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TIPS ON BUYING QUALITY WOOD FURNITURE

At La Galerie Danoise, we’ve been selecting, selling and repairing wood furniture for over 40 years, and we’ve seen it all. There are many types of wood furniture, varying from the kind of wood used, to the method of construction and the craftsmanship of design. All this variation can be confusing, but our experts are here to shed some light on these differences and how they can affect price and quality.

 Whether you are looking to buy solid or veneer wood furniture, there are some universal indicators of quality. For example, a high-end piece of furniture will seamlessly integrate any hardware, will not buckle under a moderate amount of weight, will not have any visible glue or nails, and will have drawers and doors that open and close with ease. Questions to ask yourself when shopping for wood furniture include:

  • Is it real wood or laminate?
  • Are the edges and legs solid?
  • Where was it produced and assembled?
  • Does it seem stable if you lean on it?
  • Do the doors and drawers open and close easily?
  • Is it backed by a warranty?
  • Is there any peeling or visible glue?


Shopping for Solid Wood?

Solid wood furniture is not always quality furniture.

When shopping for wood furniture, you can’t expect quality simply by opting for solid wood, especially when an item is being offered at a suspiciously low price. A surprising amount of solid wood furniture sold today is actually very poorly made, resulting in early cracks, dents and other damages.

The key to buying solid wood furniture is to make sure it is made out of hardwood like teak, walnut and cherrywood, rather than softwood like pine and cedar. Hardwood is usually more expensive than softwood, but that’s because it does not chip or dent easily, which not only means it’s likely to last longer, but also that it provides a more solid grasp for hardware and a better canvas for craftsmen to carve and detail.

All solid wood furniture is susceptible to splitting, cracking and warping due to indoor temperature changes. The way in which the wood is dried and treated after harvesting will determine its resilience against future wear. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine quality simply by examining solid wood furniture prior to purchasing it, so it’s important to buy from a reputable establishment and inquire about the manufacturer’s details when possible. As a general rule, bargain prices for solid wood furniture should always be questioned.

 

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     When buying solid wood furniture:

  • Opt for hardwood like teak, walnut and cherrywood, instead of softwood like pine and cedar.
  • Buy from a reputable establishment and inquire about manufacturer’s details.
  • Be wary of bargain prices.



Real Wood Veneer - A Smart Choice

Real wood veneer furniture can be better quality than solid wood.

Veneer has a false reputation of being inferior to solid wood, mostly because it is commonly mistaken for laminate veneer, which has flooded the market in the form of cheap furniture imports. Laminate is wood imitation, produced by imprinting a wood ‘reproduction’ on a thin substrate. If the veneer appears too perfect and smooth, it is most likely laminate. By contrast, real wood veneer has natural knots, nicks and pores that are clearly visible.

Real wood veneer refers to strips of wood ranging in thickness from paper thin to 5-6mm that, typically, are glued onto a core made, usually, of solid wood, medium density fiberboard or particle board to produce flat panels for furniture construction. For more information on veneer, please visit our Veneer Explained page.

Like solid wood furniture, veneer furniture comes in low- and high-grade quality. Here are a few things to look for in high-quality veneer furniture. A well-made piece of veneer furniture incorporates some solid wood in its construction to maximize durability and strength. The core, legs, doors and/or drawer fronts will be made of solid wood, and the edges will be covered with solid strips of wood to prevent peeling. Furniture made with quality wood veneer that has been applied to a strong core is often mistaken for solid wood. By contrast, a thin veneer glued onto a cheap core looks and feels like laminate and is quite distinguishable from solid wood. Once again, price is usually a good indicator of quality; well-made veneer furniture is often pricier than some solid wood furniture, but your investment will be well worth it.

When buying veneer furniture:

  • Look for natural knots, nicks and pores to distinguish real wood veneer from laminate.
  • Ensure that the piece incorporates some solid wood, e.g. solid wood core, legs, doors, etc.
  • A thicker veneer applied to a more solid core will resemble solid wood and indicates better quality.
  • Price is usually a good indicator of quality.
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