Solid Wood vs Veneer

Solid Wood vs Veneer

There are many positive reasons for using veneer - not least because nowadays the very highest quality logs are sold to veneer merchants.

There are many positive reasons for using veneer - not least because nowadays the very highest quality logs are sold to veneer merchants.

Veneer merchants have very exacting requirements and look for logs that are uniform in colour, have uniform growth rate, centred pitch, no shake or mineral streaks or stains and nominal external defects.

A good deal of high end furniture is now made from veneer - partly for the reason that the quality of the wood used for the veneer is of the highest grade, but also for reasons of design, minimal movement and availability of exotic and unusual timbers. For the customer, veneer furniture is more robust and more easily maintained.

Solid wood, even kiln dried, is subject to expansion and contraction as the wood continually changes with the amount of relative humidity in the surrounding atmosphere. Wood moves as its moisture content varies, swelling as it absorbs moisture and shrinking as it releases moisture. The grain structure causes wood to move differently in three directions. Wood will move much more across the grain, tangentially along the growth rings; but there will also be some movement in the radial direction, and a very tiny amount longitudinally.

This movement will also happen in veneer, but since veneer is much thinner than solid, the movement is minimal; and the expansion and contraction is limited by the relative smaller mass of the leaves of veneer compared to solid.

Working in solid wood is lovely, but it can sometimes be restrictive in terms of design. Veneer is more forgiving with regards to movement and therefore increases the range of design possibilities.

Veneer wins environmentally. Choosing veneer rather than timber makes the world’s trees go further, because it’s possible to yield more veneer than timber planks from a log – much more.