Solid Oak Versus Oak Veneer Furniture

When it comes to oak furniture, not all options are equal. Solid oak and oak veneers are two of the main choices that you can expect to come across. Many people assume that solid oak is always the superior option but this can be a myth.

How Do They Differ?

While solid oak is just as its name suggests, oak veneers are a different proposition. Rather than being solid oak all the way through, they involve slices of oak wood which have been glued onto another material, such as MDF or plywood. It’s the quality of this base that has a strong impact on the overall quality of oak veneer, which then determines whether it is a better option than solid oak furniture.

Is Solid Oak Better Than Oak Veneer?

Many people see solid oak as a better option than oak veneer. This is not always true. Oak veneer furniture can be cheaper than solid oak but this will not always be true, especially for high quality pieces. High quality oak veneer won’t be much cheaper than solid oak furniture and in some cases, it may even be more expensive.

Oak veneer can work well for furniture that is considerably larger than thicker, such as dining table tops. In this situation, oak veneer can be more robust than solid oak.

In reality, both can work well if they are of high quality, and these will often be down to the construction. Solid oak furniture can still be of lower quality if it has been made using cheap cuts of wood that haven’t been dried properly. This type of wood can be more prone to being damaged by central heating.

On a similar note, low quality oak veneer will use very thin slices of wood on top of a cheap base. The oak is highly likely to sustain chips, scratches and other surface damage that will expose the base and if it’s poorly put together, the veneer may part company with the base altogether.

How to Spot the Difference

Not sure how to well whether a furniture item is solid oak or oak veneer? These tips can help you to decide.

  • The easiest way is to ask the retailer whether the item is solid oak, oak veneer or a combination of the two.
  • Solid oak is very dense and heavy but oak veneer may also be a good weight if it includes MDF, for example.
  • Don’t use costs as your sole factor. An expensive price tag doesn’t necessarily mean that the item is definitely made from solid oak and a lower cost doesn’t always indicate low quality oak veneer.
  • You may be able to see some indications of oak veneer for yourself, especially a thin layer that is visible around the top edges, panels, doors and drawers. If the furniture looks as though it has a thin layer attached to the top, it’s probably oak veneer.
  • Check to see whether the wood on the top matches the underneath. Likewise, is the wood on the inside of the drawers the same as the outside? If not, you could well be looking at oak veneer.

Maintenance Tips

Both solid oak and oak veneer will benefit from good care to stay at their best. For solid oak, this will ensure that your furniture carries on looking attractive for the duration of its life. For oak veneer, it is even more important as failure to take good care of your furniture can lead to damage.

When choosing oak living furniture, your main choice will be between solid oak and oak veneer. Both can work well as long as they are of good quality, despite common assumptions that oak veneer is a poorer option.

Guest author F Kelly is a frequent blogger on home improvement topics and a furniture connoisseur.  Inspiration for this article came after brwosing Oak living furniture online at