How to tell if furniture is laminate or veneer

When buying furniture, no matter new furniture or used furniture, it is very important to determine the type and quality of the wood involved in the making of furniture. It’s because everyone wants a high-quality and durable furniture item that fulfills their need and you will be only able to buy a quality furniture item unless you have all the knowledge of the wood involved in its synthesis. Only then you will be able to determine whether a certain furniture item is durable and suitable for your use or not.

Generally, furniture items are either made up of laminate, veneer, or solid wood. Therefore, whenever you’re buying furniture, you need to precisely differentiate between the mentioned types of woods. So how to tell if the furniture is laminate or veneer? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both of them? Let’s find out in this article.

Before going to any conclusion, first, you need to know what exactly are laminate and veneer furniture. Let’s explore that.

What is laminate furniture?

Well, laminate is an artificially manufactured type of wood that is usually made from wooden grains, fiber, or plastic and it covers the furniture item. Laminate is printed in such a way that it looks exactly like real wood. It is cost-effective, easy to install, makes the surface of furniture smooth, washable, and resistant to heat, wear and tear and scratches. 

Key Features of Laminate Furniture

Following are the key features of laminate furniture:

  • It has a glowing and elegant outlook.
  • Laminated furniture can be painted to get the desired appearance.
  • Laminated furniture is much durable.
  • It can resist degradation due to wear and tear and scratches.

What is veneered furniture?

Veneer furniture is a type in which a thin sheet or layer of real wood is used to cover a furniture item that is made up of plastic, rubber, plywood, or any other cheap material. Veneer furniture is usually more economical and beneficial for manufacturing companies because it allows them to use a cheaper material and cover it with real wood.

So in simple words, veneered furniture contains a cheaper material inside and real wood on its upper surface. 

As the upper surface of veneered furniture is real wood, it means that it is more vulnerable to wear and tear and scratches. Therefore, veneered furniture is feasible for use at such places that are not used much frequently. It will not last much longer if you will use it at frequently used places like doors, drawers, and cabinets.

Key Features of Veneered Furniture

Following are the key features of veneered furniture:

  1. Veneered furniture features an elegant finishing of real wood.
  2. It can be painted to get the desired outlook.
  3. It can be restored and restyled once it is worn out.

How to tell if furniture is laminate or veneer?

Now as you know everything about laminate and veneer furniture, it is the best time that you learn to accurately differentiate between laminate or veneer furniture. So how do you differentiate between both? 

Well, there is no rocket science behind accurately differentiating between laminate and veneer furniture. You can easily differentiate them by judging their appearance:

  • Laminate: Laminate will have a smooth shiny surface and will look like actual wood. But upon touching it, you will find out that it’s either plastic or any other man-made material. 
  • Veneer: Veneer will have a real wood finishing. It’ll be a coating of real wood over plastic, rubber, plywood, or another cheaper material. 

Laminate or veneer: Which one is better?

Laminate and veneer have their own advantages and disadvantages and you can prefer any of them based on the data we are going to share below:

Advantages of Laminate

  1. Since laminate is artificially manufactured, it is more durable than other types of wood.
  2. Laminate furniture is resistant to degradation by heat, scratches, and wear and tear.
  3. It is easy to maintain as you can smoothly clean and polish it. Thus, it requires a minimal maintenance effort.
  4. Laminate is cheap, easy to install, and cost-effective. 

Disadvantages of Laminate

  1. Since laminate is artificially manufactured, it doesn’t give out a natural and realistic outlook like real wood.
  2. Laminate furniture can be worn out quickly due to the synthetic material.
  3. The use of synthetic material limits the options to bring any change in laminate furniture.

Advantages of Veneer

  1. Since veneered furniture has a coating of real wood, it gives out a more natural, realistic, and elegant outlook.
  2. Veneer furniture exhibits a uniform appearance. 
  3. It is lightweight as compared to real wood which makes it more accessible as it’s easy to move and transport.
  4. Since the external surface of the veneer is real wood; it is more durable and long-lasting.
  5. It is easy to restyle veneer furniture. You can change its paint, design, and texture. Thus, it is easy to renew veneer furniture once worn out. 
  6. Although veneer furniture is more expensive than laminate, it is much cheaper than the actual wood. This makes it a good substitute for real wood.

Disadvantages of Veneer

  1. The external real wood coating is more vulnerable to scratches and damages.
  2. Layer coating makes it hard to repair the furniture item because the layers start to peel off.
  3. Veneer furniture exhibit less uniformity.
  4. The external real wood covering is prone to degradation by weather and atmosphere such as rain and moistness, etc.
  5. It is not much stable and vulnerable to damage while moving.                

Which one should you use?

Now as you have learned about all the advantages and disadvantages of laminate and veneer furniture, you must be thinking that which one of them is better to use.

Well, the answer depends upon the way you want to use the furniture. Here are some tips that will help you determine which one is better for you:

  • If you are planning to purchase a furniture item for long-lasting and excessive use then laminate is the way forward for you because it is resistant to degradation by heat, scratches, and wear and tear. 
  • If you are looking for a furniture item that will not be used much frequently then veneer furniture would be the best choice for you. It’s because it looks more elegant with the real wood finishing. 

Final Thoughts

To sum up the whole article, laminate furniture is a coating of artificial wood over cheaper materials like plywood, plastic, rubber, and fiber whereas veneer furniture is a coating of real wood over similar cheaper material. 

Laminate looks like real wood but it’s actually artificial wood either made up of plastic or wooden grains. On the other hand, the veneer furniture features real wood coating on its upper surface.

So the next time you go for purchasing furniture, you can utilize all the given information to accurately determine whether if the furniture is laminate or veneer.  

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