For the last few decades, we’ve lived in an increasingly throw-away society, replacing whole items when a small part breaks or buying cheap, short-lived products and discarding them when they get damaged. This has, unfortunately, had its toll on our world and more and more people are beginning to realize this and embrace the old habits of buying quality products that last a lifetime or longer – and nothing says “lasts a lifetime” quite like a large solid wood dining table.
For us at Amish Tables, there’s something special about the knowledge that our solid wood dining sets leave our warehouse and end up in homes where they will be cherished and used for generations to come. Choosing solid wood dining room furniture means a commitment, selecting furniture that will be with you for decades, so it helps to make an informed decision. That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate guide to solid wood dining room tables, to help you make the right choice.
Veneer vs solid wood
Why choose a solid wood dining table and chairs, anyway? Surely there are perfectly good quality pieces that are veneered instead? Let’s take a look at the difference between the two.
Veneer – On the plus side, these tables are usually somewhat lighter, and also somewhat cheaper, than solid dining room furniture. However, because they are generally made with pressed wood, superwood or even hollow-core, they are intrinsically shorter-lived. They may, if well looked-after, last for ten or even twenty years, but they are very susceptible to temperature and humidity fluctuations. They may be easier to move around, thanks to being lighter, but they are also structurally weaker and significantly easier to damage or even break.
Solid wood – While the initial outlay may be slightly higher, a well-taken-care-of solid wood dining table is going to last for decades, or even hundreds of years – they could easily become a family heirloom, a great-great-grandchild’s prized antique family possession. The reason for this is that solid wood that is not exposed to harsh elements and is cared for doesn’t rot or disintegrate; it just becomes harder – and more beautiful – with age. Another plus for solid wood dining tables and chairs is that, if they do become damaged, scratched or dinged, they are significantly easier to repair and refinish than a pressed wood or composite piece of furniture.
Choosing the right wood
All our Amish solid wood dining tables are made with hardwoods and you can check out our selection, as well as various guides on how to choose the perfect wood for your table, right here. There are a few factors to take into consideration when choosing the wood for your dining set:
Color – Many hardwoods tend to darken as they age, but not all of them do. Do your research on how each type of wood changes over time, because you need to be happy with what it will look like in ten, twenty and fifty years, not just what it looks like now.
Stains – Whichever wood you choose, you can radically alter its appearance by choosing the right stain. But why would you choose to take a pale oak and make it the color of ebony – why not simply choose a dark wood? Well, each wood also has unique grain patterns, density and hardness, and while you may prefer a certain color, you may also prefer the qualities of a particular piece of wood. Before making a final decision, we strongly recommend getting samples to make sure you are happy with the final result.
Natural appearance – As we mentioned in the section on stains, each type of wood has its own unique appearance. Some have finer, less visible grains, while others have more prominent loops and swirls, and others are known for their knots. Choose a look that appeals to you and enhance it with a suitable stain or finish.
Hardness – Don’t be fooled by the name hardwood; even hardwoods can come in varying degrees of hardness, and you should take this into consideration when choosing the wood for your set. The harder and denser the wood, the longer it will last, but the more difficult it is to work. We’ve written a guide before on how to choose just the right wood for your furniture, which you can read here, or you can read up about the finer details of our various woods here.