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We all have dreams of the perfect and ideal home. Some hope to one day have a lovely, lush garden while many dream of owning a home with beautiful wood flooring. Perhaps you would love to own some wooden furniture but just cannot afford it? Not to mention the maintenance involved! Wooden floors and wooden furniture are beautiful, it adds a certain depth and richness to any home. But with the beauty of wood comes a price many cannot afford. And this is where veneer wood comes into the picture. But what is veneer wood? This article will delve into the world of this wonder product, something that has ensured beautiful homes with that wooden feel, without the hefty price tag. We will discuss everything from veneer furniture, hardwood veneer, veneered MDF, and even real wood veneer. Keep reading to learn more about wood veneer and how you can use it in your home, be it with a veneer table or oak veneer flooring!
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Wood Veneer?
- 2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Solid Hardwood and Hardwood Veneer
- 3 The Various Types of Wood Veneers
- 4 Veneer Substrates
- 5 Staining Wood Veneer
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Wood Veneer?
So, what is wood veneer exactly? There are many kinds of veneer, and they are all made from different substances and different materials, depending on what the wood veneer will be used for. In essence, wood veneer is made of paper-thin wooden pieces that have been bonded together using a chemical and heat-based process. Wood veneers could be created from a single log, or from various trees. Often, a veneer is actually synthetic, making it even more affordable. Each wood veneer board could contain quite a number of different materials which will result in varying characteristics.
You can even have your veneer custom-made! This means that you can choose the color and type of wood grain and choose exactly which properties you like to be highlighted or even removed and added. Wood veneer is such a versatile product, it is easy to understand why it is such a popular choice for both furniture and flooring alike.
Back when veneer first started becoming popular, people thought of it as “fake” wood. The fact is, however, that real wood does not last as long and is not as strong as wood veneer! Hardwood veneer is also far more affordable than real solid wood. So, while some people turned their noses up at “fake wood” many were very happy with their imitation flooring and veneer furniture. After all, they lasted longer, needed way less maintenance, and looked just as good as the “real thing”. Veneer is available in so many finishes, such as oak veneers or acacia veneer. These would be very difficult to source today, and very expensive.
People do not realize that solid wood damages quite easily and maintaining it can be more work than easily wipeable veneered MDF. Solid pine will show every knock, glass ring stain, and scratch, whereas covering it with veneered MDF would offer it protection. So, when you ask “What is veneer wood”, the simplest way to describe it is as an environmentally friendly, versatile, and affordable alternative to solid wood!
The Difference Between Wood Veneer and Solid Wood
The main difference between solid wood and real wood veneer is simple really. Solid wood is exactly that, a solid piece of wood made from one log. This solid chunk may have been carved into another shape, take for example the legs of an oak wood table, and then finished off with a varnish or wood stain for added protection. You can also prime and paint solid wooden surfaces easily. Of course, if you desire inlays or any scoring, real solid wood is the obvious choice as it is far denser than veneer wood. You can sand away layers of solid wood to allow for a new finish or coat of paint. It is a lot harder to restore veneer because it is made of many layers of wood or even synthetic materials. If you damage your veneer table or your acacia veneer flooring, you will need to replace it rather than restore it.
For example, when it comes to veneer floorboards, this will entail the replacement of the entire surface or fitting an identical board as a replacement. You can also cover the damaged veneer board with a new layer. While this may make veneer sound less desirable, there are so many factors to consider. Price aside (and it is a large price difference when compared to solid wood) another thing to take into account is that ambient temperature changes will not affect veneer the way it does wood. This is one of the reasons why veneer is so much more durable. Solid wood is prone to cracking when the temperature fluctuates. You will not have to worry about such issues with a hardwood veneer!
Depending on the application, you can customize your veneer boards exactly how you want them, not only will they be more flexible and easier to work with when compared to solid wood, but they will also have a high-quality finish that does not require the upkeep that solid wood does. As we mentioned before, the price difference alone is enough to make most people choose veneer.
Veneer does need to be properly installed though. If your veneer floorboards are not properly sealed, moisture will seep into the veneer layers. This will result in bubbling, splitting, and warping. If you do not feel confident installing your own veneer, especially in a moisture-rich environment, call on a professional for help. It will be worth the small extra cost.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Solid Hardwood and Hardwood Veneer
Sometimes, real wood is necessary. It all depends on the application. Often, however, a veneer can offer a cheaper and better alternative. Both materials have a range of advantages and disadvantages, it is up to you which disadvantages you would prefer. Of course, price is a massive factor and so is the environment. It is up to you to do the research and do a little homework to make an informed choice. Read on for our list of positives and negatives for both solid wood and hardwood veneer.
