The compelling question of material composition and what you need to consider
“That can be the problem with having choices and options – it makes it easier to choose the wrong one.”
Perhaps that’s a pessimist view of things but in the work of architectural, commercial interior or healthcare facility design, there is a very real and pressing need to make the right selections when choosing furniture solutions and their compositions.
If the furniture solutions you select look aesthetically pleasing, brand-fit and functional, and they are fit for purpose, you should feel good about the fact that two of the three requisite boxes have been filled. The third box, however, relates to:
Adaptability – They say that a solution’s value is multiplied by the number of purposes it serves… or how many problems it can solve – that’s important, let’s look at that later.
Durability – How much wear and tear comes into play here? What is the required lifespan of the furniture? There are two pressing and important questions to consider.
Affordability – Everything is relative, so quantity, purpose, and budget also come into play here.
Understanding these questions, and more importantly, identifying the applicable answers will help achieve the best results for clients across both the commercial and healthcare environments. So, let’s look at the options based on needs, applications and costs.
Solid timber is a solid option if…
There is a line of thinking that suggests that solid timber is the sensible option because it screams quality, looks good and is durable – and all those things are true. A solid timber selection carries with it that genuine warmth and individuality we come to expect and enjoy – it’s unique, it looks and feels authentic because it is all those things. But aside from those advantages, solid timber options can be refurbished if damaged at a fraction of the cost of replacement as they can be sanded, re-treated, and repaired. Obviously, longevity is a huge plus and many pieces come with a 10+ year guarantee.
However, it’s also important to consider factors such as availability. Now, in Victoria, solid timber furniture solutions are crafted from Victorian Ash or Oak; however, as is the case with other species of timber, productions and options are subject to availability. Also, timber being timber, damage can be sustained when exposed to high heat levels as well as nicks and scratches from utensils and the like. Finally, there’s the expense which is always a consideration. Solid timber is more expensive that other options and so again, it’s important to weigh up and balance priorities including longevity and fit for purpose.
So, solid timber is a solid option for healthcare dining facilities, chairs, tables and bedside cabinets as well as the high-end boardroom options and executive requirements.
Timber veneer offers versatility and a slice of authenticity
What exactly is a timber veneer? In brief, it’s a thinly sliced layer of timber that is pressed onto MDF or particle board substrate. The resulting effect is that of an authentic timber look and feel at a lower cost. In terms of adaptability, timber veneers cover a lot of ground because they are available in a variety of species and grain directions and can be stained to match other pieces, components, and features. Still on adaptability, the flexibility allows for application to architectural curves because it can be bent to the requirements of various designs.
With that said, there are a couple of “watch-outs”. For all of timber veneer’s adaptability, it is still very much susceptible to water damage and scratches. It is not recommended for use in heavy traffic areas, dining (again due to the problem of liquids and scratching from utensils) but is ideal for other purposes. Boardroom tables, bookshelves and joinery, executive offices and the like are ideal for timber veneer due to lower traffic and decreased need to vigilantly avoid damage from liquids.
Laminate, a cover-all solution for all heavy-duty requirements
It’s decorative, hard-wearing, and durable but why? As a single- or multi-layer application, laminate is resin-forced with thermo-setting resins and glued to a substrate to form the extremely versatile option that is used across heavy-duty traffic areas. Laminate is liquid- and scratch-resistant which makes it the ideal choice for tabletops in healthcare dining rooms and general cafeteria settings.
In terms of look, laminate is available in literally hundreds of colours, patterns, and finishes which allows a lot of aesthetic flexibility and the ability to look a little deeper into design options. If there is a criticism of this, one of the more affordable options, it is the fact that the repetitive, patterned designs lack that air of authenticity available in solid timbers and veneers.
Arriving at the best answer means asking the right questions but also knowing a bit more about the available options. With three decades of answering these kinds of questions and providing furniture solutions that result in the best possible results under our belt, we would welcome any enquiry you may wish to pursue as you address the requirements of your next project.