Kitchen cabinets veneer vs solid wood [What’s better 2023]

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Kitchen cabinets veneer vs solid wood, what’s the difference, and should you care? Let’s find out what to look for! Cabinets are not only for aesthetic purposes in a kitchen; they increase your kitchen’s functionality by providing more storage space. But what type of cabinets should you get? Should you go for solid wood or wood veneers? Both have their pros and cons.

kitchen cabinets veneer vs solid wood

Key points Veneer vs Solid Wood for Your Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Veneer and solid wood are two common materials for kitchen cabinets. Veneer is a thin sheet of real wood adhered to a cheaper wood substrate, while solid wood cabinets are made entirely from one type of natural wood.
  2. Veneer cabinets are durable, water-resistant, and cheaper than solid wood. They can also be sanded or stained to resemble genuine lumber.
  3. Solid wood cabinets are sturdy, durable, and offer a classic and timeless look. They can be easily customized and come in various sizes, shapes, and depths.
  4. Both veneer and solid wood cabinets have their disadvantages. Veneer cabinets can crack and get marks easily, and they are susceptible to water damage. Solid wood cabinets can contract and expand with temperature changes, leading to potential cracking.
  5. Veneer cabinets are generally cheaper than solid wood cabinets, making them a cost-effective choice for those on a budget.
  6. Both veneer and solid wood cabinets are susceptible to environmental factors. Hot and humid weather can lead to warping, and exposure to moisture can damage veneer cabinets.
  7. Scratches on veneer can be disguised with high-quality furniture polish or colored crayons designed for wood repair.

While wood veneers may seem an unconventional choice for your kitchen cabinets, they have become popular over the years. They are durable, water-resistant, and cheaper than solid wood. On the other hand, solid wood comes in various designs and is sturdy and durable. This post will highlight the pros and cons of solid wood and veneer cabinets to help you choose.

Maintenance and Care: Veneer vs. Solid Wood

Material Maintenance and Care Scratch Repair
Veneer Regular cleaning with a soft cloth and mild detergent. Avoid exposure to excessive moisture. Scratches can be disguised with high-quality furniture polish or colored crayons designed for wood repair.
Solid Wood Regular cleaning with a soft cloth and wood-friendly cleaner. Regularly apply a finish to maintain its look and protect from damage. Minor scratches can be fixed with a matching wood filler or crayon. Deeper scratches may require sanding and refinishing.

What Is Wood Veneer?

Wood veneer is made by adhering a thin sheet of real wood onto an underlying substrate. Depending on the manufacturer, the substrate used to make veneer can be plywood, block board, MDF (medium density fiberboard), or particle board; the material used to create cabinet boxes.

Wood veneer comes from wood species like oak, cherry, maple, birch, and walnut. Veneers can also incorporate exotic woods that are harder to source for solid wood cabinetry, like bamboo and mahogany.

kitchen cabinets veneer vs solid wood exotic

Solid Wood Doors

Solid wood doors are made entirely from solid wood. However, innovations have come along to produce more affordable veneer doors.

Solid wood and fiberboard can be used to make solid core doors. The inside of a core door is fiberglass, while its surface utilizes a different and higher quality material such as hardwood veneer. Wood veneer can make hollow cabinet doors.

What Are Wood Veneer Kitchen Cabinets?

Cabinets made with wood veneer give your kitchen the look and texture of solid natural wood at a reduced cost which makes it cost effective. Wood veneers are made of thin strips of natural hardwood and glued onto cheaper wood, the main body of the cabinet, and its door.

kitchen cabinets veneer vs solid wood cost

Therefore, your veneer cabinets appear to be made from expensive wood but are cheaper to make and purchase. Veneer cabinets can be sanded or stained. They have a look of genuine lumber instead of appearing like a fake laminate covering.

What Are the Disadvantages of Wood Veneers?

Wood veneers have a few drawbacks:

  • Most manufacturers produce wood veneers in thin strips, six inches in width. You’re therefore likely to see where wood grains meet, resulting in a fluctuated pattern on your cabinets.
  • They come in limited designs and patterns and are not easy to customize.
  • They crack and get marks easily and cannot be repaired.
  • Installing wood veneers requires skilled workers.
  • Wood veneers are susceptible to water damage when exposed to water for long.

What Advantages Do Wood Veneers Have Over Solid Woods?

Wood veneers have become increasingly popular in recent years compared to solid woods. That is because they are:

  • Sturdy and durable. Veneers resist warping and fragmentation and last longer than solid wood.
  • Eco-friendly and can be recycled after its intended lifetime. Unlike solid wood, veneers can be crushed to make wood waste that makes particle boards.
  • Low wood consumption as only a thin layer of wood is used on a furniture item. A tree log can only make a few pieces of hardwood furniture, while the same can produce several veneer sheets to surface many pieces of furniture.
  • Affordable since they come at a lesser cost than solid wood while still providing its aesthetics.
  • Water-resistant as long as the veneer is not exposed to water for a lengthy period.
  • Stain resistant compared to solid wood, which stains easily from spills.