If you are wondering exactly what makes veneer wood a good choice, or what the negative aspects of this choice would be, we have listed the pros and cons below:
Everyone loves solid wood, but just like with all things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages that come with it. Here are some pros and cons for using solid wood as opposed to veneers:
The Various Types of Wood Veneers
Real wood veneer is available in many shapes and various sizes, making it so easy to fit any space. With so many veneer wood options available, it can be daunting to choose one! Here are a few veneers that are quite common in today’s market.
Spliced Veneer Sheets
The splicing process is usually used to create veneers to cover large surfaces. Thanks to its ability to stick to almost all surfaces, you are able to create unusual and unique patterns. Other than this unique ability, there is also far less waste with spliced veneer sheeting because you can recycle the leftovers to be turned into more sheeting! You could easily pass these sheets off as real wood veneer because it is highly textured. Often, you would find that your office has a veneer table in the conference room, perfectly matching the skirting boards.
Natural Veneer Sheets
This veneer is the one people choose because of how much more natural and closer to solid wood it resembles. Natural veneer sheets are made with wood that is stripped from the log, this means the natural wood grain and texture are preserved. Natural veneer sheeting is then applied to another surface as a layer, often on other veneer boards or particleboard. While you would imagine that the price tag is high, it is still extremely affordable when compared to solid wood. It is also referred to as a real wood veneer.
Of course, the low price tag of natural veneer is wonderful news to homeowners! Who would not want a beautiful wooden finish without the bank-breaking costs involved? Not only are these sheets of amazing value for money, but they are also far better for the environment. There is a lot less energy used in producing natural veneer sheeting and much less waste.
Multi-Layer Veneer Sheets
A veneer is a wonderful, modern product. Multi-layer veneer not only has a unique look and feel, but it really is quite different from other veneer sheeting. Created from wooden fibers that use adhesive and heating to bond together, the sheets are then applied to a flexible and elastic base which is then sold as what we call multi-layer veneer sheeting.
Typically, these sheets usually feature patterns of geometric nature, intended to look like natural wood grain. This means that it is a strong competitor to natural veneer sheeting.
Fine Line Veneer Sheets
Have a particular wood and grain in mind? Fine line veneer sheets are what you want! Not only does this type of veneer resemble any wood you can think of, but it imitates the natural grain of real solid wood too. One would never know that these sheets were made of leftovers from other veneer sheets! The boards which are created from the repurposed cut-offs can be shaped and trimmed and eventually made to resemble absolutely any wood you want!
Another huge positive factor about fine line veneer is the price, it is often one of the least expensive veneers available on the market. One negative about this option is that it is rather brittle. Unfortunately, the way these sheets are treated and the adhesive used to create them does play a factor in that too. It is not recommended to use this type of sheeting for veneer furniture as it will not hold up well.
Shop-Made Veneer Sheets
Depending on how difficult a product is to get hold of or manufacture is often reflective in the price and shop-made veneer sheeting falls into this category without a doubt. It is one of the higher-priced veneers because it is created with absolute precision. This veneer is not often used in a regular kitchen, the quality is very high and therefore is the preferred choice for musical instruments such as pianos, guitars, and violins.
Usually, standard furniture and cupboards are not constructed from shop-made veneer as it is just too expensive to justify.
Veneer is, as mentioned before, very thin but high-quality processed wood coverings which are used to cover cheap materials in order to give them the impression of real solid wood. What this ensures is amazingly realistic aesthetic appeal all at a very low price when compared to solid wood options. The base of the veneer is usually one of a few different bases. These bases are also known as substrates. Below, we have listed some of the more common substrates that veneer is applied on top of.
Hardwood and Softwood Substrates
Sounds odd? Well, you can cover other wood with veneer! You very likely already own furniture just like this! Now you are asking why you would want to purchase this sort of furniture when you could just buy solid hardwood furniture? The answer is so simple, affordability! Veneer wood furniture is very well priced in comparison. Very often, a layer of veneer will be covering chipboard wood. Chipboard is a combination of cheaper hardwood as well as softwood fibers. What this provides is less warpage from expansion and contraction. You still have a very beautiful and high-quality finish, just without the added admin and maintenance. It can, however, be tricky to glue veneer to plywood and a stronger adhesive is needed.
