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What's The Main Difference Between Solid Oak & Engineered Oak (Veneered Oak)?

This is not a new question - or a new innovation - in fact, the ancient Egyptians take the credit for the first evidence of veneered construction techniques. The manufacturing techniques for engineered oak have developed to the point that it's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between solid oak and veneered oak unless you are close up looking at the two. Veneering is a process applied to engineered doors and many types of furniture - the inside of the door is normally constructed using cheaper types of wood before applying a layer of veneer to the outer shell.

A Big Difference...

The biggest difference is that solid oak is 100% oak throughout, and engineered oak doors are put through a factory process by slicing thin sheets of wood then applying the sheets to a door or furniture with strong adhesive with a finish and look of solid wood. Solid oak ages and weathers with time whereas engineered oak retains its fresh look.

There are cost differences too; a solid oak door will be more expensive to buy and will need to be treated and maintained,  so costs for varnishes or oils should be considered before buying. Solid oak can warp or crack over time due to atmospheric conditions being too damp or dry. Another difference is the weight difference; solid oak is heavy whereas engineered oak doors are not normally as heavy.


Even though engineered oak doors are not 100% oak they are a good sustainable method to update your home. If you look around your home you'll probably find a veneered wood product of some type; a lot of kitchen cabinet doors and wardrobes are normally veneered. Laminate flooring is a good example for cost differences between solid and engineered wood.   A solid oak floor will be far more expensive than a laminate oak floor. Engineered wood products are more convenient and easier to live with, because they can be cleaned using a damp cloth or wood polish.

Up until the 1930's veneers were less than perfect because the adhesives used to bind the veneer did not hold too well, but even then veneer was desired & considered to be more beautiful than natural wood because of the symmetrical figure and wood grain patterns veneer offered. Very few people could afford veneered products at that time but since the advances in technology prices have dropped considerably. Today nearly 80% of wood production in all price ranges use veneer in their products and furniture.

You Decide

It's just not cost effective to carve a large piece of furniture out of a tree - even if the diameter of the tree is sufficient. This is why enginnered oak doors are a good and sustainable option. Veneers can be curved and shaped in many directions allowing furniture to take various shapes and sizes. In the end it comes down to personal preference and taste. But with an increasing global population and demand for wood rising, engineered oak doors seem to be a viable option.