Solid wood vs plywood veneer debate

When ordering custom home furniture with us, our customers often feel that solid wood is better over plywood. Although solid wood does have many positive attributes, we recommend not to dismiss plywood furniture altogether.

Why? It is a misconception that solid wood is better than plywood. Perhaps, many people do not realize that plywood veneers are frequently used on high end furniture in luxury condos and hotels.

It is our role to keep you informed of the pros and cons of solid wood and plywood. We hope this will help you make decisions when purchasing furniture.


Very often when you think of veneer furniture you will think of poor quality peices from low budget stores. These goods usually have low quality veneers on low quality particle board. They are not meant to last very long.

A high quality plywood furniture will use high quality wood veneer over high quality particle board:

— veneer quality
Wood veneers range in thickness from 1/40″ up to 1/16″ – this is what determines the quality of plywood furniture. Thicker plywood will provide more durability and the option to repair if needed.

— board quality
Low end plywood furniture tend to be made with particle board (although there are varying qualities, there are high quality particle boards too). High end products are generally made with MDF boards or high quality particle boards – these are stronger material.

Compared to solid wood, high quality plywood does not expand or contract. That means, almost no wood movement over time, while solid wood will have some movement over time, especially without good care (i.e. placing furniture in an extremely dry area, in direct sunlight).

Compared to solid wood, plywood makes it possible to create a bookmatch at a relatively low cost. That means you could have a continuous wood pattern across your furniture. It can look very nice in the kitchen for instance.

Plywood also allows a shorter wait time than solid wood furniture. With plywood, there is no need for gluing up pieces of solid wood to create the desired width. This is definitely a plus if you have a rush job!

The disadvantage to plywood furniture is that when repairing serious damage, you would be limited according to the thickness of the veneer. You may sand through the veneer, exposing the board, an irreversible mistake!

Solid wood

Wood is a natural product. It will expand and contract according to season throughout the year. However in Hawaii, especially with local wood, you are in the clear.

With imported solid wood is susceptible to general movement and perhaps splitting, cracking, or warping. This is due to the drastic differences in humidity and temperature from the place of origin. However there are woodworking techniques to minimize wood movement, for example by inserting braces on the back of a dining table top. The upside to wood movement if you are into all that natural things, you will love the course nature is taking you…

Solid wood furniture pros and cons

Solid wood furniture is highly repairable. Furniture made of wood will stand the test of time because it can be brought back more easily than veneer furniture, even from severe damage.

In conclusion…

Both solid wood and plywood options are worth considering. We hope this helps keep you well informed so that you can make the right decision.