Laminate and veneer are experiencing an increase in popularity. With their flexibility, versatility, and their ability to gel in with any design scheme, laminates and veneers prove to be a cost-effective alternative to wood, and an environment-friendly practice.
For the same amount required to build a piece of furniture, laminates, as well as veneers, use less amount of wood than used in furniture made with solid wood.
What is the difference between laminates and veneers?
By definition, laminate is a printed surface made to look like real wood, but usually made of plastic and bonded to a composite base.
Whereas, the veneer is a thin layer of real hardwood applied to a less expensive material such as plywood.
Moreover, with the significant transition in the designing and decoration of interiors, people have started opting for more functional interiors, preferring them over excessively intricate details. This is where laminates and veneers are preferred over solid timber.
In this article, we will look at the application areas and other aspects of laminates and veneers in comparison to each other as well as in comparison to solid wood.
Therefore, it will touch upon the following aspects:-
a) Types of laminates
b) Door laminates
c) Floor laminates
a) Types of veneers
b) Veneer flooring
c) Veneer wardrobes
d) Veneer furniture
e) Veneer wall
f) Veneer doors
3. Top laminates (and veneers) brands
4. Laminate vs Veneer: Comparison chart
A synthetic material that mimics the appearance of real wood, laminates are commonly used in both commercial and residential settings.
Image Source: ZAD Interiors
On the basis of thickness
i) Laminate Sheets
Regular laminates are far thinner, with a maximum thickness of 1.5 mm. As regular laminate sheets are thin, they are typically glued to the base of the substrate material.
This is meant to increase stability and strength.
One of the most commonly used substrates is plywood.
ii) Compact Laminates
The thickness of compact laminates, on the other hand, can be up to 30 mm.
They are strong enough to stand on their own. Therefore, they do not need to be glued to wood or other materials.
This makes compact laminates an ideal protective layer for most surfaces.
Additionally, some compact laminates also have decorative designs covering their top and bottom surfaces.
On the basis of pressure
i) Low-pressure laminates
These are made up of laminated paper that is bonded to a particle or fibreboard. The bonding process is done through a low-pressure mechanism.
ii) High-pressure laminates
High-pressure laminates, on the other hand, bond under high pressure, which makes them exceptionally durable.
Hence, for those looking for the most resistant laminate solution for projects that require more stability, high-pressure laminates are the best choice.
On the basis of finish
i) Matte-finish laminates
One of the most commonly used laminate surfaces, matte-finish laminate, has a flat and moderately reflective surface.
The matte coating makes the surface not only easy to clean but also, scratch and dust resistant.
Therefore, these laminates are suitable for office furniture offering a sleek, subtle yet stylish look.
ii) High gloss laminates
Having a highly reflective surface, gloss-finish laminates are an eye-catcher. Additionally, the mirror-like sheen is their distinguishing property that gives this laminate type a premium look.
However, high gloss laminates tend to show smudge marks easily.
iii) Textured laminates
These types of laminates amplify the look of various natural surfaces like leather, suede, stone, etc.
Although textured laminate adds depth and character to space, it is difficult to maintain and clean.
iv) PVC laminates
As Polyvinyl Chloride laminates are moisture-resistant, they are highly suitable for wet application areas such as the kitchen and bathrooms.
Despite having excellent durability, PVC laminates give a plastic-like look.
v) Metallic laminates
To add a luxurious, sophisticated, and modern look to your house, go for the metallic laminates. Moreover, they add a metal-like sheen to the surface and are available in a wide variety of colors.
vi) Acrylic Laminates
Made of polymer fiber, acrylic laminates fall under the high-end category and are an extremely durable option.
Also, it provides a glossy finish to the surface which is highly reflective and automatically enhances the aesthetics of your interior.
Glass laminated is made by gluing together two or more pieces of a glass sheet. The bonding of glass laminates is done under high heat and pressure.
Therefore, it is more brittle and lighter than real glass. It is a fantastic alternative to ordinary glass.
Moreover, being scratch-resistant makes glass laminates easy to work with.
On the basis of advanced properties
- Electrostatic dissipative laminates
- Mark or chalkboard
- Outdoor/UV laminates
- Digital laminates
From commercial to residential applications, there is no dearth of where one may use different laminate designs.
Some of the various application areas of laminates are listed below:-
Considered ideal for most surfacing applications, standard laminates are used in normal applications such as the manufacture of doors.
Laminates not only offer high functionality but also enhance the looks.
Image Source: Doors of Distinction ltd
Laminates for doors a great idea since they are easy to maintain and possess stain, scratch-resistant qualities.
