Laminate or Veneer – Which is best Furniture Finish To Select?
Laminate (called Sun mica in India) and veneer are the most widely used finishing material for MDF furniture, chipboard plywood, or solid wood. Laminate and veneer are decorative materials for furniture, cabinets, ceilings, wall panels, and more.
Both materials have their specialties. While design and aesthetics are a major concern, you shouldn’t forget about durability and cost.
Confused about which to select: laminate or veneer? In this article, the two will be compared based on durability, appearance, price, and ease of maintenance.
Table of Contents
- 1 Laminate:
- 1.1 Advantages of laminate:
- 1.2 Disadavantages of laminate:
- 1.3 What place is better to use laminate?
- 2 Veneer:
- 3 Final Thought on laminate or veneer:
A laminated material made by pressing thin layers of flat paper and plastic resins together. Create a decorative pattern or colored print for the top layer.
Since the laminate is pre-printed, you cannot find natural variations in the sheet as you can in the veneer. However, there are infinite other designs to choose from.
Most laminated sheets are available in sheets from 1.8mm to 6mm thick.
The price of a laminate sheet is always calculated per square foot. Its price may vary depending on the pattern, the type of finish, and the thickness of the sheet. Price from around 70Rs. per sq. Ft at 900Rs. per sq. Ft.
Advantages of laminate:
At a reasonable price:
Laminates are factory-made products and therefore easy to make. Their manufacturing price is low and they are widely available. If you are on a budget, laminate is the best option.
Variation of colors and shades:
Available in many colors and shades, they can be broadly classified into textured, high gloss, smooth, and matte. Due to the accessibility of glossy and rough textures, laminates can copy almost all surface textures, including wood, leather, marble, stone, and more. Some digital printers also create specific prints on sheets.
Scratch resistance and simple to maintain:
Laminate is better than veneer at fighting heat, moisture, stains, and scratches, making them easier to clean and care for. You can clean it with a damp cloth or use a little soapy water without worrying about damage. Therefore, they are best for high circulation and humid areas such as kitchens and tables.
It does not need to be polished, refined, or colored like a normal varnish.
Disadavantages of laminate:
Lack of natural feeling:
There is a synthetic feel associated with laminate and it lacks the natural feel and variation of wood.
Most laminates are coated with a thin, clear plastic protective film over the printed decorative layer. Unlike veneers, they cannot be sanded, stained, or textured as the design requires.
You can paint it with a lot of effort, but you don’t have options to recycle the furniture. Eventually, it begins to show signs of wear and tear.
The top layer of the laminate is brittle and prone to wear. Therefore, they tend to have a shorter lifespan than veneer furniture.
Best laminate brands offer a minimum 10-year warranty on their products.
Non-renewable and sometimes toxic:
A laminated sheet contains plastic and resins. Some resins release harmful gases.
Possibility of cutting at the edges:
In most veneer installations, corners and joints are sealed with polishing material. On the other hand, the edges of the laminate application remain open and sharp. Poor workmanship often leads to rigid laminate shredding and breaking that can only be fixed by replacing a new sheet.
What place is better to use laminate?
It is the best option for areas that suffer from wear and tear.
Used where durability, impact, and scratch resistance are important.
Examples: tabletop, office furniture, cabinets, doors, etc.
A veneer is technically a thin layer of hardwood that is attached to the hidden surface underneath with adhesive. The interior of the veneer is made of synthetic materials such as a low-quality wood base, flat paper, MDF, or particleboard.
There are certain types of veneers, each for a specific purpose. You can classify veneers into reconstituted, raw, phenolic-backed, paper-backed, laid up, and wood-on-wood veneer. Since it is a natural material, a veneer is available in a limited number of shades. Most veneer sheets are available in 4mm to 8mm thick sheets.
The price of a sheet is always calculated per sheet (generally 8’x4). Its price may vary depending on the properties as well as the thickness of the sheet (0.8, 1, 1.25 mm). Prices range from Rs 600 per sheet to Rs 6000 per sheet.
Advantages of veneer:
Since veneers are made of wood, they retain the beauty and grace of wood. Unlike laminate, each veneer has a distinctive look and adds a sense of richness to furniture.
Get Require Tinting and Texturing:
Veneer sheets can be colored and polished to achieve the desired color and grain to match the design theme.
Although the strength and overall attractiveness of the coating application are highly dependent on workmanship, quality installations last a long time. If installed and maintained correctly, the veneer is likely to last a minimum of 15 years.
A veneer is a renewable resource and goes a long way in economically replacing solid wood applications. A log of wood produces several veneered slices, increasing your profitability. Not only does it have that, but expensive veneer sheets can also be supported by a reasonable plank of wood or plywood to get the preferred rich look on a budget.
Disadvantages of veneer:
It is not scratch and moisture resistant:
Veneer scratches easily compared to laminate. This means that you need to be extra careful when using veneer furniture and avoid placing it in areas where it will be prone to scratches or dents.
Veneer sheets are weaker than laminated sheets. Once the polish layer deteriorates over time, the veneer becomes vulnerable to scratches.
Veneer sheets can bubble or warp if moisture seeps into the core material or if the top layer is exposed to heat. Therefore, they are not a great option for kitchens, bathrooms, and other wet areas.
Need to polish in time:
To maintain the shine, the veneer must be repeatedly polished (the process of spraying or painting a polished material to restore the lost color or texture). Depending on the thickness of the polish applied, the surface can be sanded or repainted to cover the deformation or shed tears.
Expensive in the price:
Cutting the veneer and installing the sheet on any surface requires skilled labor. This extra effort makes them more expensive than laminate. Also, some premium veneer sheets can cost a bundle.
What place is better to use veneer?
Used in places that are less prone to wear and tear.
Used where premium finishes, feel, and feel are important.
Examples: conference rooms, luxurious home interiors, walls, etc.
Final Thought on laminate or veneer:
Choosing between laminate or veneer comes down to natural beauty and variation versus durability and uniformity. Consider which of these benefits are most important to you when making decisions.
Which one do you like to laminate or veneer and why? Write your comments below.