Veneer Buying Guide: Part 1 – Choosing the Face Veneer

Buying wood veneer can sometimes be a complicated process, especially when it involves special cuts or figuring. Hundreds of dollars can be spent on a single veneer.  Whether it involves an $800 veneer or a $45 veneer, this series will help ensure you are choosing the best components for your veneer and, in turn, getting the best results possible for your project.

Part 1 of this series focuses on the face veneer and choosing the best type and grade for your project.

Veneer Buying Guide – Part 1

Wood veneer faces are manufactured in two types, natural or engineered.

Natural wood veneer is just that, natural. When a natural face is selected, the veneer has all the random characteristics that make wood beautiful and appealing such as mineral, figuring, knots, and other natural “defects”.  These naturally occurring “defects” are inconsistent and their presence or absence cannot be guaranteed from piece to piece.  For instance, the number of “Birds Eyes” in a Birds Eye Maple veneer can vary from light to medium to heavy.  Unless the mill allows you to chose a specific face for your veneer, you are at their mercy regarding how much “Bird Eyes” are actually in your face. The only thing that can be guaranteed is that the veneer will adhere to Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association (HPVA) Grading Standards. These standards are not based on aesthetics but based on the number of allowable naturally occurring “defects”.

Most people understand that wood is a natural product and can appreciate the variations from piece to piece.  However, there are clients that want the consistent look of a printed laminate but demand real wood veneer.  Engineered veneer fills this void.  Engineered veneer is real wood veneer that has been dyed to create a specific pattern. These veneers offer the color and grain consistency from sheet to sheet that can sometimes be hard to find in non-engineered products. To make the manufacturer’s job even easier, most engineered veneers can be toned to help with finishing consistency. Along with consistency, engineered veneer can also be more cost effective.  Because some wood species and figures are extremely rare and hard to find, using an engineered veneer instead of a natural veneer can cost considerably less. Lead times may also be shorter. Engineered veneer is often used for applications such as wall panels, commercial casework, and larger cabinetry projects where clients want each separate unit or wall panel to match throughout the room.

Be on the lookout for Part 2 of this series, “Which Veneer Backer is Best for your Project?” coming soon!

By: Katie Plank

VP of Sales and Marketing