How to Tell If Furniture Is Laminate or Veneer? and Can I Paint Them?

Before buying furniture, you need to consider the type of wood used in the making and differentiate between veneer, laminate, and solid wood. How to tell if the furniture is laminate or veneer? Laminated wood is easy to recognize. The furniture is made of laminated wood if the grain doesn’t follow through the piece. Laminated furniture gives an identical wood look. However, the veneer is just a coating of original hardwood on any cheap material, and it doesn’t provide the exact wood look.

Is veneer or laminate better?

Surely, the laminates are better as they are known for their reliability and durability. In addition, laminates are resistant to scratches and stains due to their strong core material. Also, it looks like wood. On the other hand, veneers are not as reliable and durable as laminate.

Keep reading to learn the differences between veneer and laminates and how to paint veneer and laminate furniture.

How To Tell If The Furniture Is Laminate Or Veneer
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How to tell if the furniture is laminate or veneer?

People can easily differentiate between furniture made up of laminate or veneer by the wood grain appearance. Furniture made of laminate is usually polished to look like real wood. Still, it is made up of plastic and the composition of other materials. In contrast, the veneer typically coats original hardwood around any other cheap material such as plywood.

What is laminate furniture?

What Is Laminate Furniture

Laminate is an artificially synthesized wood usually made up of plastic or finely grained pieces of wood and is printed in a way so that the texture makes the laminate look like real wood. Sometimes, fiber and a combination of several other composites are also used to produce laminate furniture.


Laminate furniture has several features, such as:

  • Laminate furniture has a bright and glaring appearance.
  • It can be painted to change the appearance of the furniture.
  • Furniture made up of laminating wood is often durable
  • Furniture made of laminate can resist heat changes and scratches

What is veneer furniture?

What Is Veneer Furniture

A veneer is usually a thin layer of hardwood cut and put together on a piece of plastic or any other cheap material. This technique allows making furniture with different types of designs and relatively less expensive. As the upper surface of veneer is real wood, you can also polish, paint and apply varnish on it just like real wood. The top layer of the veneer is up to 2 cm thick and can easily be molded into other shapes. The veneer is renowned for its realistic impressions and granular patterns. Many durable substituents like MDF is being utilized by many furniture companies to make the veneer look more elegant and sensible. Furniture made of the veneer is very much popular due to its shine and attractive quality.


Some quality features of veneer furniture are given below:

  • Veneer furniture provides a realistic impression of real wood.
  • Wood veneer can be painted or stained in different designs and patterns.
  • Veneer furniture can be restyled when worn out.

Pros and Cons of Veneer & laminate wood

There are several advantages and disadvantages of using furniture made up of veneer or laminate wood depending upon their nature and type of material. Discussed below are some of the points that can help you understand the pros and cons of both kinds of furniture and how to use them:

Pros of Laminate

Here are the pros of laminate

  • Laminate is artificially synthesized and bears enhanced durability as compared to other wooden furniture
  • Laminate wood is scratch proof and resistant to heat and stains
  • Laminate furniture can easily be cleaned and polished to give it a new look and requires low maintenance and care
  • Laminate Is cheap and offers you several variations in design and furniture items.

Pros Of Laminate

Cons of Laminate

Here are the cons of laminate.

  • Due to synthetic material, laminate is lower in quality and more likely to be worn out quickly.
  • Synthesized material used can limit you to some specific designs and texture and decrease the options of changing the look
  • Since it is made up of artificial materials, laminate lacks a realistic look and attraction than real wood furniture.

Pros of Veneer

Following are the pros of Veneer.

  • Due to the thin layer made of pure wood, veneer feature gives a realistic touch and a look of actual wood furniture to its buyers
  • Veneer furniture attains uniform appearance. The substitutes used in the making of veneer are almost the same and can easily be matched with each other
  • Veneer furniture is long-lasting and is warp resistant
  • Veneer furniture is light in weight compared to laminate and real wood furniture, making it easy to carry and transport from one place to another.
  • Veneer furniture offers a wide range of refinishing options like change in color, texture, and design. You can also restyle furniture made up of veneer to change its looks
  • Due to less layered structure and real wood coating, veneer furniture is comparatively expensive than laminate furniture but less expensive than practical wood furniture.

Pros Of Veneer

Cons of Veneer

Following are the cons of Veneer.

  • The extra layer coated above the material has more chances of getting damaged and scratched.
  • Due to layered coating, it is challenging to repair furniture made up of veneer as the layer start to peel off often.
  • The inside material is a mixture of several chemicals, wood dust and other components resulting in decreased uniformity among veneer furniture
  • The veneer is sensitive to wet atmosphere and can absorb moisture resulting in the peeling of the hardwood layer
  • Veneer furniture do not acquire much stability and can be easily be damaged while moving

How to paint veneer furniture?

Painting veneer furniture depends on the condition of the veneer. There are only two possible outcomes: the veneer is in better health, and the inside material is not chipping off yet. In this case, you can simply apply paint, texture, sand, and prime as per your desire on any veneer furniture and leave it to dry correctly to get the best results. Secondly, if the veneer is broken or damaged and the inside material is chapped off in some places, you need to make the surface plain first using sandpaper. Then fill the empty parts with wood dust or any other material, stick it with glue and then smooth the surface, now you can apply paint on it and leave it to get dry properly.

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How to paint laminate?

Laminate furniture can also be painted and restyled, just like veneer furniture; however, some points must be kept in kind. As the laminate furniture is shiny and is embossed with glossy paint, you need to make it dull using sandpaper. Remember that using ordinary sandpaper in this process will be useless. You might need better quality sandpaper such as 120 grit to dull and smoothen the surface. Once the surface gets dull, you can apply paint or varnish to make it look better.

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Next time you decide to buy furniture, make sure to go through all of the available options. Acknowledge whether the furniture is made up of laminate or veneer, the quality of the material used in it, the durability of the furniture, and certain other factors discussed above. Depending upon the furniture’s characteristics and nature (laminate, veneer), you can easily purchase good quality furniture for your home, school, or work environment.

If you have any queries or suggestions, let us know in the comments below.

Difference Between Laminate And Veneer Wood

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