Wood Veneer vs Laminate for a Modern Hospitality Furniture Design

wood veneer vs. laminate

Differences of opinion and preference are common when it comes to deciding between laminate and wood veneer for modern hospitality furniture. Ultimately, it’s important to let your project’s scale and long-term needs dictate the choice.

Wood Veneer vs Laminate Hotel Furniture: A Matter of Guest Perspective

It’s true, you’re more likely to find veneer furniture in a 4-star or greater hotel. With its rich, “homey” look and feel, it tends to be a more natural fit for upscale establishments. Patrons of these higher-end hotels also often demand this aesthetic and experience because they are paying premium for their stay. 

But will this always be the trend? Industry experts say the tangible differences between laminate and wood veneer have grown more subtle through the years. 

"Nowadays, you walk into a hotel room and have to look pretty hard to tell if it’s laminate or veneer. I can’t tell sometimes. That’s how good laminates are getting. They have texture and depth. In the end, that gap is really closing.”-- Michael Calimeri, Artone President

Laminate Hotel Furniture

Laminate is a man-made product comprising synthetic and natural materials (usually many layers of kraft paper saturated with phenolic resin and pressed under extreme pressure). It’s durable and tends to be heat- and scratch-resistant, making it a great long-term investment that’s easier to care for. It's also easier to produce laminate products, so the price of laminate furniture is usually more economical. 

While it’s still subject to some wear experienced at every hotel and with every piece of furniture over time, its synthetic properties typically last much longer than the average 8-year hotel renovation cycle. 

With so many laminate options available, you can choose value engineering to be more cost effective and improve future upkeep to best serve and delight your guests. Keep in mind, the staff also must work around and with the furniture long after your hotel project is done. A durable product that’s easy to maneuver, clean, and maintain is ideal.

Wood Veneer Hotel Furniture

Wood veneer is a thin layer of genuine hardwood (usually around .6mm). Typically, veneer is bonded, or glued with adhesive, to a less-expensive surface. Because it’s a natural material, veneer has a richer and more varied look. 

More effort goes into constructing veneer pieces, so they are usually priced higher than laminate alternatives. 

As the boutique/themed hotel market continues to grow, hoteliers and designers alike strive to come up with “the next big design trend” to remain competitive in their market. This goal and philosophy often includes wood veneer. Using this century-old woodworking technique can help give their design the unique look and feel guests crave.

An experienced hospitality furniture vendor should recognize, respect, and accommodate these demands. To better to serve this market dichotomy, we recently invested in a new Cefla Flatline Finishing system, which will improve current (traditional spray booth) wood veneer finishing processes. 

“The new equipment will allow us to be competitive in our pricing of finished casegoods. For us, it’s about being more efficient and environmentally friendly. It’s a state-of-the-art finishing line that we feel is one of the best out there and we are excited to be able to offer this improved (more competitive) process to our current and future customers.” -- Michael Calimeri, Artone President

The Choice: Wood Veneer vs. Laminate Furniture

Though there have been great strides made in world of laminate, there is still a big demand for new furniture designs in veneer. Both are valuable options, given the size and scope of your hotel project. 

Laminate is a durable choice with ever-expanding styles and colors. Wood veneer is also a strong, upscale choice for the most genuine look and feel, short of solid hardwood.

Related reading: 8 Supply Chain Benefits of Domestic Hotel Furniture

Hotel Furniture Production Timeline eBook - Artone