When to Use Wood Veneers

The best reason you should use wood veneer cabinets is that they are economical compared to solid wood. Wood veneers should be your go-to option if you’re working on a budget but need something durable. And if you prefer environmentally friendly products, wood veneers are your thing. You can also factor in that veneer pieces, like cabinets and drawers, are easy to move.

What Are Solid Wood Cabinets?

Solid wood cabinets are made from one type of natural wood. Standard wood species include cherry, maple, oak, alder, walnut, pecan, and birch. They can have a stained finish, painted finish, treated, sanded, or varnished like any other wood furnishing.

Advantages of Solid Wood

Wood finishes in your kitchen give it a classical look, and their popularity is for good reasons.

  • Solid wood is sturdy and durable, depending on the type of wood. Solid wood is an excellent option if you hate replacing your bed, dresser, or dining set every so often.
  • Solid wood cabinets give your kitchen a classic and timeless look.
  • Solid wood can be easily customized and your kitchen cabinets can be made in dimensions that fit your project. Natural wood cabinets come in various sizes, shapes, and depths, creating a unique look for your kitchen.
  • Solid wood furniture is a selling point when you enlist your home for sale. Most homebuyers get drawn to high-end finishes like natural wood kitchen cabinets.

Disadvantages of Solid Wood

Solid wood is an excellent option for someone looking to invest in long-lasting furniture, but it has a few drawbacks.

  • Each piece of furniture made from solid wood is slightly different due to the varying nature of natural wood. Trees are organic plants; therefore each log will have varying characteristics from the other.
  • Solid wood is expensive and not as affordable as wood veneers. Trees take a long time to mature and get harvested, so manufacturers produce engineered woods.
  • Solid wood furniture is heavy to move about because of the natural wood.

Cabinet Durability: Solid Wood vs. Wood Veneer

Wood veneers are more durable than solid wood. However, both kinds of wood are susceptible to wear and tear over the years, depending on the type of wood you choose for your kitchen cabinets. Veneer wood cabinets are prone to warping in a kitchen or if you don’t have air conditioning and live in a hot and humid place. Solid wood is also at the risk of warping under these conditions.

kitchen cabinets veneer vs solid wood susceptible

Cabinets made from softer wood like pine can dent and wear down on edges and corners. Since veneer wood is made of hardwood, it is less likely to dent.

Environmental Factors for Solid Wood vs. Veneer

Some environmental factors affect solid wood and veneer, compromising the cabinets’ life. Solid wood is susceptible to contracting and expanding when the temperatures differ. Seasons like hot winters and cold summers can result in the cracking of solid wood cabinets.

Exposing wood veneer furniture to a moisture-laden environment can lead to their destruction since veneer is not entirely water-resistant.

Hot and humid weather is another environmental factor that can affect the life of your solid wood and wood veneer furniture. Hot weather can lead to warping.

Does Veneer Scratch Easily?

A veneer is prone to scratching because it is made from natural wood. The scratches and gouges can make your veneer furniture surfaces appear weathered and worn.

Can You Repair Scratches on Veneer?

It’s possible to disguise scratches, scuffs, and marks that appear on your veneer furniture. For minor scratches, rub a high-quality furniture polish using a soft cloth until the scratch is not visible. Use colored crayons or a wax filler designed to repair wood for deeper scratches and marks. Note that sanding away scratches can easily cut through the thin top wood layer, resulting in irreparable damage.

Are Veneers Cheap?

Veneers are generally cheap compared to solid woods. Cost depends on the species of the wood sheet used and the applied substrate.

kitchen cabinets veneer vs solid wood substrate

Is Plywood Better Than Solid Wood?

Generally, solid wood is better than plywood. In terms of strength and aesthetics, solid wood is stronger and looks good with its golden-brown color and straight grain patterns. Plywood, on the other hand, is easier to maintain since it is moisture and scratch resistant and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Solid wood furniture is more expensive than plywood furniture but of better quality.

Is Oak Veneer Real Wood?

Oak veneer is a thin decorative piece of oak wood (5 millimeters in density) combined with cheaper wood materials. Oak wood is higher quality than oak veneer, but the veneer is an actual wood product.

Is Wood Veneer Toxic?

Wood veneer is non-toxic since it is made of a natural product. There are non-toxic adhesives in the market that do not emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds). The sealants apply natural wood to the substrates, creating a safe wood veneer.

Is Wood Veneer Water Resistant?

Veneer finishes are susceptible to water damage if used in moisture-laden rooms like the kitchen or bathroom. Moisture can seep under the veneer and loosen the top layer, resulting in warping and bubbles. Preventing water from sitting on any veneer furniture is vital.

What to Choose: Wood Veneer vs. Solid Wood Cabinet?

Solid wood cabinets are the ideal choice. However, take your time to go through the pros and cons of solid wood and wood veneer before making your choice.

Ariel Path

With over three decades of experience in food manufacturing and kitchen design, I bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. My expertise spans across various aspects of the culinary world, from kitchen appliances to cooking techniques, food selection, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. My ultimate goal is to educate and inspire you in creating your dream kitchen, where functionality meets aesthetics. As a trusted source, I strive to provide valuable insights and guidance to make your kitchen remodel an enjoyable and successful experience. Together, let's transform your space into a culinary haven that reflects your unique style and meets your specific needs. See more details here.

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