Why buy solid wood furniture

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31 Jul 2013

Wooden furniture has a sophistication that has stood the test of time and it stands proud in any home, whether contemporary or traditional.

If cared for correctly, wood can last for several decades and acquire value, and small knocks and bumps can add to the natural patina that develops over time, creating character and a more lived-in look.

There are numerous benefits of having genuine wood furniture.

Knock on wood

Anton Odendaalfrom Rochesterexplains that there are four main types of wooden furniture, each with pros and cons.

Wood veneer is a process where thin layers of real wood are glued onto the surface of an inferior surface, such as particleboard.

Paper veneer comprises sheets of real wood veneer that are applied to a paper backing in order to create a permanent bond that keeps the individual veneers together.

Melamine consists of particleboard that is covered in paper that’s been impregnated with melamine glue, and then pressed together creating a finished product.

Solid wood refers to solid natural timber that comes straight from a tree – it is simply cut into boards and crafted into various pieces of furniture.

Genuine wood has a great rating with regards to recycling as it is 100 percent recyclable and it won’t harm the environment in any way when discarded.

Manufactured wood versus solid wood

Furniture made from the first three types of 'wood' are commonly known as manufactured wood products and are regarded as lesser quality than solid wood. This is because they are more affordable to manufacture, often using wood waste product. This can be seen as a bonus as it’s an eco-friendly solution to an industry that tends to have quite a heavy carbon footprint.

“Wood veneered into thinner layers and put onto a manufactured board backing made of wood waste means that far fewer trees need to be cut down compared to furniture made using expensive solid timer,” says Odendaal, adding that the consumer has to pay less when buying a manufactured wood furniture item. Manufactured woods are often treated with chemicals to keep parasites away, and bonded with toxic adhesives, which Odendaal believesnegates the eco-friendly pros mentioned above.

He points out that wood is a sustainable and renewable resource if it is harvested from sustainably managed forests and mills. Forests help the earth sequestrate carbon and the farming of wood promotes forestation and timber economies. Lastly, genuine wood has a great rating with regards to recycling – it is 100 percent recyclable and it won’t harm the environment in any way when discarded.

While it may be tempting to spend less money on inferior quality furniture, solid wood furniture has numerous benefits over other types and homeowners should consider investing in a few good pieces.

While melamine is resistant to scratches, heat and discolouration, the veneer tends to succumb to the knocks and bumps. Repairs also tend to betricky. Odendaal says that because it’s inexpensive, it doesn’t matter if the kids or pets damage it, but it means that you could be writing off cheap furniture for replacements, which will end up being more costly in the long run. He believesthat pieces of furniture made from manufactured wood are the kind of “here today gone tomorrow” items – they serve a purpose, but they don’t compare to genuine wood furniture.

Manufactured wood furniture tends to look cheap as the designs rely on trends, which often appear outdated after a while. Solid wood furniture on the other hand is more desirable as it tends to be expensive, but you are guaranteed of quality craftsmanship. This, combined with the natural beauty inherent in wood guarantees a timeless beauty that won’t date.“All you need to do is to look at the furniture that has stood the test of time – those solid wood classics that still look great, even after decades."

If cared for correctly, wood can last for several decades and acquire value. Odendaal says thatsolid wood furniture will get knocks and bumps, but they add to the natural patina that develops over time, creating character and a more lived-in look. He also points out that, unlike manufactured wood, solid wood can be sanded, repainted, polished and lovingly restored to its former glory.

He believes wooden furniture is like comfort food for the home – warm and familiar: “What I love most is the honesty and integrity of furniture made with natural wood, as it adds real warmth to any home." Solid wood furniture offers durability, longevity and classic style that often outlives its owners.

While it may be tempting to spend less money on inferior quality furniture, but solid wood furniture has numerous benefits over other types, and Odendaal believes it’s something homeowners should consider investing in. Furniture pieces made from solid wood are often those that could one day become treasured heirlooms and get passed on to loved ones instead of being replaced.  

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