How to Tell If Furniture is Laminate or Veneer?

How to Tell If Furniture is Laminate or Veneer?

It is challenging to differentiate between laminate and veneer furniture as physical appearance, quality, and grain pattern need to be carefully observed to identify differences.

How to Tell If Furniture is Laminate or Veneer? You can tell if the furniture is laminate or Veneer by looking at the grain pattern, color, and texture, as laminate has unlimited designs or colors and a smooth surface, but it has no natural wood grain pattern. In addition, Veneer is eco-friendly and expensive but not resistant to scratches, chipping, and moisture. It has a timber aroma, matte finish, and high maintenance cost.

The quality of laminate furniture is lower than Veneer as it is made of synthetic materials, but it has good stiffness and high durability that make it suitable for use in the furniture industry.

However, many people prefer veneer furniture due to its eco-friendly nature and sustainability, as synthetic plastic materials usually end up in landfills.

Difference between laminate and veneer furniture

Features Laminate furniture Veneer furniture
Appearance Smooth Rough
Sheet thickness 0.3 to 0.7 mm 0.8 to 1.9 mm
Colors and designs Unlimited Limited
Durability 18 to 25 years 8 to 10 years
Grain Artificially painted Natural wood grain
Affordability Cheap Expensive
Cleaning and maintenance Less More
Finishing Shiny Matte
Quality Low High
Toxic Yes No
Eco-friendly  No Yes

Physical appearance

It is easy to look at the furniture and examine its color, texture, and pattern to check the type of wood.

You can quickly learn about wood if you have a keen interest in furniture, but an amateur person will take time and need help in the assessment.

Additionally, the laminate furniture has a non-porous and smooth surface that can be checked by gently moving your hand against the tabletop.

It has smooth edges as it is designed to be perfect for use in furniture industries, and the uppermost surface is usually printed or painted to give it a natural or wood-like finish.

In contrast, the edges of veneer wood are rough due to its porous nature, giving it a natural texture and appearance. However, it is an all-wood piece and appears the same from the inside out.

Furthermore, their level of thickness can help make the difference as Veneer sheets are thinner, having 0.3 to 0.7mm thickness, while laminate sheets are around 0.8 to 19mm thick.

Availability of color and design variety

You can find multiple options in man-made products compared to natural ones as they have limited colors and designs that are only naturally available.

Laminate furniture provides an expansive collection of home furnishing in different designs and colors and allows you to choose desired one.

Veneer has a limited collection, and you have to find a suitable product from only a few items, which can lead to compromises while making decisions.

However, you do not have to compromise on the material’s quality and sustainability when getting a natural product.


Some wood types have longer lifespans than others, depending on their resistance to environmental stresses, internal density, hardness, and stiffness.

You can determine the material’s durability by determining its solidity level, as the strength of artificial wood or plastic is better than natural wood as it is prepared to be a perfect material.

The Veneer lasts for 8 to 12 years and gets damaged quickly when exposed to water and heat. In addition, it can easily get scratched and chipped after a few years due to decreased stiffness.

The synthetic laminate will last for almost 18 to 25 years due to better resistance against water, scratches, and chipping.

Furthermore, it can be easily repaired by staining or waxing after scratches, but you cannot fix the damage to the laminate as it has a sealed surface.

Presence of grain

Every wood type has a different grain pattern and density that helps identify laminate and Veneer. You have to look at chipped areas to know whether the grains are present there.

The laminate surfaces are artificially printed to make them look like natural wood, so you will not find grains in the chipped areas, unlike natural wood material.

Moreover, the growth rings are present in veneer sheets with a repeating grain pattern. You can also look at the grain pattern underside of the furniture to different real and man-made wood.

The synthetic material is smooth on both sides as it has the same pattern on the top and bottom sides, while the Veneer has a wood grain pattern on the top while the underside is different.


The price tags on products can help identify the type of furniture, as a few wood types are cheaper than others, depending on the quality.

Laminate is an artificially made product using resin and paper, unlike Veneer, which is made of natural timber after cutting thin layers from the trunk region.

Natural wood needs time to grow and process, but there is no restriction on the production of laminate as factories control its manufacturing process.

Easier available products usually have low costs than others that are rarely available, like Veneer wood made from walnut, maple, cherry, and oak wood types.

Oak and walnut wood veneer sheets are available at $130 to $440, while maple and cherry veneers will cost you almost $75 to $465.

However, you can get a 10-feet laminate sheet for almost $40 to $80, which means it is a less expensive option than other natural materials like solid wood.

Cleaning or maintenance

Laminate wood is easier to clean as it has a smooth and shiny surface that needs to be wiped off with a clean cloth and a soapy solution to remove dust and debris.

You can regularly clean the surface with a dry cloth to ensure longevity and avoid using a wet cloth.

Regular contact of the surface with moist cloth can pose a risk of warping and even leave marks behind on the surface.

Moreover, the maintenance cost of veneer furniture is higher as it is made of natural wood material requiring frequent cleaning and application of sealants and wood oils to avoid damage.

Furthermore, it is not suitable for use in high foot traffic areas as it becomes prone to scratches and dents, leading to costly repairs and reduced lifespan.


The finishing of wood surfaces tells about natural and man-made products, as laminate has a shinier and smooth surface.

Moreover, there are a variety of colors available in stains and paints to finish its surface that gives a glossy appearance.

It requires priming of the surface before applying any paint or stain.

In contrast, you will find limited finishing options for veneer surfaces giving a matte finish. In addition, it is easier to sand these surfaces as the grain is equally spread in all directions.

You can apply desired stains and paints on this high-quality wood after sanding the surface to make it aesthetically appealing.

Ask a professional

It is better to ask professionals when you are interested in knowing the difference between furniture types. No one can guide you better than the salesperson in the store.

They are well-experienced as they deal with a variety of products and know every detail to help shoppers make decisions according to their requirements.

Salespersons can easily differentiate these two types by smelling material, as natural wood has a dominant scent or aroma of timber that is not possessed by synthetic materials.

Related Articles:

Why Is Rubberwood Good For Furniture?

Should Curtains and Bedding Match?