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Is It Made From a Tree? A brief guide to wood furniture


When you are shopping for furniture like a curio cabinet or china cabinet, you want the best that you can afford. But when product information states that it's made of wood, what does that really mean? Here is a brief description of the most common types of materials used to make wood furniture.


Engineered Woods


Wood furniture constructed from composite materials is less expensive than furniture made from solid woods. It is also generally lighter and therefore cheaper to ship. For this reason, engineered woods have become an accepted alternative to more expensive real wood furnishings. The most popular construction material for ready-to-assemble products is medium density fiberboard or MDF. Here is a brief description of the most common types of materials used to make wood furniture.


Particle board


  • Also known as chip board
  • Wood fibers are glued together using heat and pressure
  • Formed into panels of recycled wood
  • These panesl are used to make furniture
  • Most affordable wood product on the market
  • Is not as durable as other types of engineered woods
  • Can fall apart if not finished with a laminate or mixed with MDF for added strength

Medium Density Fiberboard


  • Also known as MDF
  • Wood fibers are glued together using heat and pressure
  • Formed into panels of recycled wood
  • These panesl are used to make furniture
  • More affordable than solid wood; just as strong and durable
  • Denser, flatter and smoother than particle board
  • Easy to care for; doesn’t fade
  • Since it has no grain, it can be drilled, etc. without danger of marring the surface

Hardboard


  • Also known as High Density Fiberboard and Masonite
  • Made from wood fibers that have been highly compressed
  • Formed into panels of recycled wood
  • These panesl are used to make furniture; finish the backs of furniture pieces
  • More affordable than solid wood
  • Denser than medium density fiberboard
  • Doesn’t fade; has no grain

Laminates


  • Laminates generally refer to a type of finish added to furniture
  • Sheets of laminate are produced by pressing layers of material together and sealed with a thermosetting resin
  • It is then applied to the piece of furniture, usually made of an engineered wood like MDF.
  • Laminate finishes can be solid in color, simulate wood grain or have a pattern
  • Easy to care for; doesn’t fade
  • Typically stain and/or water-resistant

Wood


  • Also known as real wood or genuine wood
  • Constructed from wood cut from the trunks of trees like beech, mahogany, oak or pine
  • Trees categorized as hardwoods or softwoods refer to whether or not they shed their leaves and is not an indication of how hard or soft the wood is
  • More expensive than engineered wood products
  • Strong and long lasting
  • Needs to be maintained on a regular basis, for example with an application of furniture oil or wax to keep the wood from drying out
  • More difficult to match additional pieces even if produced by the same manufacturer, due to factors like wood grain variations & how the finish was applied

Asian Hardwood


  • Also known as parawood, rubberwood or tropical hardwood
  • Made from trees used to produce rubber for about 30 years before being harvested
  • It is kiln dried and this process gives the wood its strength and durability
  • Has the same properties as other hardwoods
  • More expensive than engineered wood products but less expensive than other types of genuine wood furniture
  • Often used for legs, tops and drawer fronts on furniture made of engineered wood products


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