What is Veneer Furniture?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Veneer furniture is any type of furniture that is finished with a thin sliver of wood or other material on the surface of the piece. This thin exterior coating is known as veneer and may be composed of real wood, wood laminate, or a resin product designed to mimic the look or marble or other natural elements. In general, veneer is used to provide a richer look to furniture constructed with less expensive materials.

Oak is commonly used in veneer furniture.
Oak is commonly used in veneer furniture.

Producing veneers for use in veneer furniture normally involves creating the slivers from sheets of wood or other materials. To accomplish this, most manufacturers utilize a lathe. This allows them to produce slivers or sheets in any length desired while also producing veneers with different levels of thickness. Doing so makes it possible to produce a desk with a nice veneer with the same ease as applying the thin exterior layer to an entertainment stand or set of end tables.

Some furniture is made more attractive through the use of a veneer covering.
Some furniture is made more attractive through the use of a veneer covering.

Many people associate veneer furniture with discount furniture pieces that come in kits and are assembled at home by the consumer. Many of these discount tables, shelving units and computer desks are constructed with pressboard and then covered with a laminate veneer intended to simulate the look of real wood. While they are generally affordable and will last for several years, they do not have the durability of solid wood furniture and are generally replaced in time.

However, there are examples of veneer furniture that are of higher quality and designed to last for longer periods of time. Instead of pressboard, some manufacturers choose to use solid sections of wood that are very durable but not considered the most desirable for furniture. As such, they are less expensive than using oak or maple. To provide these solid wood pieces with a more expensive appearance, it is not unusual for the finished produce to be provided with a hardwood veneer made from a more expensive wood. When manufactured with care, this type of veneer furniture can look very much like a solid oak or maple piece and will last for a number of years.

One of the main advantages to both manufacturers and consumers is the veneer cost. For the consumer, a piece finished with quality veneer supplies makes it possible to purchase attractive furniture even when the budget is very tight. For manufacturers, the use of different types of veneer make it possible to produce furniture for a lower cost per unit, thus increasing the profit realized from each product sold.

Installing cabinet veneers allows homeowners to enjoy the look of more expensive cabinets without having to spend as much money.
Installing cabinet veneers allows homeowners to enjoy the look of more expensive cabinets without having to spend as much money.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@lonelygod - I agree that it isn't really fair to compare handmade wood furniture, to something cheap with a wood veneer finish on it. Veneer furniture is meant to be affordable and really just suits the needs of those on a budget.

In my home we have all veneer furniture, mostly the kind that you put together yourself. I am pretty sure everything we bought came out of a box with an instruction manual.

Anyway, what I like about veneer furniture is that it is easily replaceable. I have a cat that likes to claw things, and that's fine with a $10 coffee table. If it were real wood I would probably have a panic attack.


My mother always hated veneer furniture and I never really understood why. I suppose I liked the shiny finish, why she just felt that it looked a bit overdone and fake.

My childhood was filled with quite a lot of wood furniture, most of it made by my grandfather many years before. He was quite the woodworker back in his day and only used the best materials. Perhaps my mom just felt that the cheaper wood veneer furniture just couldn't hold up to the handmade stuff.

I suppose I agree with my mom in some respects, but really, comparing veneer furniture and handmade wood furniture isn't really fair.


@oasis11 - Another option for something that's cheap and you don't have to worry about it too much is secondhand furniture. You can pick up something cheap and slap a coat of paint on it (especially if it's something for your kids).

But I agree that oak veneer furniture can be a nice way to go if you want something new and shiny, but on a budget. I personally like to get things that will last, things that can be fixed/refinished, but I can't always find what I want secondhand and I admit that sometimes I just grab a bookcase at Walmart!


@Oasis11 -I like wood veneer furniture, but you have to inspect the furniture piece to make sure that the construction is sturdy enough. Some of these veneer furniture pieces are put together in a really sloppy way, and you can see it when you push on the board to see how strong it is.

There are great deals out there for wood veneer furniture but if you are concerned with durability you might want to invest in solid wood furniture. The nice thing about this type of furniture is that you can pass it down to other generations in your family and it can become a family heirloom.

If you get some scratches you can simply get the furniture refinished. I rather go with solid wood furniture. I think that you tend to get what you pay for.


I actually like wood veneer furniture because it is usually really cheap and it looks as good as solid wood furniture. I have two young kids and I have to say that for me it is better to buy veneer wood furniture because kids sometimes can be hard on furniture and at least if something breaks it is easy to replace because you did not invest so much money.

I have mahogany furniture in my bedroom and living room and I have to say that I love the way it looks and have never had a problem with the construction. I like the darker finishes more than the lighter ones. I think that it makes the space look more luxurious.

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