Solid Wood vs Fiberboards: Which is Best for Furniture?

Solid wood is the new name of natural timber material introduced at the advent of synthetic fiberboards like MDF. The name seeks to differentiate timber materials that are entirely natural from fiberboards which are wood fibers glued together with synthetic compounds in an engineering process.

While solid wood has traditionally been used for furniture making for centuries, the rise of fiberboards in recent times is challenging this norm, prompting the debate as to which of them is better and which of them carpenters and furniture makers should continue with. This very debate has been raging among our very own experienced carpenters, and though no clear winner is in sight, we were able to write down some very valid points from both sides.  But first, let’s look at the solid woods and fiberboards popular among furniture makers in Nigeria today.

Solid Wood Species Used for Furniture Making in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s location in the tropics with abundance of sunshine means that we have lots of nice solid wood species that are splendid for furniture making. These include both hardwood and softwood. While some are sought for their beauty, others are sought for their strength. A good number of woods used in furniture making in Nigeria are also sought for their resistance to insect attack and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions. The most popular of these wood species are:

1. Iroko.

Iroko is a premium hardwood highly sought for their toughness and resistance to insect attack. Iroko is milled from the logs of tropical Iroko tree that is found across West and Central Africa.

Iroko is referred to as African Teak in some corners, a name it owes to it’s yellowish hue and beautiful grain patterns, features that it shares with another premium hardwood specie named Teak.

2. Teak

Teak is unarguably one of the most popular wood for furniture in Nigeria and elsewhere. It’s established to be very popular in the making of all kinds of solid wood furniture, wood flooring, Pergola and outdoor shades, wood handrails, etc. It’s also hunted for export. Unfortunately, owing to this high desirability, Teak is harvested prematurely by growers, leading to availability in the market of wood that lacks most of the features it’s priced high for.
Teak is marked for its beautiful grains and textures, its strength, and its resistance to insect attack.

3. Mahogany

Mahogany hardwood is one of the most popular hardwood species in Nigeria. It is characterized by rich, brown-red color and striped look.
Mahogany wood is also known for its hardness and long-life. It is an eye-catchy wood, which is very durable and lasts a lifetime.

4. Mansonia

Mansonia Wood is cut from tropical Mansonia tree. It is characterized by a yellow brown or dark gray brown heartwood, frequently with a purplish cast, often showing light and dark bands; and a whitish, sharply demarcated sapwood.

Mansonia has fine to medium texture, generally straight grain patterns, and low to medium luster.

Mansonia is referred to as African walnut in the US because of its resemblance of the American black walnut. It’s highly sought for its beauty and durability by furniture makers.

Advantages of solid wood for furniture making.

1. Durability

As noted in the description of some solid wood types above, solid wood is extremely durable. It is designed to stand the test of time and can easily outlast competition. Wood used for furniture are heavy and sturdy materials, so are unlikely to tip or sustain any detrimental damage over time. And even when a solid wood furniture does get scratched or dented, it’s very simple to perform repairs by sanding and refinishing.

2. Beauty!

There’s no other way to say this! Solid wood is extremely gorgeous. Nothing beats the natural grains and textures of solid wood. Makers of alternative materials for furniture recognize this, which is why they have been expending lots of effort to copy the appearance of solid wood yet solid wood has remained the standard. 

Solid wood furniture carries impressionable charm, character, and elegance in its appearance.

3. High value

Wood furniture is a thing of value. Although you might pay more for a piece of Wooden furniture, your gain will be obvious in the long run.

Every wood is unique owing to their unique grains and textures. You will still be able to modify the appearance of a solid wood furniture in the long run if the original finishing no longer looks fashionable to you. And an overused piece of solid furniture can still be made into wood flooring or wooden staircase accessories. These are some of the reasons why solid wood has remained the best choice material for furniture.

Weaknesses of solid wood in furniture making.

1. Solid wood is expensive.

Solid wood timber costs a lot and the making of solid wood furniture is an even costlier venture. Alternative materials like MDF easily defeats solid wood when it comes to affordability.

2. Solid wood can be damaged by water.

These particular weakness of solid wood is why it’s not a popular in the making of kitchen cabinets where water is always going to be an issue.o

3. Solid wood reacts poorly to extreme weather conditions.

This include both heat and cold weather conditions.

4. Solid wood can be destroyed by insects.

Although some wood species do well in resisting insect attacks, a large percentage still fall victims of termites, woodworms and other pest infestations. 

What are Fiberboards?

Fiberboards are engineered wood made through the application of heat and pressure to wood fibers. There are basically two types of fiberboards used for furniture making in Nigeria. These are:

A. Medium Density Fiberboards (MDF)

B. High Density Fiberboards (HDF).

The Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is the fiberboard popular in the making of doors and furniture in Nigeria, so we will zero in our discussion to the characters of MDF and how it compares to solid wood.

What is MDF?

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is made by compressing fine-grained wood fibers with glue. It differs from High Density Fiberboard (HDF) in it’s glue composition and production method. The MDF is wildly used in furniture making in Nigeria. It’s competitively priced and easy to work with.

Why the MDF is Great for Furniture Making.

A. Affordability.

MDF is mass-produced from wood residuals in production lines in factories. This makes their price cheap.

B. Smooth surface.

MDF has neither knots not kinks, so has smooth and level surface which is desirable in furniture making.

C. Resistance to insect attack.

Unlike most solid wood, MDF is resistant to insect attack.

D. Easy to work with.

The Medium Density Fiberboard has excellent machining character. It’s easy to work with because of its density.

Weaknesses of the MDF in Furniture Making.

A. Less durable than wood.

The Medium Density Fiberboard doesn’t last long like solid wood.

B. Low resistance to moisture.

MDF absorbs water so fast, so little exposure can lead to swelling and damage.

C. Not as beautiful as wood.

MDF still can’t match the beauty of solid wood. Though manufacturers have been putting all they can to make this possible, solid wood has remained the standard that everyone looks up to when it comes to good look.

Conclusion. MDF is cheap. Solid Wood is Stylish!

Solid wood furniture is worth the investment! No matter what house or apartment you live in, a piece of wooden furniture would benefit the overall aesthetic. With proper care, this furniture can last for generations to come and its value will only go up, saving you money on costly replacement.

If you’re serious about stylish home decor, then start shopping for your solid wood furniture on Wood Willing. Our solid wood products include furniture, wood flooring, wood staircase and railing components, pergola, wood ceiling, solid wood doors and partitions, etc.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Basket
Scroll to Top