Why wood furniture is so expensive? A breakdown

If you’ve ever bought furniture, talked with someone who has purchased furniture, we can bet you’ve asked yourself, “why is wood furniture so expensive?”

What even is high-quality wood furniture? It’s no secret that you can find inexpensive “wood” furniture more readily now than ever before. It may look good, it may feel good, it may even come from a store with a neat aesthetic. Ultimately, though, inexpensive furniture isn’t going to last, and that means you may end up paying more in the long run.

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What are the three main types of “wood” used in furniture?

There are, essentially, three types of “wood” used in furniture: Solid wood, particleboard or MDF, and plywood.

Within these categories, there are high quality and lower quality versions which ultimately will affect the long-term durability of the furniture and the price.

Solid wood is a natural resource that we come by organically rather than through a manufacturing process. Solid wood can be either hardwood or softwood. No surprise, hardwoods are stronger and have a higher density than softwoods.

Typical hardwoods found in high-quality wood furniture are:

Oak

Cherry

Maple

Walnut

Birch

Typical softwoods are:

Pine

Poplar

Rubberwood.

Hardwoods grow at a slower rate and are more fire resistant than softwoods, making them more scarce to harvest and more desirable for high-quality goods.

Another factor in the price of hardwood comes from the fact we are only using the best parts of the tree – the heartwood – the central core of the tree where the rich color tones and core strength come from.

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Solid wood furniture is expensive because it lasts

With solid wood, what you see is what you get. It’s wood – nothing more or less. As a result, you can sand or stain it. Nothing will fall apart or peal. Unlike laminate or veneer, when it shows wear it appears to add character. Think of furniture with a weathered look. It isn’t uncommon to treat brand new furniture with that weathered look to add a desirable shabby chic look to it.

Solid wood is much more durable. Its lengthy lifespan can make an heirloom of it. Unlike veneer or laminated furniture, solid wood living room furniture can someday last to become an antique if maintained reasonably well.

Solid wood is an investment that can pay for itself several times over because of its longevity.

Wood Furniture Designs

For good or for worse, the most important design icons of our time didn’t work with cost (or mass-production) in mind. They focused on detail and originality and craftsmanship; like high-fashion couture, their designs have trickled down into mass-market production after some time, but not with the same top-quality construction. Good original design – and by good design, we mean design that it looks good and feels good, marrying form and function – will cost more than their dupes do.

Good furniture is an investment, we know. We hope that after reading this article you understand why: how craftsmanship and attention to detail cost more than mass-manufactured goods, and how extra steps that may be more costly result in a more durable (and often, more functional) product.