5 Ways To Identify Quality Furniture (Timber vs Chipboard)

By B2C Furniture · 29/07/2018

The most common question we get asked by our customers at B2C Furniture is “how can you assess quality furniture?” and “What is the difference between our furniture and that of other retailers?”  

For the untrained eye, all furniture can, to some degree, look the same. So, how to differentiate between higher quality items from the cheaper materials. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy as thinking that small price tags equal cheaper quality and high prices equal better quality. Here are some tips for assessing the quality of furniture as you shop.

Obviously when it comes to purchasing furniture, in addition to aesthetics, quality is one of the biggest factors. Most furniture items are bought to last you 10+ years, so it is incredibly important that the furniture is high quality, durable and built to last.

1. Choose Furniture Built From Solid Timber Frames

The quality of wooden furniture can be generally divided into three key areas - the composition of the wood, how the item has been constructed, and how the product has been finished.

Wood composition

The starting point when determining the quality of your furniture is wood composition. There are generally three main types of wood found in furniture construction - solid wood, plywood and engineered wood (chipboard or particleboard).

The strongest by far is solid timber. Many manufacturers have these days switched to cheaper chipboard to reduce the costs of production, however it is still possible to find solid timber furniture at an affordable price. As an example, all B2C Furniture including Living, Dining & Bedroom Furniture are made using solid hardwood timber frames.

As a simple rule, the best wood is solid wood followed by plywood and then engineered wood or chipboard (cheapest).

2. How To Distinguish Between Solid Wood And Chipboard

How to Distinguish Between Solid Wood and Chipboard

Look out for the different types of woods when you shop:

Image reference mcmahons.ie

This is an example of solid timber. The easy way to visually tell solid timber apart from both chipboard and plywood is the natural grains throughout. You won’t see a layered or particle effect - it’s literally just one piece of solid timber.

Image reference wikipedia.org

This is an example of Plywood. As you can see, plywood is made by layering numerous pieces to create a sturdier piece of wood. Never purchase the item if there is less than 9 layers - this is the minimum to ensure a solid and more durable piece of furniture.

Image reference pavcoind.com

Finally, an example of chipboard. This is by far the worst material to use when it comes to furniture. It is not as durable and is more prone to dents and damages. The covering veneer is also prone to lifting and bubbling depending on temperature conditions or if liquid is spilt on it. It’s easy to tell chipboard as the interior (beneath the backing veneer sheets) is made from lots of small pieces of timber.

3. Pay Attention To The Construction Of The Furniture

Pay Attention to the Construction of the Furniture

Now that you have an understanding of the type of wood to look for, next you need to assess the construction of the furniture. As a general rule, you should rule out furniture held together with staples or glue (especially if you can see the glue!). The better types of joins will be made using dowels (wooden pegs) or screws.

When looking at storage units with backs facing the wall, the backing is just as important as the front of the unit. Solid timber again is a winner for a sturdy back. Look for a sturdy and well-fitted back. Also check any drawers fit well with glides that move smoothly and effortlessly. One simple way to test sturdiness is to gentle try to rock the piece. If you hear squeaks or if it twists or wobbles, the quality probably isn’t to the standard required for years of use.

4. Pay Attention To The Finish

Pay Attention to the Finish

Finally, look for a good finish. All good quality furniture will spend time ensuring the finish of their items is second to none. A good quality finish will provide depth of colour and accentuate the natural grains of the wood.

For lasting protection, the furniture should be sealed with a high quality & durable top coat sealer to prevent dirt, grease, stains etc absorbing into the timber.  It also makes it easy to clean and keeps the furniture looking good.

Avoid furniture build with chipboard & finished with a veneer covering.  The finish initially looks good aesthetically but leads to the veneer “peeling” shortly after its delivered – especially if there are liquid is spilt on it. 

This type of furniture is synonymous with the big name (larger chain) brands who build furniture for the mass market.

5. Why You Can’t Assess On Price

Why You Can't Assess On Price

Traditionally, solid wood furniture held a much higher price tag and was therefore easier to tell apart from the cheaper manufactured plywood or chipboard. This is no longer the case. The reason behind this is best explained through an understanding of the manufacturing to customer process.

Most furniture retailers (particularly larger chain stores) purchase their furniture from overseas manufacturers. As they don’t manufacture the furniture themselves, to make a profit on any item sold, they need to first charge the cost of manufacture and then add their mark-up to sell to the customer. The numerous middle-men involved (shipping, storage, delivery etc) means that the mark-up needs to be substantial for the business to profit.

On the flip side, furniture stores such as B2C Furniture cut out the “middle-man” and sell direct to public. While the quality of the furniture is often of a better quality than the more “mass-produced” furniture for chain stores, the prices are often on-par or in majority of the case far less as they don’t need to add the mark-ups on the furniture due to having “less hands in the pie.”

Why B2C Furniture?

Why B2C Furniture?

B2C Furniture uses solid hardwood timber frames in the construction of all our furniture. In addition to this, we cut out the “middle-man” and sell direct to public, you can easily pick up solid timber furniture from us for far less than the plywood or chipboard counterparts you’ll find at other furniture chains.

As well as using sturdy solid timber in construction, our experienced craftsmen use numerous of coats of paint and stained finishes using a rigorous application process that provides depth of colour and enhances the natural wood grain of the furniture. For lasting protection, all of our furniture is then sealed and applied with a top coat lacquer to prevent dirt, grease, stains etc absorbing into the timber.  It also makes it easy to clean and keeps the furniture looking good.

When it comes to furniture, we believe that quality matched with beautiful aesthetics are key - and we’ve put these into every item produced. Take a look at our online store www.b2cfurniture.com.au or visit our showroom at 94 Frankston – Dandenong Rd, Dandenong South 3175, VICTORIA; you won’t be disappointed!

In summary, the mission of our business is to cut out the middle-man and provide high quality, aesthetically beautiful furniture direct to public at unbelievably affordable prices.

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