Wood Veneer vs. Laminate
When it comes to economical furnishing or interior decorations, wood veneer and laminate are often the two most popular choices for consumers. While both can look great in your home, there is much more to consider than just appearances, such as durability, cost and maintenance. We compare the benefits of wood veneer and laminate to help you decide which one is best for you.
What is wood veneer?
Veneer furniture is a specialised woodworking technique that has been around for hundreds of years. It’s a process that involves the bonding together of several slices of thin wood to a stable substrate to give the appearance of solid wood. Some of the biggest furniture companies in the world rely heavily on wood veneer to produce long-lasting and affordable pieces to make wood more accessible to homeowners. The natural beauty of the wood stands out to enhance its character and unique patterns, making it ideal for furniture and decorative pieces.
Wood veneers are manufactured following a strict production procedure that starts with the stripping, debarking and softening (in temperatures up to 100°C) a tree trunk, before it is cut, peeling, dried and inspected for various quality checks. It can be used in a host of different applications both indoors and outdoors and is available in a variety of thickness, although 0.6mm tends to provide the best results for veneer panels.
What are the benefits of wood veneer?
Wood veneer offers a wonderful natural alternative to laminate that is just as competitive in terms of price. The production costs are low because only thin slices of wood are used, rather than larger solid chunks, before being glued to a substrate like MDF, for example. Consumers also benefit from this because retail prices are lower, making it a more affordable option.
The material can be easily cleaned with a duster or a lightly damp cloth for more stubborn stains. This makes life much easier in terms of upkeep and ensures you don’t have to spend more money on unnecessary maintenance materials and tools.
One of the best benefits of wood veneer is its durability, as the natural resistance of the material enables it to withstand everyday wear and tear. It also has high levels of protection against exposure to changing temperatures and conditions, so it won’t warp or split unlike solid wood. And if you want to enhance its longevity even further, you can apply a protective coating (with or without stain) to shield it against dirt, dust and other unwanted particles.
Because wood veneer comes from a natural resource (often from managed forests) it is often a more sustainable option when it comes to home furnishings. The manufacturing process ensures more can be made from each tree trunk and there is very little waste involved. And, of course, wood can be easily recycled, so if you decide to change things in the future you can do so in a sustainable way.
What is laminate?
Laminate is an engineered material made from plastic that is bonded to a composite base. High pressure and low-pressure laminate are the two varieties that are most used for commercial products. It offers a low-cost method of mimicking other surfaces like real wood or marble, although upon close inspection you can often tell the difference.
Multiple layers are bonded together under high pressure and heat to form high pressure laminate which makes the finished product very hard wearing. During the manufacturing process around 1,000 to 1,5000 pounds of pressure is applied per square inch, while temperatures can reach as high as 320 degrees. This gives the product a high level of protection against general wear and tear, so it can resist scratches, stains and heat exposure.
Low pressure laminate (also known as melamine) features a single layer of plastic bonded to a stable composite base, although no adhesives are used. The product is heated to around 375 degrees, while the pressure is much lower at 435 pounds per square inch. This type of laminate works better for showpiece products, as it is less durable than high pressure laminate and will not last as long if over exposed.
What are the benefits of laminate?
The main benefits of laminate-based products include:
- Low maintenance
Laminate is very easy to clean, requiring only a dust or wipe down to keep it clean. However, avoid exposing laminate to sunlight for too long as it can lead to fading and discolouration.
High pressure laminate is used for flooring products and can cope with high footfall levels. It is stain and scratch resistant, although it may not look as aesthetically pleasing as some other materials.
Laminate is cheap to manufacture which makes it a good choice for customers working to a budget. Its longevity also means you can get good value for money