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Furniture Materials Glossary

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Furniture Materials Glossary

Construction Matters: Our Materials Glossary Tells You What You Need to Know

Woods & Synthetic Woods

The furniture we carry is made from many different materials, giving our pieces a wide range of quality, comfort, and affordability. It is very important for every customer to find the right balance that meets their own individual needs. That being said, it can be extremely useful for one to be familiar with the different materials commonly used in furniture construction. Whether you are shopping on a budget or you want the ultimate in luxury, this guide will point you in the right direction!
Hardwood Solids
Solid wood furniture is considered the best quality furniture on the market, and if you are purchasing furniture that will be in your home for a long time, it is a very smart investment. Even with wear, solid wood gains character and charm and becomes a part of your family. Solid wood furniture is usually crafted with attention to detail that includes dovetailed joints, wood on wood drawer glides, and strong protective finishes.
Hardwood solids, in particular, are cut from the trunks of deciduous hardwood trees. Among the most popular of these are oak and maple, which are commonly used for constructing furniture and cabinetry. And don?t forget, no two pieces of solid wood furniture are the same, so your furniture will be completely unique. Look for hardwood solids in all types of furniture, including armoires, beds, and bar stools.

Asian Hardwoods, Parawood, & Rubberwood
Asian hardwood is also referred to as parawood, rubberwood, and tropical hardwood. Mainly from Southeast Asia, this wood is as strong as maple and is often referred to as Malaysian Oak because of its durability and strength.
The trees used for this wood are native to the Amazon region of South America. In the 19th Century their seeds were transported to England for germination and the resulting seedlings were brought to Malaysia and planted permanently (thus the name Asian hardwood).
Furthermore, the trees are used to produce latex for 25-30 years prior to being cut down for furniture construction. This ecologically friendly process has spawned the name rubberwood. Look for all three types of wood in a wide range of furniture pieces, including bar sets, ottomans, and dressers.

Engineered Wood / MDF
MDF is a common abbreviation for medium density fiberboard, or engineered wood. MDF is made out of multiple wood fibers glued together under heat and pressure, and is generally very affordable and often just as durable as solid wood. Furniture made with MDF can imitate the look of real wood while meeting the budget requirements of most families.
MDF offers several advantages over alternate materials, while not being too costly. It can be made with recycled materials, and possesses no grain so it can be drilled and/or cut without damaging the surface. Also, MDF is often sturdy enough to be nailed together, and yet it's light enough to be shipped cheaply and easily. Look for MDF in many children's furniture, decorative fireplaces, and table tops.

Wood Veneer
Wood veneers are constructed of thin slices of real wood which are adhered to the surface of a piece of furniture to give it the glowing appearance of real wood. Veneers can be laid over less costly and lighter materials to save production and shipping costs, or added to a very expensive piece to showcase a particularly beautiful grain pattern. Any smooth and flat material can have veneer laid over it, making this an extremely versatile and popular method of constructing furniture.
The slices used for veneering are generally trimmed from the most attractive parts of the wood source. A saw was originally used for this procedure, but is now commonly replaced by a stationary knife. This reduces the dust that is caused by sawing, and also allows more slices to be cut from each individual log. Look for wood veneers on a wide range of furniture, including table tops, fireplace mantels, and headboards.

Laminates consist of a layer of wood or other product, such as paper, which is applied over a wood frame and sealed with a protective layer of thermosetting resin. They are used in a wide variety of products (especially office furniture), as they can be extremely durable and stand up to heavy use. In addition you are virtually guaranteed that the finish on your products will match what you already have. Unlike real wood, laminates should not fade or have variations from piece to piece. They are also very easy to clean with just a soft cloth. Look for laminates on children?s furniture, office desks, and coffee tables.


Wrought Iron
Wrought iron means "worked iron" in Old English. Wrought iron refers to metal that is hammered or bent into shape as opposed to being cast or poured at a foundry. The result is a metal that has a roughed up surface as opposed to the smooth machine-made look of alternate metal products. Because of this coarse surface, wrought iron is able to retain a thicker layer of finish than smoother metal.
Working metal by hand has been done for over 5,000 years, to make functional items such as furniture, as well as art.
The wrought iron of today most commonly consists of mild steel, which was discovered in 1856 and is made by melting cast iron and removing the carbon and slag. Look for wrought iron on high quality pot racks, pub table sets, and fireplace accessories.

Stainless Steel
Stainless steel refers to shiny steel that contains chromium, making it resistant to corrosion. Not only is stainless steel 100% recyclable, there are no coatings applied to the surface. This is great for the environment, because coatings can pollute the atmosphere when broken down during recycling.
The look of stainless steel is great for a modern or retro d
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