It's common to hear "solid wood" touted as a desirable feature of dining room furniture sets. And it should be. It is definitely an attribute. With solid wood dining sets, you are guaranteed both a great look and a long life. In addition to buying a product that is beautiful and built to last, solid wood furniture buyers can pat yourself on the back for supporting an earth-friendly cause (and the theme of our last blog post): sustainable style.
What is Solid Wood Furniture?
Solid wood means that all exposed parts of the furniture are made of solid board, which can be either softwood (such as pine) or hardwood (such as oak or maple) lumber. Most importantly, it means that no veneers or particle boards are used. Keep reading—at the end of this entry, I'll explain why this is a good thing!
Reasons You Should Invest
- Solid wood is a renewable resource. Lumberyards have to replace the trees they harvest—which they typically do by planting two or more trees for every one they harvest, or they would lose their livelihood.
- You're buying a product that is durable and should last for generations if you take good care of it. And care isn't difficult, you just need to keep your dining room furniture out of direct sunlight, in a place with humidity no higher than 35%, and away from a heat source. Additionally, wax your furniture every six to twelve months and polish your furniture monthly, taking care to wipe in the direction of the grain of the wood whenever possible.
- If your solid wood dining room furniture does show signs of wear and tear, it can be refinished. With a bit of sanding, it can easily be made to look like new again.
- It's good lookin'. Seriously. Veneers and laminates are an attempt to imitate the look of real wood. It's safe to say the real deal will look better than faux wood.
One Last Thing
Watch out—don't be fooled by the words "all-wood furniture." This does not necessarily mean that a product is solid wood, so ask in order to be sure. If a product is not made of solid wood, then what is it made of? The answer is composites, which usually mean manufactured wood products such as plywood and particleboard. Wikipedia's summary of the two is this: "Particleboard is cheaper, denser and more uniform than conventional wood and plywood and is substituted for them when appearance and strength are less important than cost." So you'll generally find composites used in less expensive furniture. They tend to be covered with a laminate or artificial veneer to give the appearance of real wood. While the costs savings can be attractive, over time composites can shrink, swell, or split, causing the veneer or laminate to come off or the damaged particleboard to fracture. It's definitely more cost effective to just spend the extra money up front and buy furniture that's built to last.