What is Hardwood Veneer?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mahogany is a common hardwood used in veneers.
Mahogany is a common hardwood used in veneers.

Hardwood veneer is a wood product made from hardwood, wood which comes from trees classified as angiosperms. Hardwoods tend to grow more slowly than other types of trees, developing very dense, closely grained wood as a result, and this type of wood is prized because of its high quality, durability, and beauty. It is also very expensive to use hardwood, which explains the market for hardwood veneer, a less costly product with some of the same aesthetic benefits as solid hardwood.

Oak is commonly used in veneers.
Oak is commonly used in veneers.

Veneers consist of thin strips of wood overlaid across a backing made from less expensive wood products. Hardwood veneer can be installed over plywood, particleboard, and a variety of other products. Veneers can also be used for inlay; for example, thin strips of one type of hardwood might be inlaid into a cabinet made from solid hardwood pieces which come from another species of tree.

Hardwood veneer is commonly used on furniture.
Hardwood veneer is commonly used on furniture.

Some common hardwoods which can be used in veneers include: cherry, ebony, mahogany, boxwood, holly, maple, teak, ash, oak, and beech. The veneer can be harvested from the tree by cutting, sawing, or shaving, with the angle of the cut determining the appearance of the veneer. Some veneers are more grainy because they are cut against the bias of the wood, highlighting the natural variations, while others have a more even, smooth appearance because they are cut with the grain.

People can use hardwood veneer for furniture, flooring, inlays, and counters, among other things. The advantage to using veneer is that veneer is less expensive than solid hardwood, and in the case of inlays, utilizing veneer allows people to create patterns with various species and colors of wood. Veneered furniture has a similar look as products made from solid hardwood, at a fraction of the cost, which makes it appealing for people who want a specific look and feel but have trouble affording it.

Sheets of veneer can be purchased from lumber companies and some home supply stores for people who want to apply veneer themselves. Veneer sheets can be used to refinish or rework an existing object, or to finish a freshly completed project, and they can also be utilized for inlays. When working with veneer sheets, people should remember that the two sides of the hardwood veneer often look different, and that veneers come in a variety of finishes, from totally raw veneer to products with adhesive backings for attachment and a finished surface which will face out.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

subway11

@Mutsy -Hardwood veneer flooring is a great way to get that hardwood look for less money, but you have to remember to include soundproofing materials during the installation.

I live in a condo where the lady that lives in the apartment directly above me installed some hardwood veneer flooring and forgot to include the soundproofing materials. I hear every click clack when she walks around and I even hear whenever she pulls out a chair. It is so annoying.

I tried complaining, but nothing is ever done. These floors might be cheaper than traditional hardwood floors, but you still have to make sure that you don’t cut corners in the installation.

mutsy

My husband had laminate flooring put in our home and had removed the carpeting. This hardwood veneer flooring did not have the fifty year warranty that the walnut hardwood floors typically had, but it was still considered very sturdy and durable.

It came with a twenty-five year guarantee. I think that a space looks so much sleeker and sophisticated with the use of this type of flooring and I saved a lot by going this route rather than using regular hardwood flooring.

I also like the fact that the color of the flooring does not fade with the sunlight that comes in through the windows, and you never really need to wax the floors because the shine remains.

oasis11

@Manykitties2 - I do too. Since I have small children, I cannot afford to buy real wood furniture so I buy furniture made of hardwood veneer instead. It is amazing how appealing this furniture looks.

You just have to be careful that you don’t spill anything on it. I bought a unit for my DVD’s that had really attractive drawers and accidentally got it wet and the finish started to peel a little and become a little lifted off the bottom. Luckily I didn’t spend too much money on this piece of furniture.

manykitties2

There are so many kinds of hardwood veneers available that you can get pretty much get any look for your house very cheaply. I love the look of walnut hardwood, but it can be really expensive to purchase. Wood veneers do a good job of making inexpensive furniture look a lot more substantial.

One thing I am curious about is some of the more exotic hardwood out there. Has anyone ever seen a hardwood veneer that is made to look like Acacia or Brazilian Cherry?

I love the variety of colors of exotic lumber, but it is so expensive that it out of my reach.

popcorn

Buying furniture with a hardwood veneer is a good bet if you are looking to save cash but still want to have furniture that looks stylish. I managed to get an entire dining room set at about a quarter of the cost as actual hardwood. I really don't think it looks like a cheap knockoff either.

What I really like about furniture that has a hardwood veneer is that it is easy to clean, and you don't have to worry as much if it gets damaged as it is cheap to replace. My wife and I usually just wipe the hardwood veneer down with a damp cloth and it looks like new.

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    • Mahogany is a common hardwood used in veneers.
      Mahogany is a common hardwood used in veneers.
    • Oak is commonly used in veneers.
      Oak is commonly used in veneers.
    • Hardwood veneer is commonly used on furniture.
      Hardwood veneer is commonly used on furniture.