Let me take a wild guess – chances are, you’re here because you know next to nothing about wood furniture and want to find out more. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret – you’re not alone on that. Before writing this article, I didn’t know much either. Amongst other terms that completely elude me, the words ‘cherry’ and ‘maple’ only bring to mind fresh fruits and Canada, respectively.
Like you, if I were thrown into a wood furniture store to purchase something to save my life, I’ll probably just make a beeline to designs that catch my eyes first (regardless of their actual quality), or simply rely on an interior consultant’s help – which, let’s be honest, may not always lead to the best-value purchase.
Thankfully for you, I’ve gone ahead and did the research for us. So what’s the difference between a laminated, veneer and solid wood furniture, you ask? Well, actually – the differences are many. And depending on your varying needs, lifestyle and budget, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice. We recommend to read up a little before going furniture shopping, so you get a better sense of what’s out there – it’ll also help you figure out what’s best for you at this point in time for your home.
As a precursor, laminated and veneer wood furniture are generally perfect for homeowners who are building their first home together with a limited budget and has plans to upgrade to a bigger space in the future. Though these options aren’t known for their longevity, they do come in a wide variety of designs, textures, and shapes, which appeals to young couples who are experimenting with their home interior. And because they don’t tend to last forever, and come at a more affordable price point, they can be easily changed up for more statement furniture eventually, so there is a lot more flexibility when it comes to furnishing living spaces with these options.
On the other hand, solid wood furniture is known for their longevity in comparison to laminated and veneer wood – sometimes, they last for so many years that they are even passed down from one generation to the next. More often than not, they also come at a higher price point and much better quality. For homeowners who prefer furniture that can grow with them as a family, they will feel more inclined towards solid wood because of its innate storytelling quality. Solid wood, because of its nature, reacts to the environment that it lives in. For example, it may change its tone depending on how much sun and humidity it is exposed to, and it bears the markings of its users from their daily activities surrounding it. This way, over time, you can imagine how much character and charm these solid wood pieces develop. On top of that, while there are more playful designs available these days, solid wood furniture tends to lean more towards the minimal spectrum and appeals to a wider audience.
With this extensive guide on wood furniture, we sure hope to clear up all the confusion surrounding this topic once and for all.
Living with Laminates
Wood laminates are widely available and largely regarded as one of the cheapest options for furniture, and by no surprise. You see, laminated wood isn’t exactly ‘wood’. It actually consists of a layer of synthetic wood-like material, and its wood-grain appearance – though convincingly real, is merely a result of a printing process during manufacturing.
That said, many new and seasoned home-owners enjoy laminated wood because of its extensive variety. As compared to the organic nature of solid wood, the colour and wood-grain appearance of laminated wood are more consistent and controlled.
Pros of Laminated Wood Furniture
- Low cost. Laminated wood is the least expensive amongst other wood furniture options. If you’re on a budget, this is a huge plus, but just bear in mind you may need to replace laminated wood furniture down the road as they are not the hardiest.
- Greater variety. Since it’s made from synthetic materials, options for colours and wood-grain appearance vary much more than solid wood. Unlike solid wood harvested from nature, laminated wood are man-made. This means there’s a lot more control, consistency and room for creativity, especially if you’re searching for something specific.
Cons of Laminated Furniture
- Compromise in quality. Although there are many beautifully-made laminated wood options these days, it’s hard to find good ones whose quality can measure up to those we find in solid wood.
- Natural variations. Unlike the uniform appearance of laminated wood, real wood furniture have organic wood-grain patterns and textures graced by nature, and these are harder to mimic in synthetic laminates.
- Shorter lifespan. If you’re a new or seasoned home-owner who enjoys changing up your interior furnishing every few years, laminated wood furniture is great alternatives to consider. Granted they don’t have a particularly long lifespan, but they are priced more comfortably for you to switch them up every few years to your heart’s fancy. They are also readily available in a myriad of designs that will fit your evolving home aesthetic.
Venturing into Veneer
In the same line of concept to laminated wood, veneers are a less pricey furniture option that is popular amongst contemporary home-owners. Essentially, veneers refer to the thin wood-sheets that are mounted over hardwoods in furniture. Most people gravitate towards veneer furniture as they are more design-led, which is why veneering is a method often used by the Italian furnishing industry.
Pros of Veneer Furniture
- Moderate price point. Prices for veneer furniture sit comfortably between laminated wood and solid wood furniture. You may want to consider purchasing veneer furniture if you’re not comfortable with investing in solid wood furniture as a first-time home-owner, or if you’re just looking for a piece of transitional furniture that you might replace in future.
- Authentic look and feel. Veneer furniture bears the hallmarks of solid wood furniture in its appearance. This means as compared to laminated furniture, veneer furniture presents a more luxurious look and feel to your space.
