A Guide to Solid Wood Furniture
Have you ever taken the time and effort to shop for furniture, selected a piece and thought for certain you were getting a great deal because it was labeled solid wood? However, upon closer inspection you realized the beautiful piece you carefully selected was not actually solid wood.
Often, it isn't until after the piece has been purchased that you realize what you have purchased is indeed not real solid wood. So the question arises, why is it labeled solid wood when it clearly isn't? The simple answer is because of cost. By marketing the fake wood as partial to solid wood construction, it affords the manufacturer the ability to use veneer and laminate coverings over cheaper engineered wood.
It isn't easy to always spot the difference between real or fake wood furniture, especially online. This deliberate choice by the furniture makers allows them the ability to acquire a higher price for what is essentially a cheaply made product. In contrast, solid wood furniture will hold up better, is worth the money you pay for it and is able to be customized. So, how do you know if furniture is solid wood or not? Continue reading our guide below to learn more about solid wood and its advantages, along with how to care for it and where to find it.
Fake Furniture: Knowing What to Look For
In order for you to know what you are looking for when shopping for solid wood furniture, you must first know what it isn't. There are two types of fake wood furniture, and they are laminate and veneer. In both laminate and veneer, a solid wood appearance is adhered to less expensive pieces of engineered wood.
What sets the two apart is the following:
Laminate is a synthetic material made to look like solid wood. This type of furniture is usually easy to spot. It will sometimes have a shiny or plastic, artificial appearance. Some have a matte finish, which can be harder to detect. Laminate naturally resists moisture, and is easily damaged. With furniture being sold online, it is difficult to spot the difference, especially if the description is not very forthcoming. Over time, laminate will chip and fall off as the piece experiences use and wear.
Veneer, unlike laminate, is quite deceiving. It will actually pass for solid wood because it is technically thin sheets of solid wood which is then glued to engineered wood. However, veneers are only so thick. Veneered furniture is often labeled solid wood because some solid wood was actually used in its construction. This type of furniture can be sanded or stained, but only so many times before you reach the fiber board underneath.
Generally, veneer is not used to cover the underneath or the insides of furniture. Because of this, it's easy to do a little detective work by looking underneath and around the piece. Above we have mentioned the term engineered wood. You may be wondering what is it, and how you can spot it.
Engineered wood comes in three types:
- Medium-Density Fiberboard, also called MDF
- Oriented Strand Board, also called OSB
All of the above have distinct appearances. Plywood is several thin sheets of softwood, like pine, glued together to make it strong. It is mostly used for residential construction purposes. MDF is without grain, and is light brown or beige. This type of engineered wood is very dense and is made up of tiny fibers of wood and glue. It is commonly used in fake furniture making.
As for the OSB, it is very noticeable with its medium to large splintered wood chip and glue appearance. None of the above is pleasing to the eye, therefore laminate and veneer are used to cover it up. All types of engineered wood are prone to absorbing moisture and then expanding and separating.
Fake wood furniture does not last, which may leave you wondering why it's even made. The reason is because it's great for young kids, college dorms, temporary moves and for anyone who doesn't stay in one place for very long. Who fake furniture isn't for, is renters or homeowners who are decorating for themselves or their family to enjoy for years to come.
Solid Wood Furniture: Material and Advantages
Now that we know what solid wood isn't, let's learn about what it is. Solid wood furniture is a long-lasting, sustainable material that has been used in furniture making for a very long time. When you look at solid wood, you will notice imperfections like knots, grain patterns and each tree offering up its own rich coloring, especially when stained. All wood is classified as either a soft or hardwood, with hardwoods are the preferred choice in furniture construction.
Hardwood: Angiosperm trees (flowering plants)/Oak, Maple, or Walnut.
Softwood: Gymnosperm trees (evergreen conifers)/Pines or Spruce.
Hardwood vs Softwood
Hardwood's pore structure makes it dense and more resistant to fire, whereas softwood has linear tubes taking away from its thickness and durability. Softwoods are less expensive than hardwoods, therefore making up about 80% of all building timber.
Hardwoods are more expensive, and can be a challenge to work with due to their denseness. However, their density as well as other advantages, is what makes hardwood desirable for high-end furniture, flooring and more.
Advantages of Hardwood
From repairing scratches and dents to refinishing and durability, hardwood has several advantages. Below, we have listed out all the advantages of solid wood furniture.
- Natural beauty
- Easy maintenance and repair
- Various refinishing options
- Can be custom made
- Strong and durable
- Has a long-lasting value
Disadvantages of Hardwood
It would not be fair to tell you only about the advantages of solid wood furniture. There are a few disadvantages to owning solid wood furniture. We noted above that if you have a tendency to move or are just starting out and concerned about affordability, then solid wood furniture may not be for you. Some disadvantages to solid wood furniture are:
- Heavy to move
- More costly
- Requires additional care
Another disadvantage to solid wood furniture is moisture. If the piece has not been properly finished and sealed, water can leak into the wood and cause mold.
Temperature can also be a problem for solid wood pieces. Drastic changes in temperature, as well as humidity, will cause solid wood to warp. This is especially important with real wood furniture for outdoor dining and living. In regards to the above about additional care, continue reading further to learn about how to take care of solid wood furniture.
Solid Wood Furniture Care
Whether it's a table and chairs in your dining room or a bedroom suit, solid wood furniture will need care. With all the money and time that you put into selecting the perfect piece or pieces, it's important to maintain them. There are several factors to consider in your care and we will go into detail about each of them below.
Depending on the finish of your furniture piece, you will need to wipe it down with a soft cloth that is damp with mild soap. It is important to remove standing water or substances immediately. You will want to dust often, and when doing so, follow the grain pattern of the wood. When dusting, do not rub, you may lose the shine of your finish. Also, do not use any abrasive materials. As for polishing, only use those without any type of silicone or wax.
