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Wood Veneer Grades

Wood Veneer Grades

When you are shopping around looking at the different types of wood veneer that are available, it helps to know more about the product. Wood veneer quality is graded on a sliding scale based on its appearance to help you make the right decision for your project. In this article we go into more detail about wood veneer grades and what they mean.

What affects the appearance of a wood veneer?

There are four main attributes that determine the appearance of wood veneers:

  • Wood species
  • This determines the colour and grain of the veneer. Most species are divided into softwoods (such as birch, oak, cherry and maple) and softwoods (fir, pine, redwood and cedar etc.)

  • Veneer cutting
  • How the veneer is cut will dictate the presentation of the grain. Popular cutting methods include rotary cuts, quarter sliced, plain sliced and rift cut.

  • Veneer matching
  • The way the veneer leaves are matched and arranged will determine the pattern you see. Common matching techniques used include book matching, pleasing matching, slip matching and random matching.

  • Grade
  • This is an indication of the quality and natural variation of the wood and the grade level is a good indication of its value for certain applications, which we explain in more detail below.

    What are the different wood veneer grades?

    There are five different wood veneer grades which are based primarily on the appearance of the finished product:

  • AA grade
  • This is a premium face grade and is typically used for architectural panelling and interior projects, as well as high-end furniture pieces. AA grade veneers are also used when appearance continuity on several sheets is needed.

  • A grade
  • If the AA grade is not needed for the project, the A grade is the next best option, especially where quality aesthetics are key. The veneer still has good structure and some small variations in colour but retains an attractive appearance.

  • B grade
  • You may see some variation in colour and knots on this grade, as Grade B veneers have an irregular structure. A shorter series of similar faces are also available with this grade.

  • C grade
  • C grade is a good option where costs are important to the project. This grade allows for increased natural characteristics and unlimited colour and is beneficial for many commercial applications.

  • D/E grade
  • Where a more rustic appearance is desired, or the surface is hidden, the D/E is often suitable. There will unlimitedly colour variation and repairs and provide an all-round sound veneer surface.

    Wood veneer back grades

    Wood veneer faces are graded and so too are wood veneer backs, although they are rated by number rather than letter.

    Grade 1 is the most restrictive, with grades 2, 3 and 4 progressively less so. All openings on grades 1 and 2 are repaired, except for vertical worm holes that do not exceed 1.6mm. Some open defects are allowed on grades 3 and 4, although if requested by the buyer, there are some grade 3 veneers available that have repaired joints, splits, laps, bark pockets and knotholes that help to achieve a sound surface. Knot holes up to 102mm in diameter are permitted on grade 4 veneers, while open joints and splits are limited by length and width.

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