Image Source: Pinterest
Laminates are available in myriad colors. Therefore, it is correct to say that everyone can easily find a color and texture that appeals to them.
Additionally, this design has the potential to amplify the entire space.
Flooring laminates give you the freedom to enjoy a faux wood floor without its actual use construction. Therefore, it is a more environment-friendly option.
It is an excellent option for anyone who is looking for a durable floor but for a fraction of the price.
Floor laminates design #1
Image Source: The English Print Co
A flooring laminate design that combines modern, beautiful design and long-lasting durability like no other.
Floor laminates design #2
Image Source: UK Flooring Direct
Floor laminates are easy to maintain as they don’t require any waxes, polishes, detergents, or abrasive cleaner.
Moreover, the warmth brought in by the wood texture and color, adds a streak of positivity in the environment.
For wardrobes and other indoor objects, decorative laminates are popularly used.
Not only do they improve the appeal of pieces but also give them a great amount of protection from damage.
Image Source: LaOrigin
This wardrobe with a loft blends perfectly with the toned-down beige on the walls. The concealed lights are symbolic of energy and a trendy twist.
Wardrobe laminates design #2
Image Source: diotti
This dark-colored laminate on a sliding wardrobe with grooves is the perfect choice for your bedroom.
Also, the modern linear look in texture and matte finish is ultra-stylish and a statement-making element of your interior space.
Although all-white and wood cabinet kitchens do not seem to lose their charm, kitchen laminates are embraced with great enthusiasm by the homeowners today.
You just can’t go wrong with laminates in the kitchen since they are waterproof and low maintenance.
Kitchen laminates design #1
Image Source: Pexels
The properties of the laminate are so compatible, that they can perfectly match every room in the home or commercial space.
Moreover, laminates can even be placed in the kitchen due to their waterproof feature.
Kitchen laminates design #2
Image Source: RTA Cabinet Store
This dark-colored laminate for the kitchen will surely please even those picky people. Moreover, the presence of resin makes the material moisture resistant and sturdier.
Grey is definitely the new black this year!
Veneer refers to treated thin slices of wood obtained from trees and further categorized as sliced or rotary-cut veneers (according to the cut). Being actual wood slices, veneers impart a warm and natural wooden look to the surfaces.
Image Source: oakwoodveneer
The thickness of the veneers is important as it has a major role in determining their durability. More the thickness of the veneers better is the durability.
Also, during any kind of repair, it is the thickness that determines the limitations to which any damage can be fixed.
Different ranges of veneers in shades, colors, and textures (smoked and fumed veneers), are available in the markets today.
Veneers happen to be the most economical way to use timber and can be easily recycled too, to be used later.
They have oil-based finishes as well as water-based finishes and are a stupendous combination with lacquer finishes too. Being natural products, they last longer than laminates.
However, veneers require regular polishing according to the client’s taste to maintain their quality over time.
On the basis of wood type
- Rose heart
On the basis of cutting
- Rotary cut
- Flat cut
- Quarter natural cut
- Quarter rift-cut
Veneers offer several uses, such as:-
In most cases, veneers are considered to be the perfect fit for interior décor.
Therefore, since floors of the house take up the maximum amount of real space in the house, it is justified to say that veneer flooring can be an eye-catcher.
Veneer flooring design #1
Image Source: Shaw Floors
Using veneers for flooring as an alternative to solid wood helps reduce the cost incurred. Moreover, it is a way of adapting sustainability by using natural resources.
Veneer flooring design #2
Image Source: Floor & Decor
This veneer flooring adds warmth to the interior space and makes it more inviting.
Wood veneers offer high aesthetics to your interiors. These are complex components, which when executed in a proper manner, can raise the standard to a whole new level.
Incorporating veneer in your wardrobe designs as a surface finish can potentially add a sense of fine craftsmanship.
Veneer wardrobe designs #1
Image Source: Whitman Wilde Architects
This fitted walk-in wardrobe made out of walnut veneer is what dreams are made of. It is an edgy way to make a statement and grab everyone’s attention.
Veneer wardrobe designs #2
Image Source: Pinterest
Nothing compares to a classic, rustic-looking wood veneer wardrobe that offers the aesthetic value of actual wood.
Veneers prove to be a great bet in furniture where solid wood can’t be used due to its contraction and expansion caused by fluctuation of temperature and humidity.
Veneer furniture designs #1
Image Source: ArtsyHome
The distinctive looks and features of this side cabinet are given by walnut and zebra hardwood. This combination adds a stunning design factor to any space whatsoever.
Moreover, the lacquer finish and well-built design ensure functionality as well as beauty.
