Choosing Wood For Your Furniture

Wood is the de-facto choice for furniture, especially furniture for home. Steel, plastic or aluminum furniture simply do not give the same appearance, feel or ambiance to homes the way wood furniture does. Before plywood or blockboard were invented, all furniture was made from solid wood. But the question still remains, what should you know about wood before you put down your hard earned money on furniture purchases? Read on, to find out.

Wood is the de-facto choice for furniture, especially furniture for home. Steel, plastic or aluminum furniture simply do not give the same appearance, feel or ambiance to homes the way wood furniture does. Before plywood or blockboard were invented, all furniture was made from solid wood.

But the question still remains, what should you know about wood before you put down your hard earned money on furniture purchases? Read on, to find out.

Solid woods

wood

Each variety of wood has its advantages. Walnut, teak, oak and mahogany are some of the hard woods. Pine and cedar are soft woods. The advantage of hard woods is that they are durable, pest resistant, have a close grain and can be polished to a high degree. Soft woods may not be insect resistant and are also not strong enough to take heavy loads for the same thickness. Solid wood furniture is expensive in comparison to furniture made from plywood or blockboard or particleboard. However, if made from seasoned, kiln dried wood and properly treated as well as finished, solid wood furniture is durable and can last a lifetime, even gaining in value with passage of time.

Plywood/Blockboard/Particleboard

table

Plywood, blockboard and particleboard are man made. Plywood is strong and more expensive compared to blockboard. Particle board is nothing but pieces of wood sandwiched between two layers of thin veneer. In time, the pieces of wood inside can shrink. Both plywood and particle board are vulnerable to warping and layers coming off if exposed to moisture.

What you should check when you set out to buy wood furniture.

Plywood and particle board furniture are majorly used in most homes. They display certain characteristics and before buying them, there are certain things that have to be kept in mind.

  • Furniture made from these materials is usually laminated with edges sealed. Better quality furniture may have polyurethane or melamine finish.
  • Check that the laminate is glued securely and edges are properly finished.
  • If coated with lacquer, check that the outsides have a flawless finish.
  • It is also important to check undersides and insides. These too should have some form of coating to prevent moisture and pest ingress.
  • Joints should be at perfect right angles with no visible gaps. Thickness of boards should be at least 19mm. Cheaper furnitures use 12 or 15 mm boards.
  • Good quality furniture is made from plywood. Particle board furniture is slightly lower down the scale both with regards to quality and price. With proper finishing, you will not notice the difference. Only time will show how durable they are.

Solid wood furniture:

  • If you can, verify that the solid wood furniture is made from wood that has been kiln dried and allowed to season for 6 months prior to being worked upon.
  • Solid wood must be treated with pest repellents to ensure long life.
  • Joints must be free of gaps.
  • Table tops and cupboards or cabinets using wooden planks must be closely examined to ensure that there is no gap between two planks and the appearance is seamless.
  • Check for knots. If wood has too many knots, it is second grade.
  • Check thickness of legs or walls or table tops. Thick planks have less chances of warping and can take loads better.

There is of course much more to know, but with these basic guidelines you can make informed decisions and a wise buy.

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by Sandesh Dhanraj, on December 9, 2015