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What is Veneer?

By C. Ausbrooks
Updated Feb 26, 2024
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Veneer is a thin covering applied to the surface of another object in order to conceal its true appearance. It is typically more attractive than the object itself, and it is used to enhance aesthetic appeal or improve value. This type of covering is most commonly used in woodworking, but may also be used in masonry, stonework, and even dentistry.

Wood veneer is a layer of wood less than 1/8 inch (3 mm) in thickness. It is glued onto flat panels of particleboard, fiberboard, or wood to create doors, cabinets, and different furniture parts. In woodworking, veneer is created by slicing or peeling a tree trunk to obtain a sheet of the wood in the correct thickness. This art can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, who used the product to create furniture and other objects.

There are several distinct types used in woodworking, each with different properties. Raw veneer has no backing and can be glued on either side. Paper-backed products have a paper backing, and they are available in small, medium, and large sizes for veneering small areas and curves. Phenolic-backed veneer is man-made and although less common, is becoming more popular due to concerns for natural resources.

In masonry, veneer is a layer of bricks used to cover the surface of a wall, but which does not add any additional strength to the structure. It is used to make a building or wall more visually appealing without interfering with the structural integrity. Concrete blocks, stones, and adobe are sometimes used in the same manner.

In stonework, what is known as stone or brick veneer is used in many different construction applications, although most commonly to build homes. It is created by pouring a light concrete mixture into stone-shaped molds and allowing it to harden. The end result is a faux stone that can be applied to buildings and walls for decorative purposes. As in masonry, this covering does not bear the load of the wall or increase the strength of the structure to which it has been applied.

In dentistry, veneer refers to a thin layer of material that is placed over the surface of a tooth. This is done in order to improve the appearance of the tooth, or to protect its surface from damage. Tooth veneers are typically made of either porcelain or composite material, and they are bonded to the tooth using resin cement.

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Discussion Comments
By ceilingcat — On Apr 24, 2012

I actually saw a commercial the other day for another type of veneer you can use in your home: bathtub veneers! Instead of replacing your entire bathtub, the veneer suppliers will just put a veneer on top of your existing tub to make it look new.

I think this is a pretty neat idea, and it sounds like it would take much, much less time than putting in a completely new bathtub.

I guess you would have to clean your bathtub pretty well before putting the veneer on it though. I would hate to think of having mold just fester in between the layers or something like that.

By strawCake — On Apr 23, 2012

@Azuza - Dental veneers can get pretty expensive. One of my friends had them done, and she chose to get them on her front teeth only. Also, she was able to work out a payment plan with her dentist, so she didn't have to pay for the whole thing at once. Hers turned out really nicely!

I don't personally have any experience with dental veneers, but I do have some experience with laminate veneer. My parents got their kitchen redone recently, and they decided to go with the laminate veneer for their cabinets. It was much cheaper and looks just as good!

By Azuza — On Apr 23, 2012

I had no idea that the term "veneer" could refer to so many different things! I usually think of dental veneers when I hear the word veneers, rather than granite veneer for a house or something like that.

I actually have a few friends that got veneers on their teeth, and I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. From what I understand, veneers can be quite expensive! Also, if the dentist doesn't do it right, your teeth can end up looking really weird and thick, like a square piece of white chewing gum!

By anon47291 — On Oct 03, 2009

I ordered a custom built desk made of solid oak. the contract states it will be made of oak veneer and solids. What should I expect?

By anon35036 — On Jul 01, 2009

May i know if there 30x30cm veneer tiles?

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