Plywood Board Substrates
Used in construction worldwide, Plywood is a very common and highly popular choice used as a veneer base. Being such a versatile option thanks to its high pliability and strength, plywood is an excellent choice of substrate. Of course, sometimes low-quality plywood is used and this results in a range of problems. It is important to use only the best materials possible.
Plywood is created from wood fibers that have been mixed together and formed into the board with a strong and high-quality adhesive. It is possible to join plywood boards to one another using various shapes and compositions. This then in turn gives them more durability and strength. If low-quality and sub-par plywood are used as a substrate, then the possibility of the veneer peeling off or tearing is quite high. It is always important to use the best quality plywood possible.
Medium Density Overlay/Medium Density Fiberboard Substrate
Most of the veneer-covered furniture available today uses MDF as a substrate. Considered by many as one of the better choices of substrate, MDF is made with a mixture of higher-quality wood and other particles. These particles are specially selected to create the very specific qualities of wood. When these particles are joined using a high-quality adhesive and resin, it creates an excellent substrate for veneer. It is well weighted which makes it ideal for making veneer furniture. This furniture is of high quality as well as very long-lasting, not to mention finished beautifully!
Thankfully, you can now own stunning furniture which looks just like the real thing, at a fraction of the cost. Today, MDF furniture is one of the best-selling furniture types across the globe!
The best part about many of the MDF-covered veneer furniture on the market is that no formaldehyde is used in their manufacturing. This substance can be quite toxic to humans.
Yes! You read that correctly! You can even cover metal with veneer! Although it was not a very popular substrate until more recently, it is slowly becoming a lot more common. The issue however with using metal as a substrate is the actual adhesion of the veneer to the metallic surface because of little to no surface friction. It is not recommended that you try to stick a veneer sheet onto metal directly. Often, what needs to be done is to use another veneer as a backing or base coat layer first. You would then use a polyurethane adhesive to stick this base layer of veneer to the metal.
Staining Wood Veneer
A question that is undoubtedly popular is if it is possible to apply a stain on to veneer. Despite the fact that the veneer is thin, it is still wood! Yes, veneers are sometimes called “engineered wood”, however, many types of veneer can be stained and even varnished. Ultimately, the process is much the same as staining a regular solid wood.
There is, however, a bit of a preparation process involved when it comes to staining veneer. One needs to lightly sand the veneer first. You do not want to sand off too much of the top veneer layer, otherwise, the entire board could end up damaged beyond repair. As mentioned before, a veneer is created from many wood layers. Because of this, one should apply some sealant on any exposed edges to avoid any moisture entering which will ultimately lead to the veneer splitting and warping.
Once dried and cured, you then are able to apply your top layer veneer, the one that will be seen. You need to ensure that you use a very high-quality glue that is both heat and cold resistant. Should the item you are covering ever be exposed to abnormal heat or cold, it will hold up well.
If you did not know what veneer was, you certainly should now! Not only should you know what veneer wood is, but the difference between the various kinds of veneer and how they differ from solid wood. If you are going to be applying your own veneer, remember to ensure your adhesive is of high quality so that your project is long-lasting and durable. Do not forget to seal the veneer from moisture too! Last but not least, always work in an area that is well ventilated, working with adhesives such as polyurethane needs extra care and safety precautions. We wish you good luck with your veneer DIY applications!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Should You Clean a Veneer Surface?
Veneer can be ruined if not cleaned correctly. Many people own veneer tables and often, these tables have scuffs and scratch marks. These are common; however, dirt is not! Dust off your veneer surface and then use a glass cleaner that is ammonia-free. Not only will your table look fresher, but it will help maintain the sheen finish of the veneer as well.
What Is Acacia Veneer?
Acacia trees are beautiful and so are acacia veneers! Created from the tree itself, they have a lovely dark brown color. It is also a very popular choice thanks to its almost red hue. Often, acacia veneer is used for furniture or countertops. This veneer is also more unusual than most because of the curves in the wood grain.
What Are Oak Veneers?
Oak veneer is a very high-quality type of veneer created from slicking oak wood. It is often then added to the MDF board. Oak veneers have a lovely aesthetic which brings a lovely robust and natural feel to the room. Some veneer has been engineered to look a lot like oak, but the difference is apparent because of how it is cut.