- Greater variety. The thin layer of real wood in veneer furniture acts as an ‘outer cover’ for the end product, so you may be able to explore exotic wood for the furniture you have in mind, especially if you’re considering customisation.
Cons of Veneer Furniture
- Scratches easily. Veneer furniture is more prone to scratches and dents as compared to other wood materials. You may not want to place your veneer furniture in high-traffic areas, in the kids’ room or where your pets may roam.
- Veneer damage. Veneer furniture looks great, but may start showing signs of wear and tear after some time, such as peeling or blistering. Unfortunately, there are no effective ways to remedy these veneer damages except to replace them completely.
- Repair difficulty. While you may be able to sand off some minor scratches to refinish your veneer furniture, do bear in mind that the veneer layer is thin and can as easily be destroyed during the sanding process.
- Unknown materials. As veneer furniture is constructed by adhering a thin piece of real wood onto a less expensive wood or particle board, it can sometimes be hard to figure out what material(s) your veneer piece consists of. Often, it has a mix of chemicals, glues and other cheap wood components, but unless you crack them open entirely, it is difficult to say for sure. When shopping for veneer furniture, try to find out its materials – don’t make it easy for retailers to charm you into overpaying for beautiful veneer furniture that is mounted on cheap hardwood that won’t last.
Sold by Solid Wood
Now that we’ve gotten the easy stuff out of the way, the world of solid wood – once the basics are well-understood – opens doors to creativity and timeless designs.
At IUIGA, we take pride in committing our products to last through the ages. Our furniture is all lovingly made using solid white oak – a strong and sturdy wood that only become more beautiful with time, measured at a 4 on the hardness scale (up to 5). Aside from its enduring durability and lovely wood-grain appearance, the solid white oak is also handpicked for its resistance to moisture. Not only will it tide us through our seasonal monsoon, but it also holds up equally well in Singapore’s eternal summer as outdoor furniture options.
- Free from Toxic Formaldehyde. For the health and environmentally-conscious, you’ll be happy to know all of IUIGA’s solid wood furnishing comes formaldehyde-free. According to the American Cancer Society, formaldehyde is classified as a known human carcinogen and prolonged exposure can cause issues such as sore throat, coughing, scratchy eyes and nosebleeds etc. The young and elderly are most susceptible to airborne formaldehyde, as they have a weaker immune system. Exposure to formaldehyde can even cause people to become allergic to other chemicals they weren’t previously allergic to. This toxic chemical is found in most living products such as curtains, flooring, adhesives, cabinets, textiles etc. So be very cautious when shopping for home goods and furniture as the side effects are nasty.
Pros of Solid Wood Furniture
- Timeless aesthetic. Solid hardwood furniture has an inherent beauty that just transcends time and uplifts the warmth of any living space.
- Lasting durability. There are different types of hardwoods available in the market, and oaks have long been regarded as one of the most resilient there are. Most solid wood furniture is hardy and will make a fine investment piece for your home.
- Low maintenance and longevity. Though solid wood furniture is priced higher than laminated and veneer designs, they genuinely last way longer and cannot be compared on the same terms. Solid wood furniture is called investment pieces because families usually pass them down the generations due to their enduring longevity and lasting quality.
- Value. Solid wood furniture has values that increase over the years, and can fetch a premium sum if you’re looking to resell it in the future. On the other hand, laminated and veneer furniture have little to no resale value as they diminish in quality and condition over time.
Cons of Solid Wood Furniture
- Higher cost. When it comes to solid wood furniture, you do pay for what you get. First of all, you’re getting 100% real wood that is harvested from nature – this alone entails many excellent attributes such as durability, longevity and timeless charm. Secondly, despite its heftier price tag, you may be able to sell it a comparable price if you choose to resell it in the future.
- Hefty weight. Real wood is heavy, so there’s no escaping this one even after they are made into compact furniture. If you’re living in a transitional space, owning solid wood furniture may be a problem as they are not as easy or light to move around effortlessly. You may even need to hire a professional mover to help you if you’re moving from a place to your next.
- Susceptible to extreme conditions. Although solid wood furniture is generally very resilient to moisture and heat, exposure to extreme temperatures may damage your piece. However, this won’t be an issue if you place them in a regular environment where there’s good ventilation.
Now that we’ve laid out all you need to consider when it comes to wood furniture, we hope you’ve got a better understanding and feel more well-equipped in your next shopping adventure. And if you’re looking to make a value-for-money investment on solid wood furniture, we’ve got just the right thing for you.
IUIGA offers a tasteful selection of formaldehyde-free solid white oak designs at completely transparent pricing that is sure to inspire the best of your hygge daydream – if that doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven right there, we don’t know what is. Get inspired!
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