Difference between solid timber, veneer and laminate

What is the difference between solid timber, veneer & laminate?

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What is the difference between solid timbers, veneers and laminates?  

Solid timber 

We did a project for Vicforests in which we used solid timber. They manage Victoria’s forests, and in their project, they wanted to use solid timber. The solid timber tables have a certain depth which you can’t achieve with laminates. The staff there were all about environmental management & caring for the forests. 

What you can’t see in the photograph is we had to use quite strong mechanical fixings underneath the table to maintain its shape. Even though it is kiln dried timber, it is still subject to warping and other complications that you wouldn’t get with laminate. 


In a project we completed in Armadale, we used timber veneer. The client wanted a high-end look, but we wanted the tabletop to be stable. So, we used veneer for the centre of the table in the main sections, and solid timber edging. The wall panelling running around the outside of the room is veneer as well, all mounted on a stable backing of MDF or chipboard. 

For the uninitiated, when you look at the table and touch it, you would likely think it was a solid timber table.  This is not a cost-cutting measure, it is done so the top will be kept stable. It is still expensive to machine & work with, but veneer is used to get the look without the inconvenience of solid timber 


Laminate is a lowcost material which is both easy to machine and easily replicable. The product is stable, as it won’t warp. Laminate also has high wear factors. You can put hot drinks on it, and you don’t have to be so careful of it as it’s a lot more forgiving, versus veneer which marks very easily. It is also cheap to produce and has a much lower cost to machine. A lot of larger sheet sizes can be made which results in less waste. Laminate is also very consistent so it is simple to achieve the same look 10 years down the track, whereas natural timbers age and develop in colour which means it is impossible to match. 


In summary, solid timber, veneer & laminate are 3 completely different materials, giving three completely different costs and three different purposes.  

There are three different products for three completely different applications. In the main, the high-value offer is the laminates. There are gradations in terms of quality, cost and how real the timber look can be.  

When you’re working with our design team on your project, the designers will specify the material best suited to the application.