how to tell if furniture is laminate or veneer
Kristina Davis

How to tell if furniture is laminate or veneer one? Choosing the right piece of furnishing for your home is often one of the most challenging decisions you could ever make.

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But among the hundreds of options available in the market, having wood furniture has become a popular option for many homeowners in the United States.

Their contemporary yet rustic vibe complements almost any interior and exudes a warm feeling, perfect for any home. 

But since solid wood furnishing often has high retail prices, advancements in technology have paved the way for excellent alternatives that almost look authentic.

Whether you shop for furniture online or at the nearest home depot, you will always come across laminate and veneer tables, shelves, and a lot more.

Here, we will look at the primary differences between these two materials and how you can judge whether the piece of furniture you are eyeing is laminate or veneer.

How to Tell If Furniture Is Laminate or Veneer: What to Look Out For?

Although nothing can beat authentic solid wood’s natural tone and beauty, choosing your furniture still depends on many factors.

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As a matter of fact, almost all homeowners would agree that their maintenance and budget are also essential determinants aside from their appearance.

So, deciding between laminate or veneer may not be as bad of a deal as you think it is.

Laminate Vs Veneer

Determining whether a piece of furniture is laminate or veneer can get a bit tricky online or even in person.

For both types, manufacturers use a less expensive covering material that resembles the appearance of solid wood.

Over time, this layer may slowly begin chipping off or peeling away.

Thus, it is crucial to understand what they are and their key differences.

What Are Laminates?

A piece of laminate furniture has a synthetic covering usually made up of vinyl or plastic.

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This material also tends to resist moisture, heat, and scratches because of its composition, allowing you to place your mugs on it without ruining its surface.

In addition to this, manufacturers also print over these sheets to attain a grainy and shiny finish.

What Are Veneers?

On the other hand, veneer furniture closely resembles solid wood because it can be easily stained and polished.

But this hardwood layer is often only half-an-inch thick, limiting the refinishing methods you can do over it.

Additionally, the material underneath the covering also gets exposed once the surface peels away.

Laminate Vs Veneer – Primary Differences

laminate vs veneer

While it may not be easy for some to differentiate laminate and veneer furniture, there are several primary differences between these two types of materials.

Below is a list of these distinctions:


Since laminate furniture consists of synthetic materials, they generally have lower prices in the market.

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On the other hand, veneer furniture is much more expensive than the former because of its composition.

However, this alternative is still more affordable than authentic solid wood.


Veneers have limited varieties, colors, designs, and shades because it consists of a natural hardwood material.

Among the available options in the market include paper-backed, phenolic, lad up, and raw veneer.

Meanwhile, the synthetic materials that make laminate furniture give it a more expansive collection.

You can choose from items with varying textures, such as soft, matte, or high gloss.

But one downside of this material is the absence of a natural tone and grain texture, which are two distinct properties of solid wood.

Thickness In The Market

The thickness of laminates usually ranges from 0.6 mm to 18 mm, while veneers range from 0.3 mm to 6 mm.

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Thus, having the former at home calls for careful refinishing methods.

Overall Quality

If a piece of wood furnishing consists of synthetic materials, it will often look “fake” because of its shiny appearance.

This characteristic is precisely what you may notice with laminates in the market.

But since veneers consist of a thin layer of hardwood, it can pass off as solid wood, giving your home a classy and rustic vibe.


Laminates contain plastics and resins, making them less environmentally friendly than veneers.

Furthermore, they release toxic gases and volatile organic compounds, harming you and your family members.


In terms of durability, laminate furniture is more resistant to moisture, heat, and scratches, making it a top choice for those with kids and pets at home.

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Meanwhile, veneer furniture is more sensitive to scratches and dents. Hence, these materials need closer attention and care.

Maintenance Cost

Materials with laminate covering are easier to clean than those with veneer surfaces.

In addition to this, their resistance to water and scratches also make their maintenance cost almost negligible.

On the other hand, veneer furniture often has a higher maintenance cost, primarily since its surface consists of hardwood.

Because of this, you would need a regular maintenance and cleaning routine involving wood oils and sealants.

Refinishing Methods

Over time, the surfaces of many wood furnishing peel away. But with proper refinishing methods, they can last relatively longer.

Since laminates consist of only synthetic materials, it is impossible to stain and repair its top.

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Painting over it may also be challenging and requires much attention.

On the other hand, the surface of veneers makes staining and painting possible. You can also minimize light scratches by gently sanding over them.

But getting too deep may cause further damage to your material.


With periodic maintenance and refinishing routine, veneers will generally last longer.

On the other hand, you would need to replace laminate furniture once the surface is damaged.

Final Thoughts

We hope after reading this guide you can have an idea on how to tell if furniture is laminate or veneer.

Deciding between laminates or veneers is not something you should be ashamed of.

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Despite their difference from authentic solid wood, you should always prioritize your budget and resources.

It would be best to consider their affordability, durability, maintenance costs, and many more factors.