A good description I found from the people of
When describing the furniture from our shop on our website, we try to remember to tell you, if we can, about the kind of wood that was used to make the piece, as well as a bit of information about the finish. We are often asked whether a particular piece is made with veneer, laminate, or if it is solid wood, and we have found that there are often misconceptions about the differences. Today, we will try to help to define and explain the practical applications of the three.
Solid Wood is, well, solid wood. Furniture made with solid wood can be sanded, stained, varnished, treated and painted. Some woods are soft and show wear, such as worn corners and edges, after many years of use. Others are called hardwoods and have a more durable lifespan. Here in our store, we love the look of solid wood pieces, often finding them as rustic, farm style tables, bookshelves and cabinets.
Veneer is technically a thin layer of hardwood, usually thinner than 1/8 of an inch. Typically, veneer is bonded, or glued with adhesive, to a cheaper surface that is hidden below. A less expensive wood or particle board can often be found underneath. This practice allows furniture makers to design and build beautiful pieces at a lower cost. Veneer can be sanded along the grain, painted and stained because it is real wood. When working with it though, you must be very careful not to overdo it, remembering that the layer is very thin and can quickly be worn down with a power sander.
Laminate is made with synthetic materials or very thinly sliced pieces of wood. In some cases, it is made to look like wood grain by using a method that is similar to printing. Laminate typically has a shiny finish and is known for being used in low-end furniture and pieces that need very durable surfaces. Of course, laminate is much cheaper than solid wood or veneer to produce and use.