny finish, and you’ll have plenty of variety in the choice regarding the finish and color.
Cost-effective Option That Looks and Feels Like Real Wood
During manufacturing, natural wood creates veneer furniture. However, since only a minimal amount of natural wood is used, the table is much cheaper than a natural wood alternative. If you want the authentic wood look on a budget, then veneer sheets might be your best option.
It can be Sanded and Refinished.
Natural real wood creates veneer finishes; you can sand the furniture down and refinish it as you, please. However, you must be careful when altering veneer furniture, as you need to avoid scratching off the entire surface.
Resistant to Warping
Natural wood furniture does not hold up well in wet environments. When you opt for veneer furniture, you will ensure that your desk, office chair, or cabinet will cope with a bit of dampness, without warping.
Relatively Easy Maintenance
The durable surface of veneer furniture makes it relatively easy to maintain, and you won't need to worry about ruining the natural material.
Disadvantages of Wood Veneer
Everything can always be better, and wood veneer furniture does have its disadvantages. Let's discuss them.
Not Solid Wood
Wood veneer is not solid wood. Underneath the veneer sheets is plywood, which might not be as timeless as wood furniture alternatives. The wood veneer could be susceptible to breakage over the years, more so than other types of furniture.
Can be Damaged by Water
Water can damage wood veneer. Although the wood will not warp, the surface may be disturbed if wet.
Requires Coasters and Desk Pads
To use wood veneer for a desk, cabinet, or coffee table, you must invest in mousepads, computer pads, and coasters. The material's surface is not entirely scratch resistant, which means that you could wind up with coaster rings and scratches on the wood.
Higher Price Point Vs. Laminate and Real Wood
Veneer are much more expensive than laminate furniture. And there is no guarantee that a veneer table will be cheaper than a natural wood alternative.
Advantages of Laminate
Now, let's take a look at the advantages of laminate furniture.
Durable, Manufactured Surface
In the manufacturing process, there is more room for creativity for the surface of laminate furniture. This flexibility means that manufacturers can design a durable laminate surface for.
Scratch, Stain, and Heat Resistant
You can put your candles on a laminate table, you can put your keys on your laminate reception desk, and you can place your cup on your laminate side table without worrying about scratches, scuff marks, burn marks, or ring stains.
Easy to Clean and Maintain
Since laminate is resistant to damage, it is easy to scrub, wipe, or polish clean, without you worrying about the kind of cloth you're using and whether it will leave scratches on the laminate surfaces.
Modern, On-trend Finishes
When you invest in laminate vs. other wood options, you get more decorative design options. Laminate options can keep up with the latest trends and emulate most styles you wish for in your office furniture.
Budget-friendly and Easy to Manufacture
Low-pressure laminates are incredibly cheap, and even high-pressure laminates can be more affordable than other furniture materials. Laminate products might be the right option if you're on a budget but still want a wood furniture look in your office space.
Since the pandemic, businesses have adopted antimicrobial surfaces to ensure that common touchpoints, like elevator buttons and pin pads, don't become harbingers for germs. If you opt for a laminate finish, you can ensure that your desks, cabinets, and reception desks stay clear of bacteria, reducing the potential spread of germs in your offices (which could significantly hinder productivity).
Disadvantages of Laminate
Let's discuss some of the drawbacks when it comes to laminate furniture.
Can’t be Stained or Sanded
You cannot stain or sand your laminate furniture, which means that the finish you choose when you buy your laminate products is the finish they will always have. So, choose your stain wisely when picking out laminate furniture.
Not as Strong as Solid Wood
Although laminate is flame retardant and resistant to scratches and stains, solid wood is stronger. So, your shelving units, cabinets, and desks may hold less weight than a natural wood furniture alternative.
You Won't Get the Beautiful, Natural Variations of Real Wood
Real wood, and even veneer furniture, have natural beauty and variety. If you opt for laminate furniture, you will have a different intricate and unique appearance than with the multiple layers of wood veneer or real wood options.
Advantages of Solid Wood
Now, is wood best coming directly from the source? Let's weigh up the advantages of solid wood.
Natural wood is solid. Veneer and laminate options will be lower-quality lumber, which is more breakable. When you opt for a wood furniture option, you gain the advantage of strength, and your furniture can last hundreds of years if you treat it right.
Has Natural Stains and Colors
Nature is beautiful, and the intricacies of solid wood speak to the tree's age and journey. The beautiful stains, colors, and patterns of solid wood are difficult to replicate with artificial alternatives. Solid wood might be the right choice if you're a natural beauty lover.
Easy to Refinish
Suppose your wood furniture is exposed to direct sunlight or stained. In that case, you can easily refinish and restain your wood as you please, preserving the coloring and improving the aesthetically pleasing look of your damaged wood.
Easy to Keep in Good Shape
If you want to keep your solid wood in good shape, you won't have too much difficulty. The timeless look of wood furniture is easy to preserve. In a rustic environment, stains and scorch marks on your wooden table can be decorative focal points, and the more worn your table becomes, the more rustic it will appear.
Natural wood furniture lasts. The wood is substantial and much more robust than other alternatives. A solid piece of wood furniture will give you great value for money with its durability.
Disadvantages of Solid Wood
Although solid wood has many benefits, it does have some flaws and inconveniences.
Prone to Chipping, Staining, and Rings
Solid wood is prone to chipping, staining, and rings. So, unless you're going for the distressed and rustic look with your furniture, you'll need to treat your solid wood carefully!
Natural wood is one of the most expensive options. The high quality of the material will ensure that you receive ROI on your purchase, but if your budget is limited, you might be better off opting for a cheaper alternative.
Natural wood is wood from one or several different trees. If you think about how heavy a log of wood is, you'll understand how heavy your wood furniture will be. If you need to move and reposition your furniture regularly, you'll be better off with a lighter wood option.
Vulnerable to Warping
Natural wood can warp over time when it’s exposed to damp or humid environments. If you're unsure whether you can keep your wood furniture from becoming wet, then consider other, more warp-resistant, materials.
Maintaining Wood Veneer, Laminate, and Solid Wood
Whether you choose solid, veneer, or laminate, you must take great care of it. The top layer of any furniture should be treated in the following ways
- Use coasters—although laminates are stain-resistant, it's a good idea to avoid placing your cups and mugs on your furniture. Use a coaster to prevent rings and staining.
- Polish your wood—you should polish your wood regularly with non-abrasive cloths and wood-friendly polishes (particularly for wood veneer). Using harsh chemicals on your furniture will only cause damage. Laminated furniture may need polishing more often due to the material's shininess, as dirt will show clearly on it.
- Oiling—you should oil solid wood to preserve it.
Wood Veneer, Laminate, and Solid Wood: Which is Better?
A solid wood desk or wood composite option will do the job. But your choice depends on whether you need your furniture to last, whether you're on a budget and whether you need to keep your furniture stain-free. Listing your requirements will help you to make your decision. Currently, HPL, or high-pressure laminate, is used most frequently to make office furniture across the world.
If you're looking to buy new office furniture, it's best to understand which materials will provide the good durability, cost, and strength that you're looking for. By knowing the differences between wood, veneer, and laminate furniture, you can make your decision more quickly.
Are you looking for wood grain furniture? Check out our fantastic options at Freedman's Office Furniture.