Veneers are a thin material used to cover a surface. This can be for aesthetic or protective reasons. Veneers are commonly used in home building, furniture manufacturing and dentistry. Veneers are occasionally used in jewelry and auto manufacturing.
Veneers were first developed by the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptian culture prized the aesthetic of wood, but wood was a scarce commodity. To maximize the use of logs they were sawed into very thin boards. These boards were used to cover other surfaces that were not made of wood to give the appearance that the structure was made of wood. Egyptians also used veneers of ebony and ivory to decorate funerary items.
Wood veneers are very common in modern furniture and are often associated with cheap or shoddy construction. New super-thin veneers do not have the durability needed to withstand years of use. However, quality furnishings are still being produced using veneers. Veneered finishes can be found, in excellent condition, on furnishings hundreds of years old. It is the thickness and quality of the veneer material and the precision and quality of the application that determines if a veneer will add value to a furnishing over time.
Veneers are often used to conserve more expensive exotic woods. Furnishings are constructed using cheaper local woods then a thin layer of exotic or expensive wood is glued over the local wood. Veneers are also used as means to utilize interesting wood grain patterns like swirls and knots which, though aesthetically pleasing, make the wood unstable for construction.
Stone and Masonry Veneers
Stone and masonry veneers are common in home construction. To give a home the look of being constructed with stone or brick a thin veneer of stone or brick is placed on top of other construction materials. This can, in some instances, greatly reduced the cost in building a "stone" or "brick" home and allows the homeowner the flexibility of being able to later repair and maintain the finish without substantial reconstruction. Brick and stone veneers are also useful in places where a stone or brick finish is desired but the existing structure can not bear the weight of them.
Dental veneers, like wood and stone veneers, are thin layers of material used to cover another surface. In this case the surface is the natural tooth. Dental veneers can improve the aesthetics of a smile or can provide strength and protection to damaged tooth enamel. Dental veneers require little tooth preparation, leaving the natural tooth largely intact should the veneer ever have to be removed. Veneers can also be used to give teeth a more even, uniform, appearance or to hide chips. Veneers are often made of composite materials or porcelain.
Aside from home construction, furniture and dentistry, veneers are used for other products. Jewelry often incorporates veneers in the form of wood, stone, gemstone and glass. Cars may have wood veneered dashboard or sideboards.
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