Insider's Guide to Furniture & the Home Furnishings Industry

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What do furniture companies mean when they say their products have "hardwood solids?"

Terminology in the furniture industry can be very flexible and can vary among different manufacturers.

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The term "hardwood solids" is usually used when the manufacturer either does not want to list the specific wood species, when multiple species are used or when a combination of hardwoods and other "engineered" woods (particle board, fiberboard or others) are used. Some manufacturers use the term to describe hardwood plywood.

To further complicate the issue there are different wood grades and quality levels that are rarely detailed. For example plywood may have anywhere from 3 plies (layers) up to 15 or more and can range in thickness from 1/4″ to 1.5″.

Solid woods also come in different grades. For example #2 common lumber will have far more splits, knotholes and warpage than #1 or select grade. Kiln-drying is another important factor with solid woods.

A “solid hardwood" sofa frame should be all solid wood, but the species can vary from Poplar which is very lightweight and not particularly strong to Maple which is very strong and easy to work with to Oak which is harder but more prone to splitting to Hickory which is so hard that most manufacturers don’t want anything to do with it.

In general the term “hardwood solids” gives very little information about the quality of a piece of furniture. It may be either better or worse than plywood or engineered woods depending upon the quality of the material,the application it is being used for and the skill of the furniture builder.

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  1. Charles O'Neill Charles O'Neill Very informative. Tuesday, March 6, 2018

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