Differences between Natural and Engineered Wood Veneers

natural wood veneerWood veneers are attractive and rightfully popular materials used for the interiors of homes, offices and other business establishments, aircrafts and more, as well as the enhancement of everything from furniture pieces to musical instruments. But did you know that they are generally classified into two distinct kinds: natural wood veneer and engineered wood veneer?

Natural Wood Veneer

Natural veneer is a unique material sliced from logs that is influenced by an individual tree’s reaction to its soil composition, geographic location and other growing conditions throughout the duration of its growth. The intrinsic patterns and markings in natural veneers aren’t altered or enhanced in any way, making each natural veneer from a tree an individual work of art.

Engineered Wood Veneer

Engineered Wood veneers are also known as reconstituted, recomposed, man-made or manufactured veneers.

As its name implies, however, engineered wood veneer is a re-manufactured product processed to achieve a pre-designed appearance. Find out more about how this product differs from its natural equivalent.

Wood Veneer Manufacturing Differences

engineered woodProduction Processes – The production process for natural wood veneer is known as slicing. This is when an entire log, or part of a log, is sliced with the use of an extremely sharp knife, producing thin sheets of veneer. Engineered wood veneers, on the other hand, are sliced from softer, rapidly growing renewable species. This veneer is dyed in vats, dried and glued together into various shaped blocks where it will be re-sliced and re-glued, depending on the desired pattern. The finished product can emulate natural wood grains like flat cut “cathedral”, quarter cut straight grain, burl or other figure. Even geometric fantasy patterns can be created.

reconstituted woodCost of Production and Final Product – Engineered wood veneers can be less expensive to produce than natural veneers. This is because it’s cheaper to slice fast growing trees and glue them into blocks for mass production.  Patterns and colors can easily be reproduced from block to block. The average size of the blocks are 110” (280cm) – 132” (335cm) long and + or – 24” (61cm) wide. This way each engineered veneer leaf minimizes waste and leads to cost savings due to higher yield. Natural wood veneer is rarer and harder to produce. It is also more highly valued as a material fundamentally based on retaining the unique properties bestowed by Mother Nature.

manufactured wood veneersDeviations in Design – Natural veneers are unique; no two trees, even if they’re the same species, will have identical patterns in their wood. Engineered veneers are man-made, so the resulting designs can be mass produced.

 

Choose a Great Source for Natural Wood Veneers

man-made woodHigh quality natural wood veneers remain the most popular choice amongst designers and artisans. Nevertheless, the market for engineered wood is also growing, especially because some projects call for repeatable coverage over large surface areas. In sourcing your natural wood veneer, therefore; do rely on a company that is proud of their adherence to good sustainability and reforestation practices.

 

 

Sabrina Parisette-HerzogSabrina Parisette-Herzog is a 5th generation wood veneer specialist. Owner and President of Herzog Veneers, Inc., and a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, she and her husband Sam started the company in High Point, NC in 1982.
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