What to look for when buying wood furniture

July 27, 2015

Whether its antique, vintage or brand-new pieces, here's some things to look for when buying wood furniture.

What to look for when buying wood furniture

Look for the right wood at the furniture store

  • Any single kind of wood, from mahogany to oak, can come in many varieties of colour or grain.
  • To make a wood's identity even more difficult, many less expensive woods are often stained and finished to look like costlier ones.
  • A good test is to pull out a drawer and look at the unfinished back side of the front panel. There, you can see the wood's true colour and grain pattern.
  • When shopping for new wood furniture or furnishings, be sure to read the descriptive labels. You can learn the type of construction and the finish from the label, and make a more informed decision.

Identify antique, vintage and second-hand furnishings

  • Shopping for used furniture can be quite a different matter, since informative tags are probably not attached.
  • Your source — antique dealer, auction house, estate sale or second–hand shop — should be able to correctly identify a piece of furniture's wood.
  • Always inquire after the construction, age and other pertinent information from the dealer, especially if they're asking for a sizable sum. If they don't know, move on.

The differences between veneers, inlays and laminates

Thin slices of decorative grained wood, paper or other materials are often glued to a solid wood or plywood base to achieve a desired design. These features can protect the furniture or keep its costs low.

  • Veneer is a thin layer of decorative grained wood glued to a sizable surface, such as a table's top and drawer fronts. The effect is a solid wood look.
  • Inlays use one or more woods, as well as metals, ivory, shells and stones, that's inserted into a base wood. The contrasting materials create decorative floral and geometric designs.
  • Laminates of specially finished paper or plastic are often applied to plywood furniture on the visible surfaces. Laminated items like shelving and kitchen countertops can be scratch and heat-resistant, impervious to water, and need only a soap and water clean-up.

Furniture shopping can be a lot of fun, but its important to be informed before making any purchases. If you know what to look for, you can find the piece you want and give your home decor the look you want.

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