With more couples registering for unfurnished BTO (Built to Order) HDB apartments, purchasing furniture as an alternative to having built in customised carpentry becomes a more popular option. That being said, many of these new home owners are first time furniture buyers. Consumers in Singapore are often spoilt for choice when it comes to purchasing furniture. You have some who would prefer entry level furniture that is made of cheap materials such as MDF, particle board, or plywood, and you also have some who are willing to spend on good quality solid wood furniture that could potentially last a lifetime.
Online product misrepresentation is on the rise and it is a result of the huge competition among furniture companies in Singapore. With so many different times of furniture terms and so many sellers claiming that day sell solid wood furniture, it can really be confusing on how to actually know if the seller is being genuine. Luckily for you, we have decided to come up with an article on how to identify genuine Solid Wood Furniture!
Solid Wood vs Engineered Wood
Before we begin, we have to first identify the difference between solid wood and engineered wood. Solid wood is wood that is not manufactured by mankind. Furniture made with such will possess all the positive natural characteristics of solid wood. Solid wood is generally heavier, more durable, stronger, more beautiful, and more suitable for heavy duty usage.
Engineered wood is the process of manufacturing wood through wooden chips together with resins to form wood like planks. Yes they contain wood, but more like wood particles instead of solid wood. Such furniture are usually much cheaper and are not meant to be long lasting. Furniture made with particle board and laminate is not resistant to water or scratches, cannot withstand heavy load, and often you see its laminate peel off rather easily. Particle board or chipboard furniture are the poorest in quality in terms of engineered wood. But, MDF that is of high quality can mimic solid wood very well, especially when you have good quality wood veneer cladded over it.
To note: Wood veneer are thin layers of natural wood. As MDF does not have any wood grain due to it being of a processed form, either printed laminate or wood veneer has to be pasted over it. Wood veneer completely mimics how the actual solid wood would look like, while laminate is less genuine looking as it is printed.
Spotting the Difference
When a seller claims that the item is 100% pure solid wood, it is always important that you know how to know if it is truthful marketing. Even reputable and large brands may be a little grey in this area.
Solid wood furniture is generally much heavier than those that are made of engineered wood. Give the furniture a knock with your knuckles. Engineered wood gives off a hollow sound while a knock on solid wood would sound really dense. However, with the quality of MDF improving, it can still be hard to tell the difference between MDF and solid wood using this method.
- Design – Are there curves?
MDF and Particle board furniture are cheap not only because the material is cheap. The designs are very limited too. If you are looking at a wooden piece of furniture that has many curves, there is a good chance that it is made of solid wood. Wood veneer and laminate can only exist on flat surfaces. It is humanly impossible to clad laminate or veneer around curved edges.
- Surface finish and grain variation
Solid wood is Mother Nature product. That being said, no 2 pieces of the same furniture should ever look entirely alike. The grains of two different furniture should not be 100 percent the same. You should immediately move on to another piece of furniture should you see repeating veins. Not only does it look unauthentic, it is really ugly. It is common to use veneer for good quality and economical solid woods such as rubber wood to mimic the effect of expensive and beautiful woods such as oak or walnut. However, it becomes tricky when the same is done on MDF. Therefore, this method alone would not be enough to come to a conclusion.
Veneers and laminate are flat pieces of layers that clad over your plank or platform. Look at the corners. If you see the design of wood grain at the top of the furniture ending at the corner, and see a non-continuous design continuing downward, you have your verdict that the item is not of soid wood nature. The corners are supposed to look like there is a full piece of cross grained wood there, and not one pattern on the top, and another for the downturn.
- Looking at the cross section
This final method is the only fool proof method among all mentioned above, but it is highly unlikely you will ever get to try it. Simply because it requires damaging the furniture. If you were to chop the piece of plank into 2, looking at the cross section will tell you right away whether or not it is solid wood.