Not All Wood Furniture Is Created Equal

Wood furniture is very popular and most people have at least some wood pieces in their home. Not all woods are created equal. Use this as a quick guide to help you evaluate the woods you’ll encounter as you shop for your new furniture.

Solid wood furniture is either made of hardwood, softwood, or a combination of the two.

Hardwood
Hardwood is as it sounds; strong, dent resistant and durable. Common hardwoods used in furniture include cherry, oak, walnut, mahogany, teak, maple and ash. Generally, hardwood furniture is more expensive. It also will last longer and has the potential to live on for years to come as heirlooms and antiques.

Softwood
Softwood furniture is usually less expensive but still made of solid wood. Common softwoods used in furniture are cedar, pine and fir. Softwood furniture is a great place to start if you like to put your own personal signature on the items in your home. They are usually inexpensive enough to play with, painting or staining to match your own personal style and tastes.

Laminates and Veneers
You will also run into furniture that is not solid wood, but has either wood veneers or wood laminates. Wood veneers are very thin layers of high-quality fine woods that are secured to wood of less quality, such as softwood, plywood, or particle board. Veneers are used in furniture of all qualities and price levels, so don’t discount this option for furniture that looks like fine hardwood but isn’t quite as expensive. Wood laminates are very similar to veneers, but the thin top layer is a hardwood imitation that is bonded to composite materials like particle board. Wood laminate is usually much less expensive.

Wood Finishes and Joints
It’s not just the type of wood your furniture is made of that determines its look. The joints and finishes used usually link furniture to a particular style and are often the small details that turn an acceptable piece into an exceptional piece. Finishes are not just for decoration, but also for protection from the elements. The better the finish, the longer the wood will maintain its original appearance. Some pieces are finished in a deliberately rustic manner, which is great for hiding small scratches and fingerprints in high traffic areas.