Laminates and veneers are popular for interior use because of their low cost, ease of maintenance and wide variety of looks both materials are available in.
Veneers are thinly sliced layers of wood that are glued onto plywood to give furniture, doors or architectural elements of a space the appearance of being solid wood. Laminates are thin layers of material that are bonded together to make a durable sheet to be applied to surfaces such as countertops, cabinets and floors.
Popular types of wood veneer include oak, cherry, maple and birch. High-end manufacturers typically use rare woods such as teak, ebony and mahogany. Laminates are available in a variety of materials, including plastic, plywood, wood and metal.
Wood veneers afford many variations in construction. A piece can be created from a solid, stable material and then wood veneer glued to the surface to enhance its aesthetic appearance. Laminates are generally praised for their easy maintenance and stability.
Rare and exotic woods can be cost-prohibitive. By slicing veneers from the lumber of these rare woods, beautiful furniture, panels and features for a space can be created at a much more affordable price with the benefit of an exotic appearance. While a real granite countertop may cost $50 and up per square foot, laminate that looks like granite can be purchased for as low as $3 per square foot.
Wood veneers are easily maintained by regularly oiling the surface with an oil soap. Laminates are easy to maintain with an all-purpose cleaner.