Table Talk: Beyond Solid Wood - Choosing the Perfect Dining Table

Is This Dining Table Solid Wood? What You Really Need to Ask

As an interior designer with a background in biotechnology, I often find myself bridging the gap between the technical and the aesthetic when helping clients choose the perfect furniture. One question I frequently hear in the store is, "Is this dining table solid wood?" It's a great question, but it only scratches the surface of what you really need to know. When it comes to selecting a dining table, understanding the difference between solid wood, real wood veneer, and paper veneer can significantly impact your decision. Each type has its own pros and cons, especially when considering a formal dining room setting versus an everyday kitchen table.

Solid Wood: Timeless Elegance and Durability


  • Longevity and Durability: Solid wood tables are known for their strength and durability. They can withstand years of use and can often be refinished to look new again.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: The natural beauty of wood grain is unmatched. Each piece is unique, adding character and warmth to your dining room.
  • Sustainability: If sourced responsibly, solid wood can be an environmentally friendly choice. Reputable manufacturers often use wood from sustainably managed forests.


  • Cost: Solid wood tables are typically more expensive due to the cost of materials and craftsmanship.
  • Maintenance: They can require more maintenance to protect against scratches, dents, and stains. Regular polishing and occasional refinishing might be necessary. With significant temperature and humidity changes, they can warp.
  • Weight: Solid wood furniture is typically heavy, making it difficult to move.

Real Wood Veneer: Beauty and Affordability


  • Cost-Effective-sometimes: Real wood veneer tables offer the beauty of wood at a lower price point. A thin layer of real wood is applied over a core of less expensive material.
  • Appearance: They look very similar to solid wood tables because the outer layer is genuine wood. In fact, beautiful, intricate designs can be created with different cuts and species of woods that cannot be achieved with solid wood. This can also sometimes increase the price.
  • Stability: Veneer surfaces are less prone to warping or cracking, as the core material can offer greater stability than solid wood.


  • Durability: While more durable than paper veneer, real wood veneer is still more susceptible to damage than solid wood. Deep scratches can be difficult to repair. If the veneer is compromised, water can also get in between the veneer and core product and wreak havoc, creating often irreparable damage.
  • Limited Refinishing: Unlike solid wood, veneer can only be refinished a limited number of times before the thin wood layer is worn through.
  • Value: Veneer tables may not hold their value as well as solid wood tables over time.

Paper Veneer: Economical and Versatile


  • Affordability: Paper veneer is the most cost-effective option, making it accessible for budget-conscious buyers.
  • Variety: Available in a wide range of designs and finishes, paper veneer can mimic the appearance of various wood types and other materials.
  • Lightweight: These tables are generally lighter and easier to move.


  • Durability: Paper veneer is the least durable option. It's more prone to scratches, dents, and peeling, especially in high-traffic areas.
  • Maintenance: Any damage to the veneer is often irreparable, meaning the table might need to be replaced sooner.
  • Aesthetic: While paper veneer can look convincing from a distance, it lacks the depth and richness of real wood.

Choosing the Right Table for Your Space

Formal Dining Room: For a formal dining room, where the table serves as the centerpiece and is used for special occasions, investing in a solid wood or high-quality real wood veneer table is advisable. The durability and timeless beauty of these materials can elevate the room's elegance and provide long-lasting satisfaction.

Everyday Kitchen Table: In a kitchen setting where the table endures daily use, a real wood veneer table offers a practical balance of beauty and durability without the high cost of solid wood. For budget-friendly and lightweight options, a paper veneer table might be suitable, especially if you’re open to replacing it more frequently.

Final Thoughts

When shopping for a dining table, the real question isn’t just whether it’s solid wood, but rather understanding the type of wood used—be it solid wood, real wood veneer, or paper veneer. Each material has its own set of advantages and considerations. By knowing the pros and cons of each, you can make an informed decision that fits both your aesthetic desires and functional needs.

Remember, the best choice depends on your specific requirements, lifestyle, and budget. Feel free to ask any questions when you're in the store—I'm here to help guide you through the process!

Happy Shopping, Amanda