Is Real Wood Furniture Worth The Extra Cost?

When most people think about a quality piece of furniture, they think about a furniture piece made from solid hardwood. Traditionally solid hardwoods were the preferred material for high-quality furniture.

Real wood furniture costs can vary due to the types of solid wood being used and the grade of the wood. Not all real wood furniture is worth the extra cost, especially if the wood they are using is substandard and the furniture is poorly constructed.

To understand if real wood is worth the extra cost, you need to understand a bit about real wood, including softwood vs. hardwood, wood grades, furniture construction, and the reputation of the furniture brand you are buying from.

Is Real Wood Worth The Cost?

Like most other things, there are many types and grades of real wood or solid wood. The thing to consider is the overall quality of the furniture and the kind of real wood being used.

Solid wood usually comes in two types: softwood and hardwood. The softwood lumber comes from what is known as conifer trees like Pine, Spruce, and Cedar.

As the name implies, these woods are softwoods and often can be easily dented with just your fingernail. Softwood lumber can also absorb and lose moisture much easier than hardwoods.

But not all softwoods are created equal. I have seen some Pinewood that was grown in Siberia, Russia which was very hard and of excellent quality.

One reason that this Russian pinewood was so hard is that due to the cold Siberian climate the wood grew slower which make the wood a harder wood. Like many other things, it depends upon the grade and the type of wood used in the furniture, and even what climate the softwood is grown in.

Hardwood lumber comes from a deciduous tree; a deciduous tree means the tree has leaves that fall off in usually the colder months. The most common hardwoods are Oak, Maple, Walnut, Hickory, and Mahogany. Most hardwoods are harder than softwoods, except for Balsa wood and some other types of woods. Rubberwood is also a wood that some people think should be softwood, but it is hardwood.

Hardwood trees also take a long time to grow and mature, so it will usually take years to grow back again once cut down. Softwood trees are trees that usually grow much faster than hardwood trees.

To understand if real wood is worth the cost you first need to identify what kind of wood is being used on the furniture and if it is a nice grade softwood or hardwood.

All About Wood Grades

If you visit a lumberyard, you may find that they quote you a price for the same wood based on the different grades of wood they are selling. Even among the wood types, the wood is classified into various types of grades.

Here are some of the wood grades:

  • Wood Grade 1 – This would be the highest quality of lumber or wood and have very few knots; if the wood has knots they are small and tight knots. Usually, for furniture, you do not want to have a lot of knots as the knots can weaken the wood or will need to be filled.
  • Wood Grade 2 – This wood would have more knots than Grade 1. In finer furniture production, Grade 2 may be placed in areas where the knots can not be seen, and the structure will not be compromised by using wood with wood knots.
  • Wood Grade 3– This is wood that is typically damaged and has blemishes. It is only used in areas that no one can see or not used at all.

For our furniture manufacturing, we usually use Grades 1 and 2. Sometimes for a specific look, a designer may want to see knots on the furniture’s surface to give the furniture some character, but for most fine solid hardwood furniture, this would not be the case.

Solid Wood and Cost Considerations

There are many reasons why solid wood furniture usually costs more. To know if the solid wood furniture is worth the extra cost a lot of that depends on what your need is.

Here are some of my thoughts on this:

  • Heirloom – If I were purchasing something as an heirloom that you want to be sure would last for many years, purchasing a fine solid wood piece of furniture is the way to go. Not only will this last for many years as antiques have lasted for hundreds of years, but it is a high-quality piece of furniture. On the other hand, if it is a fashionable kind of furniture piece and you think you may trade it up or get rid of it in a few years, then a hardwood solid or engineered wood furniiture is usually fine.
  • Refinishing – Solid wood is like an antique and can easily be sanded down and refinished. No matter how much you sand it, you will not sand off the wood. But if you get a piece of furniture out of engineered wood and you decide to sand it down, there is a good chance you may sand off the veneer down to the plywood or medium-density board (MDF). If this is a piece of furnture you may want to refinish one day, then you should buy solid wood furniture.
  • Wood Choices – if you are looking for a piece that will last, buy a piece made from hardwoods vs. the softwoods. The hardwoods will be more expensive as it is a more expensive wood and is usually used for higher-end furniture manufacturing. If you are not sure, ask the supplier before you purchase to make sure they use the quality of wood to match their price. Do some shopping around and check around to see the prices for types of hardwood furniture with quality construction.

Knowing that a solid wood piece of furniture is worth the extra cost will depend a lot upon many things from the sold woods being used (softwood vs. hardwoods) and the quality of the wood itself. Some of the cheaper solid wood pieces of furniture are many times poorly constructed so they may not be worth the extra cost.

You need to understand that not all solid wood is created equal, and just because a piece has a label on it to say it is solid wood, it may not be a quality piece of furniture. To see if it is a quality piece of furniture, you need to look at how the drawers and everything else fits together and if a reputable furniture brand manufactured it.

Most reputable furniture brands that produce high-quality solid wood furniture will ensure the wood they use and how the furniture is constructed are of the desired quality. So if you are not sure, the best thing you can do is ask them some questions about the wood and furniture construction before you purchase the furniture.

If you are interested in seeing how Mondoro can help you with your solid wood furniture needs – we would love to talk to you to see how we can help you.

At Mondoro, we create, develop and manufacture home decor and home furnishing products.

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