Veneer vs. Laminate? Tips on how to select the material for your Office Furniture

Making final decisions on office furniture can be a difficult task, there are many areas to consider when selecting product and layouts. Functionality, durability, and aesthetics are three of the main areas to focus on, companies will be investing in the furniture for years to come.

One of the never ending questions we hear on a day to day basis in our showroom and from our clients is:    “Is this a solid wood desk?”    To be honest, in this day in time, there really aren’t many “solid wood” desks any more. Unless you go to a specialty shop and spend a large amount of money, you will not have a “solid wood” desk.   Everything now is either wood veneer or laminate.  I know you are thinking, quality is gone and durability is gone.  That is not true, now everything is engineered to look like the real thing, but lasts so much longer.

Solid wood material is actually much more prone to warping and cracking than veneered wood. The care for solid wood is more extensive and normally people do not have time or care to go through the full process of properly cleaning and maintaining the wood desks.

Laminate may be one of the most functional, long lasting materials found in commercial design, but few people have a full understanding of what laminate actually is.  What are the differences in wood veneer and laminate?

Laminate Desk

Laminate Desk

What is Laminate?

Laminates are printed surfaces that can be made to look like wood or solid colors, reproduced on tough paper, plastic or foil, and bonded to a composite base. Most laminate office products will be in LPL (Low-pressure laminate) unless otherwise specified as HPL (High-pressured laminate).

LPLs have a very low initial cost, but shorter lifespan than the HPLs. They are also available in a limited number of designs and finishes. HPLs are rated for higher durability and quality – having specific uses.  HPLs are offered in multiple designs and finishes with a longer lifespan.

Overall laminates are harder surfaced, so they will be slightly more durable to the average everyday wear and tear.  If severely damaged, laminates most often cannot be refinished or retouched.


Wood Veneer Desk

Wood Veneer Desk

What is Veneer?

Wood veneers are thin slices of hardwood, bonded to a less expensive wood, like birch, or a  wood composite like plywood, particle board or medium density fiber board. There are marvelous things manufacturers can do with veneers, giving a beautiful appearance to furniture. Wood veneer is a softer surface material that can end up having scratches, water/heat marks, and basic wear and tear marks.  Depending upon their thickness, veneers can be sanded and refinished.

So the final question is, how to determine what to use?  Back to the three main areas to consider: Functionality, durability, and aesthetics.  Here are helpful bullets to help decide.

Veneer Offers:

  • “Executive” Look
  • Looks like solid wood, but more affordable
  • Higher quality and detail
  • Durable, but delicate – can scratch easily
  • Various finishes and edge details

Laminate Offers:

  • Best value for the price point
  • Maintenance free
  • Extremely Durable
  • Styles and finishes to choose from

With the amazing looks and textures that some laminates have now it is the perfect option for a company that is growing or may move as it is easy to add on to and move. For company that is more settled and ready to invest in the furniture for the long hall the veneer would be the best option.

Come check out our showroom or give us a call to see what would be best for you.  One of our team members would love to work on your project!