Veneer furniture designs #2
Image Source: France and Son
An antique sideboard with brass hardware is symbolic of fine craftsmanship and skills.
Also, it can transform the entire look and feel of your home.
e) Veneer wall
Used for furniture and paneling of all kinds, veneers standalone remain a great option for residences.
Today, the market also offers a range of veneers used for complete wall paneling.
Image Source: The Wood Veneer Hub
This beautifully designed wood strip decorative wall and ceiling panel is perfect for commercial, as well as domestic use.
Moreover, the high-quality panels offer acoustic properties to personify your modern styling needs.
Veneer wall panelling #2
Image Source: Pinterest
This veneer wall panelling will add depth and character to your home with its strength and beauty.
f) Veneer doors
Created by laying high-quality timber veneers over both sides of the door as a surface finishing option, wood veneer doors give an impression of solid natural wood.
Moreover, veneer doors are a great option to conceal the edges without increasing the price tremendously.
Veneer stimulates the look and feel of the doors and also ensures a long life of the door due to its high durability.
Veneer door design #1
Image Source: Indigo Doors
The quality of any veneer door depends upon the type of wood used in its production.
Although a bit pricier due to its fine quality, this wood veneer door will surely please your eye and add a rich feel to your interiors in terms of grace and elegance.
Veneer door design #2
Image Source: CAL Prawdziwe Drzwi
Wood veneer doors are extra demanding when it comes to their care and maintenance as they require polishing from time to time.
However, this material, certainly, will pass the test of time looking glossy and put together.
There are various companies engaged in the manufacturing and selling of laminates. Having a difference in models, qualities, and pricing structures, here are the top 6 veneer and laminate brands in India:-
Merino Laminates is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of decorative laminate sheets and boards. The company has an extensive range of premium quality products.
India’s most premium laminate brand, Royale Touche, offers a wide range of designs and impeccable quality products.
Moreover, the company is recognized to abide by the rule of, “Ever-changing designs and never-changing quality”.
Among the leaders in the laminate market of India, Centuryply is certainly the best. Century Ply manufactures different grades of plywood, decorative laminates, wood veneers, particle boards, etc.
Among the leading laminate manufacturers, Signature Laminate produces some of the most stunning colors, designs, and sustainable laminates.
Moreover, their products include decorative laminates, post-forming laminates, chalk and marker board laminates, fire retardant panels, etc.
This company has recently gained popularity in the decorative laminates market. Additionally, it works towards producing and delivering the best for its customers.
4. Laminate vs Veneer: Comparison Chart
|Surface Finish||Artificial plastic-like finish||Natural wood-like finish|
|Maintenance||Requires minimal to no maintenance||Require polishing from time to time to maintain luster|
|Cost||Factory-manufactured and hence, comparatively cheaper||More expensive due to high production cost|
|Presence of VOCs||Can be toxic due to the presence of polymers and resin||Devoid of VOCs|
|Color Availability||Color and surface finish remains unaltered||Processed and stained to achieve various colors|
|Impact on Environment||Contain plastics that are toxic and damaging||Made from a renewable resource, therefore, environment friendly|
|Moisture Resistance||Waterproof up to a certain extent||Not resistant to water unless coated in melamine|
|Scratch Resistance||Resistant to scratch and abrasion due to hard surface||Not resistant to scratches and abrasion|
Therefore, if you are looking for natural material and a classic look that adds warmth to your interiors, a veneer finish is ideal for you. On the other hand, laminates are an ideal choice for modern and colorful interiors that are easy to maintain.
Veneers and laminates, two of the most popular materials in the furniture category nowadays, have the capability to enhance the looks and functionality of plywood or other wooden furniture.
Both these materials fit in as surface finishes in your interior space.
So, which one is better?
Well, the answer to that question depends on your personal preference and requirements. In the end, it all comes down to modern vs classic and durability vs versatility.
As construction and architecture industry professionals, it is important to know the meaning, applications, types, uses, and the basic difference between laminates and veneers. Moreover, this helps in making a much more informed and justified choice while working on a project.
Since laminates are artificial materials manufactured by pressing together thin layers of paper and plastic resins, their decorative pattern and color account for the upper layer of the finished product.
On the contrary, veneers are technically a thin layer of hardwood that is bonded with the help of an adhesive, to a surface hidden below.
Therefore, it is fair to say that every brown-colored piece of furniture is not made of actual wood!
Over the years, engineered wood types have gained tremendous popularity and are highly demanded wooden formats across the world.
So, next time you come across wooden sheets or planks, try to remember the points mentioned above and differentiate to know whether it is solid wood, softwood, or engineered wood.
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