Veneer and Laminate: What’s the Difference?

You might have noticed when looking through our table portfolio, that we make tables using both veneers and laminates. These are very different materials and each is best for different situations. So, what’s the difference and when is it best to use each one? 

  

VENEERS:  

Technically, a veneer is any thin layer of stuff attached to a thicker substrate. At Paul Downs, when we say “veneer” we’re referring to wood veneers. This type of veneer is real wood – it comes from a log just like lumber – but it’s been sliced into very thin sheets. The most beautiful trees are sent to the veneer mill, and yield woods that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Our highly skilled craftsmen transform raw veneer slices into incredible works of art.

Veneer is best for: Anything that needs to look great and demonstrate superior design and craftsmanship. The range of amazing woods we use result in compositions of extraordinary beauty and impact.

Veneer’s downside: Veneering takes skilled labor, and complex designs can consume many hours on our shop floor. So the cost tends to be higher than other materials. And, like any type of wood, it can be scratched or dented. It’s best to avoid veneers when the table will be subject to hard use by people who aren’t paying attention.

LAMINATES:

 You’ve seen these everywhere, and you probably know them by the trade name Formica. Laminate is formed by combining a printed paper layer that contains the graphic image with a resin layer of thermosetting melamine. It comes in large sheets, and the fabrication technique we use are similar but not identical to how we make wood veneer items.

Laminate is best for: Items that need to be extra-durable. It’s not impossible to damage laminate tables, but they are harder to scratch or dent than real wood. Also, laminates don’t require additional finishing, so the labor costs of making a laminate table are usually lower than an equivalent wood table. In addition, laminates are available in a huge variety of colors and patterns, so a very wide variety of appearance is available.

Laminate’s downside: It’s just not as nice to look at or touch as real wood. It’s also harder to make into complex shapes. We usually use laminate in simpler, less expensive work.

IN SUMMARY:

So, is one “better” than the other? No. We do great work using either of them. We wouldn’t work with a material that didn’t result in a product that will provide superior performance for many years. Everything we make is done by the same crew of craftsmen and has to meet our high standards of quality and design. The final choice depends on your situation. Matching your office aesthetic and vision, we will listen and make a recommendation, taking into account how you want your table to look, to work, and how much you want to spend.

Alright, what else can you work with? Custom is what we do! We make lots of tables using other materials, including Corian, stone, glass, and various metals. Again, we are a custom table manufacturer and we will work with you to produce the perfect design for your space.


If you haven’t already, please look through our gallery of custom conference tables. You can choose any of these designs as a starting point for your project, or you can submit your own designs. For help designing your custom conference project, contact us today at 484-680-7102 or info@pauldowns.com.