When it comes to home decor, a sea of options sometimes makes the simple act of choosing become an ordeal. To add to that, with the rise in innovation in modular furnishings, a range of different surface finishes are gaining popularity, making it all the more confusing to settle for the best. Both laminates and veneers are great options as surface finishes for cabinets, closets, and other home furnishings and are among the most commonly used materials.
Wood veneers are narrow strips or a layer of wood sliced off a thick tree log. On the other hand, laminates are sheets consisting of layers of plastics and resins packed and glued together. What ties them together is that both materials are fastened to a solid wood base or plywood, MDF, among other wood or non-wood materials.
In this article, we get down to the specifics of laminates and veneers to give you a clear understanding of laminates and veneers, their uses and their application. So, if you’re looking to design or redesign your home or office and search for sturdy surface materials, here’s a great place to begin.
Unlike veneers, since laminates are surfaces that are made by sandwiching together layers of plastics, resins and flat paper, it naturally opens up a broader space for customisation. There are many laminates in different colours, patterns, and finishes for you to choose from - from matte to glossy, textured, metallic, acrylic, digital and more.
Laminates are generally far easier to maintain when compared to veneers, which makes it a perfect household option. Good quality laminates can last up to several years with their look intact compared to veneers, which are more prone to damage based on use.
For a modern-day house, laminates are a great option as it’s easy to maintain, clean, replace and mend when compared to veneers whose damage can be permanent.
Since laminates are made by pressing together already pressed wood, they are sturdy and built to last long. Today, there’s a range of laminates that come scratch, water and wear & tear-resistant. It all depends on what you choose.
Laminates make use of resins, plastics and adhesives, which aren’t necessarily environment-friendly. If you’re looking to design a sustainable home, then veneers are your best bet as they’re biodegradable and renewable, being made from natural wood strips.
Laminates are on the most cost-effective side, making it a pocket-friendly option for many. However, it’s important to remember that the range of laminates is fairly wide, and the pricing of laminates depends on their quality and brand value. It always helps when you find manufacturers and interior decorators who you can trust.
A veneer is a thin layer of hardwood, which means that each layer comes with a different wood pattern from the next based on log patterns. So all veneers will naturally have a wood-like finish. Being derived from wood, veneers have that extravagance and elegance, showcasing the natural beauty of a solid wood surface. Since they are sourced from raw tree logs, no two veneers look alike, which sets your furniture apart.
Veneers are good while they last based on their usage and care. Over time, they can wear and become prone to tear because of their softness compared to laminate sheets. It’s easy to maintain when due care is given, and the surface doesn’t come in contact with moisture or heat. Due to this, veneers are great for centre points or statement furniture pieces where there’s less chance of the surface getting abrasions. Due to their softness, veneers might not withstand surfaces with tough use.
A veneer can be long-lasting and durable depending on the usage, workmanship and brand. Since it is made of wood slices and has a particleboard core, there’s a higher tendency for moisture retention. However, when cared for, veneers can last for 10 to 15 years.
Since veneers are wood derivatives, they are renewable. As opposed to multiple logs of timber used to make solid wood furniture, veneers are wood chips which means that several slices can be obtained, including throwaway wood that can be re-purposed.
Solid wood can sometimes prove costly, and since veneers are derived from wood, they provide options for emulating solid wood finishes at a more affordable price. You can achieve the look you want within a budget, as veneers are great at helping you do that. High-end veneers derived from expensive wood can be a lot more expensive than laminates for the sheer sake of wood quality.
How to choose: Veneers or Laminates?
Ultimately, when choosing the perfect surface finish for your home or office furniture, it boils down to what you like. If it’s a classic look you’re going for, an earthy, natural, and more sustainable option like veneers are your best bet. However, if you wish to go more modern, chic, and trendy, laminates might be the right pick for you.