Is That Real Wood? Check Before You Buy

When you’re buying anything made out of wood — especially furniture — it’s important to answer one key question: is it really wood?

There’s a big difference between wood furniture and wood veneer furniture. While both have their place, especially for budget-conscious buyers, real wood is the preferred option.

Here are some of the best ways to identify real wood furniture when shopping at stores, garage sales, estate sales, or anywhere else.

  • Weight and Solidity: Real wood furniture tends to be heavier and more solid compared to particleboard or MDF (Medium-Density fiberboard) pieces.
  • Wood Grain: Look for natural grain patterns. Real wood has unique grain patterns, while synthetic materials often have repetitive or printed patterns.
  • Imperfections: Check for natural imperfections like knots or variations in grain and color, which are rare in manufactured wood.
  • Joints and Construction: Real wood furniture often features dovetail or mortise-and-tenon joints, indicating quality craftsmanship.
  • Sound and Feel: Knock or tap on the wood. Real wood produces a different sound and feels more solid compared to engineered wood.
  • Edge and End Grain: Examine the edges and ends of the furniture. Plywood or veneers often have layered edges, while real wood has continuous grain.
  • Wood Species Identification: Familiarize yourself with different wood types and their characteristics, as real wood furniture can be made from various species.
  • Finishing and Varnishing: Check the finish. Real wood can be refinished and sanded down, whereas veneers and laminates cannot.
  • Price and Brand: Consider the price and the brand’s reputation. Higher prices and well-known brands often indicate better quality and real wood.
  • Smell: Real wood has a distinct smell that is absent in synthetic materials.

Some of these are easier to use to your advantage than others, but they’re all worth considering. With this guidance, you’re able to better differentiate between real wood furniture and wood veneer furniture. And with that, you can make a more informed and confident buying decision.

Four Sales is the leading estate sale company in Virginia, DC and Maryland. For the past 40+ years, Four Sales has conducted over 3,000 estate sales in Virginia, DC and Maryland. Four Sales estate sales headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia with regional offices in Charlottesville, Virginia and Annapolis, Maryland.   

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