With the surge in branded wooden furniture, I thought it might be fun to talk about three common options available to people looking for furniture. The best option really depends on your sense of style and the duration you're looking to keep your furniture. Often, like with so many things in life, we start off with a more functional and affordable item, and upgrade at a later stage. I've certainly done that. Plus, sometimes all you want is a fun piece that adds a little pizzazz to your interiors. You know it won't last forever, but that's fine! So let's jump right in.
Solid wood: Furniture made of solid wood utilises timber. No plywood for inner joints, for drawer boards, or planks. Just solid beams of wood. The larger the furniture, like beds and cabinets, the larger the length of wood required, and so, the larger the tree that's felled. This is why solid wood furniture is expensive, and has an environmental cost.
Solid wood is of two types- hardwood, which like teak can be very dense and hence durable, and softwood like pine and fir. Both types have beautiful natural grains that add character to furniture. I consider seasoned teak wood the gold standard. It has a beautiful long, oval grain, a deep gold color, and its durability is outstanding. Of course that doesn't mean I wouldn't buy a trendy accent piece made out of mixed medium, like wood and iron, or sleeper wood.
It's important to note that not all solid wood is durable, nor is it necessarily appealing. Bhoora sheesham, a relative of rosewood, and mango, are actually poor materials for furniture because of their tendency to warp and their susceptibility to wood borers. Neither of them have an appealing grain or color, and need to be stained to hide the variations in color and the knots in the grain.
I'll do a follow up article on the different types of hardwood and softwoods, but for now, here's some more information on hardwoods.
Plywood: This is a manmade material made by gluing wood veneers together. It is extremely strong, but does need a finishing veneer as plywood itself has a rough finish that splinters. Plywood is a great option for sturdy, custom built furniture. The larger the furniture, like cabinets and beds, the more economical it is to use plywood.
Particle board: This is a manmade material made out of woodchips and binders like resin. It is easy to cut into different shapes, but must be covered with a veneer. If you like a more organic look, this style may be too synthetic for you. It's easy to create furniture with, so manufacturers are able to provide a wide variety of design. Since it's not actual wood, it's not durable. If a chair or a bed starts wobbling, there's no way to fix it. This medium simply doesn't have the density to accommodate a repair.
More about particle board