Solid Wood Versus Engineered Wood: What Should You Choose For Your Furniture?

Solid Wood Versus Engineered Wood: What Should You Choose For Your Furniture?

Solid Wood Versus Engineered Wood: What Should You Choose For Your Furniture?

Not much brain work is required to know the difference between solid wood and engineered word – one is a natural product while the other is a product ‘engineered’ to have an appearance like wood. There is no beating the aesthetical appeal of all things natural; that remains true when you compare made-made wood with the natural wood. However, man-made products, too, have their several merits, and that is how they have made their presence felt in the world of furniture making.  

Before we talk about the various advantages and disadvantages of engineered, which is often referred to as compact wood also, let us talk about their various types of wood, natural and engineered, available in the market.

The varieties

Solid wood: If you are looking for natural wood to build your furniture, you would primarily find two varieties in the market, hardwood and softwood. While hardwood is the wood that takes a long time to grow, softwood is the wood that takes comparatively shorter time to become usable. While oak, maple, ash, cherry and walnut are the perfect examples of hardwood, fir, poplar and pine are the common varieties of soft wood. You could also find in the market articles of furniture build from locally produced wood depending on the region.


Engineered wood: The names are often used interchangeably, but it is important to know the difference between the various types of the man-made wood-lookalikes available in the market.  

Plywood is the most commonly used wood-lookalike available in the market. Thin layers are wood are glues together to create plywood.

There is also veneered wood, which is created by adding a thin layer of wood on top a board created out of wood fibres ad sawdust.

There is also sun mica or laminate wood, which is created by pressing together multiple layers of plastic resins and flat paper. A printed process is used to give it a wood-grain appearance.


Advantages and disadvantages of solid wood products

Now that we know the varieties, we may venture into listing out the advantages and disadvantages of the type you might be going to pick so that you are able to make an informed decision.

Timeless beauty: First and foremost, there is no challenging the look and feel of real, natural wood.  No matter how impeccably a man-made design has been crafted, the little imperfections that are part of the natural wood are hard to imitate. The beauty of solid wood furniture thus remains unchallenged. If you have been lucky enough to get a furniture made of real solid wood, it is going to last you generations. Small damages could be easily repaired, too.

Eco-friendly: Picking solid wood also means picking an environment-friendly option. There are no hazardous fumes emitting of the furniture causing indoor air pollution. Considering air pollution is a major cause of concern in this day and age, we would certainly not want our furniture to add to the existing pollution levels.

Better resale value: If you were to sell you furniture because of some reason you would be able to get a good deal. The same is not true of furniture made out of engineered wood.

Comparatively expensive: All things of fine quality have an expensive price tag. The same is true of solid wood. While the prices may vary depending on the variety of wood you choose, opting for solid wood would be much costlier when compared to opting for engineered wood.

Hard to handle: It the sturdiness of solid wood lies a little problem. Furniture made out of this wood would be comparatively heavier. This makes and moving and shifting them slightly harder when compared to furniture made of man-made wood.

Prone to weather conditions: Being a natural product solid wood is susceptible weather conditions. While high humidity levels can cause warps, expansion and contraction, exposure to moisture would lead to mold problems. Also if the wood is not property treated, it could also be infested of termites.

Hard to differentiate: Most of us may be an expert when it comes to wood. This makes us susceptible to getting shortchanged. There are hardly any guarantees that the carpenter is using only oak wood and not some cheaper type to make your order. You maple wood chair may not be a wood made of maple wood after all. Worse of all, you may not be able to make sure that it is not.

Advantages and disadvantages of engineered wood products

To some people, engineered wood may sound like the second-best option, but some others do not think that way. Those who have the eye to appreciate man-made perfections, something that the natural wood does not provide, they are the first option. This is also because of several other factors.

Affordable option:  When compared to solid wood, furniture made out of engineered wood is way more affordable.

Change is easy: In today’s time, we like to update our furniture way more frequently than our parents or our parents’ parents did. If you are one of those who get bored easily, it might not make much sense to invest huge amounts in furniture that you may want to change in a couple of years.

Stand better to weather conditions: In the construction process engineered wood is treated in a way that makes it impervious to weather effects. This means exposure to humidity or moisture would not cause warping, cracking or dings. The wood is also impervious to termite attack.

Easy to move: When compared to solid wood, man-made wood may be lighter. This makes it an ideal choice for people who are prone to shifting frequently.  This quality also makes movement within the house easy, too. The lightness makes engineered wood the idea choice for cabinet doors.

Not always eco-friendly: In most cases, chemicals with formaldehyde are used to create and treat the wood. This may deteriorate the air quality indoors.

Shorter life span:  On an average, an article of furniture made out of engineered wood not last longer than a piece made out of solid wood. Those who want to make one-time investment in a piece of furniture may not be happy with the durability.  

Grip issues: Because of the layering, engineered wood does not hold screws and nuts as well as solid wood does. These would loosen from time to time and need tightening. 

Last Updated: Thu Mar 28 2019

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