If you’ve spent much time furniture shopping, you know that too many stores throw around industry jargon without any concern for the customer’s comprehension. Unfortunately, as shoppers, we’ve been conditioned to just smile politely and nod. But at Woodstock Furniture & Mattress Outlet, we want you to ask questions. We want to treat our customers to the best furniture shopping experience imaginable. Our desire for customer service is exactly why we are tackling a few furniture construction FAQs today. Exactly what is hardwood? What is softwood? What is wood veneer? Read on to find out!

Remember, all of these questions came directly from our customers – either in our store locations or here on the web. With terms like “solid wood”, “hardwood”, “softwood”, and “wood veneer” floating around, we get quite a few questions about the differences. We hope the answers below will answer all your questions about wood furniture construction!

What is Hardwood?

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Most people think that the term “hardwood” (also written “hard wood”) refers only to the toughness of the wood itself. While it’s generally true that hardwoods tend to be quite dense, there’s technically more to it than that. Any tree with a seed that reproduces via fruit, nut or acorn, is considered a hardwood. This includes cherry, oak, maple, hickory, birch, walnut, ash, mahogany, and more.

So, what is hardwood? The simplest answer is that wood from deciduous trees are hardwood. If a tree has leaves or flowers and not needles, it is deciduous – and therefore a hardwood. Hardwood is most often used for crafting high quality furniture because it is sturdy, durable, and dense. Because these trees take longer to grow, they are also the most expensive.

What is Softwood?

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So what is softwood, then? Unlike hardwood, softwood (or “soft wood”) comes from evergreen trees. Also known as coniferous or cone-bearing trees, evergreens have needles and remain green year-round. Their seeds are spread by cones as opposed to fruit or acorns. Softwood trees include all pine, fir, cedar, cypress, and spruce trees. Since evergreens grow all year round, they grow more quickly than deciduous trees. And since they grow more quickly, the wood is usually lighter and less dense on average.

However, the word “softwood” doesn’t necessarily indicate the actual density of the wood. In fact, some softwoods can be just as solid as hardwoods. So there are certainly exceptions to this rule…er…guideline. For this reason, even the most high-end furniture these days will often include softwoods. Some rustic, rough-hewn furniture is made completely out of softwoods like pine or cedar. In many instances, softwoods are used to frame the furniture before being overlaid with hardwood veneers. This process makes these pieces more affordable and lighter weight than solid hardwood furniture, but with a similar aesthetic.

What is Wood Veneer?

wood veneer

Lastly, that leads us to veneers. What is wood veneer and why is it used in making furniture? Wood veneers are incredibly thin layers of hardwood fixed to a piece of softwood or faux wood, usually with an adhesive. Unfortunately, wood veneer often gets a bad rap.

While sometimes wood veneer is indeed applied to cheap wood alternatives like particle board or chipboard, wood veneer furniture can range from mediocre to great quality. A high quality wood veneer affixed to a softwood base is a great way to get a beautiful hardwood look for a much lower price!

WFMO: Metro Atlanta’s Source for High Quality Wood Veneer and Hardwood Furniture

So which one is right for you? Why don’t you come to Woodstock Furniture & Mattress Outlet and find out! With locations in Woodstock/Acworth, Dallas/Hiram and Rome, we carry a variety of hardwood, softwood, and wood veneer pieces perfect for any price point!

Speaking of solidly-built wooden furniture, be sure to join us on the WFMO blog next week for our brand spotlight on an Atlanta, GA original – Liberty Furniture!