More and more stores are fooling customers into thinking they are buying solid, long-lasting pieces of furniture for less money. Laminate furniture, a development that helps large corporations make and ship uniform-looking goods, is the chief culprit. The advances in mimicking real wood mean that laminate could have easily snuck into your home. Here’s how you can tell if you’ve got real wood furniture or a laminate imitation!
The Weight Of Wood Vs Laminate
The first indicator of real wood is weight because natural, solid wood furniture is heavy. You can feel the heft even in pieces that aren’t very big. Lightweight furniture is usually laminate, with a fake finish covering up some particleboard!
The Construction Of The Piece
Real wood furniture takes craftsmanship, and one of the ways you can tell what a table or desk is made of is by looking for details of this craftsmanship. Check if the pieces are put together using the dovetail method where a “tongue” fits into a groove. Laminate is usually fixed together with screws or glue.
If you see unfinished wood underneath the furniture, it’s probably wood and not laminate because the latter will often completely cover the material front and back.
The Grain Of The Wood
One of the most fantastic things about real wood is that no two grains are exactly alike because no two trees are exactly alike! If the pattern varies wildly, the wood is probably real. However, if the pattern repeats (or if it lacks a grain altogether), it’s a laminate.
What About Wood Veneer?
Laminate is a factory-made material that is pressed and layered to look like real wood, and real wood comes from real trees (in case that wasn’t obvious). But what about wood veneer furniture? This type of furniture is made from a thin layer of solid wood on top of a plywood core. It does use the real deal, especially if it’s large with many smaller pieces (e.g. a veneer chest can have solid wood drawers).
While veneer furniture is better than laminate because of the material it uses, it does not have the integrity or sourcing typical of furniture made from solid wood. One way to tell is by looking at the grain; veneer furniture can preserve certain natural patterns, but it tends to have a lot of repetition while lacking texture. Solid wood also does not have grain on the edges, whereas a wood veneer will show a horizontal grain pattern along the edges.
You can tell if the furniture has a wood veneer by examining the sides and bottom. By looking closely, you should be able to tell where the sheet of veneer attaches to the front of the furniture. Craftsmanship is the key to making real wood furniture, and we do our best to turn London wood into something that will last a lifetime!