To help with cleaning and care of your real wood furniture, particularly dining room tables, protect their surfaces with tablecloths, placemats or coasters. This will keep them safe from scratches, heat and condensation. Other things to keep in mind to protect surfaces are:
- Keep items away that can stain the surfaces: markers, fruit, etc.
- Be mindful of writing on the surfaces, as it will leave impressions behind
- Avoid using paints, nail polish, etc. on surfaces
Humidity and Heat
Furniture made out of solid wood should be kept in a room with a humidity at 35 to 45%. For tables that have leaves, store them close by if possible, so as to prevent expansion and possibly not fitting.
In regards to heat, keep your furniture out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat like heating vents. Also, refrain from placing hot items on surfaces without protection underneath. Bedroom furniture placement should be thought out, so as not to be in front of windows or by heat registers on the floor.
Where to Find Solid Wood Furniture
From detecting fake wood to solid wood advantages and care, we feel it is only fitting we tell you where to find solid wood furniture. There is a strong tradition in America of furniture craftsmanship, and it is found in the Amish community. The Amish use locally sourced materials and utilize their skills in handcrafting beautiful furniture made from solid wood. From its attractive appearance to its long lasting and durability, Amish furniture is a popular solid wood option.
The tradition and history of this type of furniture spans back to the 1920s. From that time forward, a variety styles emerged from the community, and despite the style variations, all styles have a few things in common and they are:
- Craftsmanship, often with hand tools
- Unique aesthetic
Before purchasing Amish furniture, you need to ask a couple of questions. By asking the following two questions you can learn more about the furniture's authenticity and how it was made.
1. ASK IF IT IS AUTHENTIC
When buying Amish furniture, it is important to know if it is authentic. Unfortunately, we live in an age where furniture is made carrying the name, yet it is not. As you shop around in person or online, look for keywords like "Amish style" or "made like the Amish". So how do you identify whether a piece is or isn't authentic. First, you need to ask what community they work with, as well as what kind of construction techniques are used. Do they use hand tools, or was electricity involved? The Amish use time tested, simple methods to craft beautiful pieces of furniture. If the place you are purchasing from mentions anything advanced, or they are not forthcoming about the community they work with, then it is most likely not authentic.
2. ASK WHAT TYPE OF FURNITURE IT IS
There are two types of Amish furniture that you will find in the marketplace and those are Mission and Shaker:
Mission: Mission furniture is generally more ornate, and has slats.
Shaker: Simplistic in nature and has clean lines.
Understanding how it was made and if it is authentic, will help to justify the pricing. Pricing of this type of furniture is on the high-end, and often leaves buyers confused. As this guide has explained, from the use of hardwood to the craftsmanship, Amish furniture is expensive because you are buying a piece that is durable and timeless. The sheer amount of labor that is involved in producing quality Amish furniture is astounding.
Countless hours go into developing skills, especially for those who do not build with electricity. Most often, pieces are cut, sanded, crafted and assembled by hand. The craftsman seek quality in every step of their process from the first cut to the final finish. When you invest in Amish furniture, you get a beautiful and functional piece that will last for generations.
The Benefits of Buying from AmishTables.com
We create furniture for anyone looking for furniture that will be beautiful, functional, and durable. Whether you are a family of one or many, AmishTables stands out above others for an array of reasons.
AmishTables will create exactly the piece that you have envisioned. Our quality furniture is made by the Amish communities in Indiana, and can be tailored to fit your needs. From wood type and stain to fine details such as upholstery and techniques, our furniture is American-made and handcrafted.
We offer a variety of wood species such as:
- Oak, White Oak (Quarter and Rustic Sawn)
- Maple: Brown, Wormy and Hard
- Cherry and Rustic Cherry
- Hickory and Rustic Hickory
To note, not all wood species are available for certain pieces of furniture because it varies by builder. Because we are an online retailer, we encourage you to ask for samples to see the finishes we provide. Our samples are free and ship free. Custom stained samples can also be done for you, starting at $5.
In regards to fabrics for upholstery, we source our fabric from Heartland Fabrics and Greenhouse Fabrics. You may also submit your own fabric to create a very special piece that is uniquely yours. If you need upholstery samples, feel free to contact us to receive some. We also offer stain-protected fabrics from Crypton and Revolution.
Shipping and Delivery
AmishTables ships quality furniture nationwide as well as internationally. We offer flat rate shipping, Curbside or Inside, through our team of independent shippers in the U.S. Orders are generally ready to ship in 8 weeks after you place your order. You will be contacted by the shippers, who will ensure delivery of your furniture. Furniture is wrapped in moving blankets and placed in padded trailers so that it arrives in excellent condition.
If you choose inside delivery, you will have two delivery persons from a company that specializes in home deliveries. The delivery truck utilizes a ramp or lift-gate to properly access and remove the furniture. The two-person team will carry the furniture to the rooms requested, and then assemble. If you choose to assemble your furniture, assembly instructions will be included. If you should have any questions about assembly, you can always contact us. All packaging materials will be removed after delivery.
To learn more, feel free to visit our Delivery and Returns section.
From personalization to quality, crafted beauty, and impeccable delivery, American made furniture from AmishTables will last you and your family for generations. We hope the above guide has helped you learn more about real wood and all of the benefits it offers to the furniture-making process and to you. And remember, fake wood furniture has a purpose for those who need something temporary, lightweight, and affordable. If you only expect to use it for a few years and intend to replace it, then fake wood furniture is what you need.
We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions about the pieces we offer. We are available online via email and chat, as well as by phone.