Veneer vs Laminate: Make the Right Choice


The main use of both veneers and laminates is to provide a decorative surface, which gives a finishing touch to the interior design. Though being used for the same purpose these materials are poles apart in their properties, availability, life cycle, cost, etc. When we compare veneer vs laminate, both have their own pros and cons. Hence, here we have tried to provide a brief comparison of veneer vs laminate to help you make the correct choice while choosing the finishes of your house furniture.


01. Material

  • Veneer is a very thin slice of wood which is obtained by peeling a tree log.
  • Laminate is an artificial material made from decorative papers and plastic resins.

02. Uses

  • Used at places which are less prone to wear and tear.
  • Used where premium finish, touch and feel is important.
  • Example: Conference rooms, Luxurious Home Interiors, Walls, etc.
  • It is the best choice for areas which are prone to wear and tear.
  • Used where durability, impact and scratch resistance is important.
  • Example: Tabletops, Office Furniture, Cabinetries, Doors, etc.

03. Properties

(a) Resistance to Physical Components

(i) Water

  • It is susceptible to damage in presence of water as water is known to damage the polish and eventually the wood surface.
  • It can resist water up to a certain extent.

(ii) Abrasion and Scratch

  • Veneers have less resistant to abrasion and scratches as compared to laminates.
  • The surface of laminate is hard and resistant to abrasion and scratching.

(iii) Warping and Fragmentation

  • It is resistant to warping and fragmentation.
  • It is not resistant to warping and fragmentation.

(iv) Clipping

  • Veneer has high resistance to clipping as compared to laminates.
  • It is a brittle material hence prone to clipping.

(b) Appearance

  • Each sheet is unique and exclusive and gives everlasting value to furniture.
  • It is available in numerous designs, patterns, colors and textures. The patterns are repetitive in nature.

(c) Surface Finish

  • The surface can be customized by polishing or painting.
  • The surface cannot be painted or polished.

(d) Replacement

  • As the sheets are exclusive, once the sheet is damaged a similar replacement is never available.
  • Similar looking sheets can be manufactured if needed.

(e) Toxicity

  • As it is a natural material, it is non-toxic.
  • It is toxic as it is known to emit VOC’s.

(e) Recyclability

  • It can be recycled.
  • Once damaged, laminates cannot be recycled.

(g) Strength and Durability

  • Veneers have less strength and durability than that of laminate.
  • It has high strength and durability compared to other finishing materials.

04. Size

Standard Thickness:

  • 8 mm to 4 mm in a standard veneer

Standard Length and Width:

  • 4 feet to 12 feet long (1220 mm to 3658 mm )
  • 4 feet wide (1220 mm)

Standard Thickness:

  • 6 mm to 1.8 mm thick plain sheets.
  • 3mm to 18 mm thickness in self-supporting compact laminate sheets.

Standard Length and Width:

  • 8 feet x 4 feet (2438 mm x 1219 mm)

05. Installation

  • Its installation requires special skills, instruments and adhesives.
  • It cannot be installed over any existing surface.
  •  Post processing is required before applying finish to the veneer surface. (Before applying the final polish, veneer has to be smoothen using sandpaper.) Thus it requires more time for installation.
Also Read: Installation process of veneer
  • Easy to install as no special skills and instruments are required.
  • It can be installed over any existing surface.
  • No post-processing is required as the laminate is a finished product.

06. Maintenance

  • The surface has to be re-polished periodically.
  • It requires high maintenance as it is a natural wood product.
  • Special care has to be taken while cleaning the surface to prevent damage.
  • No polishing is needed.
  • It is very easy to maintain as the surface is resistant to physical damage.
  • Wiping with a damp cloth or vacuuming is all it takes to clean the surface.

07. Life

  • If timely polishing and proper care is taken the material is known to last longer than laminates.
  • It lasts only till the top layer is not damaged. Once the top layer is worn out the entire surface has to be replaced.

08. Cost

  • It is generally costlier than laminates.
  • It is more economical than veneer.

(a) Material Cost

  • The price of veneer sheets is always calculated per square foot.
  • Its price may vary depending on the type of wood species, type of cut and thickness of the sheet.
  • The price approximately ranges from 70Rs /sq. ft. to 9000Rs/sq. ft.
  • The price of a laminate is always calculated per sheet.
  • Its price may vary depending on the properties as well as the thickness of the sheet (0.8, 1, 1.25mm).
  • The price approximately ranges from 600Rs/sheet to 6000Rs/sheet.

(b) Life Cycle Cost

  • The maintenance cost of the veneer is very high.
  • Maintenance cost is negligible.

09. Types

Veneers are classified on the basis of :

  • Use
  • Types of wood species
  • Veneer cutting
  • Backing
  • Matches
  • Grains of wood

Laminates are classified on the basis of:

  • Pressure applied
  • Thickness
  • Use
  • Surface finish
  • Advanced properties

Special Comments

  • If you need good aesthetics and have a luxurious budget, a veneer is recommended. However, laminates go hand in hand as far as general use is concerned.
  • From the above comparison of veneer vs laminate, the user needs to make a judicial and rational choice.
  • The popular manufacturers of veneers and laminates in India are:
Century Laminates

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