Laminate And Veneer - What’s The Difference? | Design Cafe

Laminate And Veneer – What’s The Difference?

Veneer vs laminate and difference between laminate and veneer

Laminates and Veneers are the most popular choices of decorative material that are used to adorn furniture, walls and cabinetry in the house. Read further to find out what they exactly are, their types, the differences between the two, and some tips to identify them.

What Are Veneers And Laminates?

Veneers are composed of thin layers of wood that are cut precisely from a thick log of the tree and stuck with adhesive to a surface hidden below. The outer layer is made up of real solid wood. The smaller pieces are further reused so there’s minimum wastage involved. They’re primarily employed in luxury interior designing projects to demonstrate the rustic and natural essence of nature. 

On the other hand, laminates are composed of multiple layers of craft paper and plastic resins glued together to form a single and rigid sheet, using extreme pressure and heat. Here, the upper layer of the wood-composite is printed with different colours or decorative patterns. They’re popularly known as Sunmica in India. 

Both laminates and veneers are commonly used as finishing materials for your furniture, closets, cabinets and more.

Veneer vs laminate where one is composed of thin layers of wood and the other is composed of multiple layers
The Veneer Almirah Blends in Well With the Color Scheme of This Study Space

A brief overview of the different types

There’s no dearth of laminate and veneer options to choose from when you’re deciding to buy new furniture or revamping your ceilings and walls. Let’s just give you a brief overview of the most popular types available in the market so that you’re not caught unaware.

Types of Laminates:

  • Textured laminate
    • Suede finish
    • Stone stucco finish
    • Nappa leather finish
    • Raw silk finish
  • Gloss-finish laminate
  • Matte-finish laminate
  • Metallic laminate
  • Acrylic-finish laminate
  • PVC-finish laminate
  • Decorative laminates
  • Compact laminates
  • Post formed laminates
  • Low-pressure laminates and high-pressure laminates
  • Industrial laminates
Difference between laminate and veneer and types of laminates
Light Grey Laminate Wardrobes Look Absolutely Stunning

Types Of Veneer:

  • Reconstituted veneer
  • Paper-backed veneer
  • Industrial decorative veneer
    • Unbacked & backed veneer
    • Composite & natural veneer
    • Prefinished veneer
  • Laminate veneer
  • Rotary-cut veneer
  • Veneer core plyboard
  • Raw veneer
  • 2-ply wood-on-wood veneer
  • Wood veneer types
    • Mahogany
    • Birch
    • Rosewood
    • Red oak or White oak
    • Teak
    • Cherry
    • Maple
  • Smoked veneer
  • Cracked veneer
Laminates and veneers which are a striking contrast to the other decor
Laminate Wardrobes Are a Striking Contrast to The Other Decor in The Room

Now that you know what they are and the popular varieties available, let’s deep dive into the differences between laminate and veneers based on multiple factors. 

  • Type Of Material

Veneers are made up of natural material while laminate is artificially made. 

  • Variety And Types

There are only a limited number of shades and types available in veneers since it’s a natural product.  While laminates can be produced in a variety of textures, shades, designs and can be personalised using digital printers as well.      

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  • Effect of heat, water and weather conditions

Veneers are susceptible to damage from heat, water and extreme weather conditions as they can expand and contract. On the other hand, laminates can resist extreme weather conditions of water and heat to a certain extent since they’re artificially built up. 

  • Longevity

Veneers can be easily scratched or damaged so they require constant maintenance by polishing the top surface to retain the beauty. They can last for a minimum of 15 years.

Laminates have hard surfaces that can resist stains and scratches so they last longer. However, once the top layer wears out, the entire surface will have to be replaced as it cannot be repolished or repainted. Manufacturers provide a minimum 10-year warranty on their laminate products.

  • Environment-friendly and recyclability

Veneers are natural and renewable resources so they’re non-toxic and more eco-friendly. It is also recyclable as one log of timber can produce several veneered wood slices.

While laminates are made up of plastics and resins which emit toxic VOC gases. They’re non-recyclable in nature. 

  • Thickness

Veneers are available in 0.4 mm to 6 mm thickness while laminates are available in 0.6 mm to 18 mm thickness.

  • Pricing

Veneers are comparatively more expensive than laminates, owing to its naturalness and maintenance. Laminates are differently priced based on the brand and quality you’re looking for.

  • Installation And Replacement

Installing veneers is a tricky task since they cannot be put on any existing surface and require specialised adhesives, tools and skills. Similar replacements of veneer sheets can be quite difficult since they’re one of a kind. 

On the other hand, laminates are easier to install over any existing surface with a tongue and groove interlocking system. However, if the sheet gets damaged then it can be replaced with a similar-looking one quickly. 

  • Preferable uses of the material

Veneers can be used to adorn the interior wall panels, wardrobes and cabinets of your home since they have a distinctive, high-end and aesthetic look similar to solid wood (parent material). Veneer wood textures help highlight statement pieces. 

Veneer vs laminate give a traditional feel to the bedroom
Veneer wood gives a traditional and timeless look to the bedroom

Laminates are typically used on tabletops, office furniture, floors, doors and kitchen cabinets as these spaces and pieces are frequently used. Since they’re mass-produced, they also lack the natural feel of real wood.

Difference between laminate and veneer which gives a smooth and sleek finish
Laminate gives a smooth and sleek finish to the wardrobe

Which One’s Better?

When it comes to choosing whether laminate or veneer is better, there’s no single answer. Each material has its own merits, demerits, and looks lovely in its own sense. However, if you’re looking for something rich and natural-looking, then go in for veneers as they’re unbeatable.  Laminates are a total win-win if you want to add a modern and minimalistic charm to your interiors with solid colours like black, white and so on.

Laminates and veneers gives a timeless look to the bedroom
Brown Veneer Walls Give a Traditional Feel to The Bedroom

Some more questions to address

You also need to answer a few quick questions before taking the plunge such as:

  • How many total pieces do you need to complete the project?
  • What is the turnaround time of your project?
  • How long do you expect the piece to last?

That’s all fellas! We hope that this blog has given you a lowdown on laminates and veneers in detail. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and make the final purchase as per your needs and preferences.  

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Also, Read Matte vs Glossy Finish

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Pooja Dara is a content writer at Design Cafe home interiors blog.

Pooja Dara

Pooja Dara holds an MBA in Marketing & HR, and has worked for leading FMCG brands with over six years of experience. Now an independent consultant she believes in creating value for her clients with user-centric and engaging content. She is also a photography enthusiast who loves shooting nature.