Shivaji Mohinta: How to Select Right Veneer

Surfaces reporter spoke to veneer expert, Shivaji Mohinta, country head, decorative veneers, Greenlam Industries Ltd., who provided us with valuable advice on how to purchase a good wood veneer.
Shivaji Mohinta, Country Head of Decorative Veneer of Greenlam Industries Limited

Just as every tree has its own character, every wood veneer is unique and lend a characteristic style to your decor. While we all vouch for the undeniable beauty of wood veneers, still there are only few who really ‘understand’ a veneer. There are many considerations while buying a good quality decorative veneer.

Decorative Natural Veneer

In this regard, surfaces reporter spoke to veneer expert, Shivaji Mohinta, country head, decorative veneers, Greenlam Industries Ltd., who provided us with valuable advice on how to purchase a good wood veneer.

Choosing A Good Veneer

Choosing a good veneer is a herculean task that often involves hours of looking at the right wood species that is going to match your overall decor. Just as every tree has its own character, so does every individual sheet of veneer. When veneer is cut from a log, the manufacturers are very careful to stack each sheet in the same order as it comes off the log. If this care was not taken, and the sheets were stacked randomly, you would be unable to select and purchase two or more sheets almost identical. This is especially important if you need to join two or more sheets together to create a wide matched panel. However, even matching sheets have some variation in grain and colour. Whatever your source of supply, make sure the supplier offers consecutively sliced sheets of veneer.

Decorative Natural Veneer

There have been cases when wood veneer samples are taken from the previous inventories and hence there are chances that they don’t match the current inventory which is being supplied to you. Hence,  always make sure to check the samples that belong to the same inventory.

Understanding the veneer terminology is a must whenever you are buying the wood veneer. It is true that not everybody can be an expert, however; you are more likely to get the veneer you want if you understand the look of standard cuts, the figure “types” in many exotic woods, and also the matching patterns such as a book, slip, random, pleasing and end etc.

Also, many-a-times, wood veneers are graded into the product category including Furniture, Doors and Panels. So make sure to check the grades as per the usage while buying the veneer. Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) has also given some guidelines for commercial and decorative veneers that can be referred in case of any confusion.

Our section expert, Shivaji Mohinta says, “Selecting a perfect veneer is essentially dependent on 6T’s, here is how we at Decowood define it.”

Tree:  You need to consider the source/ land of origin of the tree which should be from responsible forest sources- FSC /PEFC certified. The grain patterns, growth rings are influenced by the terrain where the tree is grown. So one should definitely look at which species the veneer is made of as the quality is highly dependent on specie and origin.

Type:  Before purchase one should be aware of grade of veneer; which means influence the quality of veneer to a large extent in terms of natural defects like knots, mineral streaks, decay, cracks etc.. Decowood provides A+ grade of veneers with the best of substrate which plays a key role in determining the final appeal. The inherent beauty of the veneers is strongly dependent on the grade of veneers. Again one needs to distinguish between Natural Veneers & Reconstituted Veneers.

Thickness: The thickness of both the face veneers & the back plywood ensures the durability of the product. Durability is directly proportional to the thickness of the face veneers. A lot of under-thickness products are available in the market which can fool the innocent customers with pricing.

Texture: The value additions in terms of Distressed, Oxidization, Sandblast, HDBX, UV hand painted etc., create a lasting visual impression on the outcome. The artistic work done on the veneers can spell a mystic charm on the interiors.

Tone: Tone depends on the type of species & the way wood logs are sawn. The original species lends a unique tone & character to the veneers rather than look-alike/cheaper species.

Treatment: Wood is a natural resource should be fully treated before and after manufacturing the veneer. We at Decowood ensure every wood is thoroughly kiln dried and treated with chemicals so as to withstand the environmental issues like termites. Not just that, all Decowood veneers undergo patented treatment called TD technology wherein they are exposed and cured with special chemicals lending the product the benefits like better dimensional stability. Also, this enhances the grain pattern with the increased refractive index of veneer surface.

Mistakes that One Must Avoid

More often, even experts to tend to make mistakes while choosing the right veneer. There are common mistakes that must be avoided in case you want to enjoy your veneer decor completely. The first and foremost important thing is always to keep a little room for mistakes, which means, always buy a little more than what you
need as in case something goes wrong.

Decorative Natural Veneer

It is very difficult to match the specific colour and grain pattern of the veneer to complete a job. Also, often people get intimidated by the higher prices and rather opt for a lower quality veneer or vendor. Every project has opportunities to save a little money on lower grade veneers. Areas such as shelves, backs, insides and undersides of cabinets and furniture don’t always require premium wood veneer. Spend money for premium veneers only on the highly visible areas. However, never compromise on the quality of veneer.

Mr. Mohinta feels that customers are generally misled in terms of pricing but one needs to look at the value that they are getting in return. Investment in surfacing product is a long-term bet & it makes a statement about the occupants. Therefore, the incremental pricing factor needs to be viewed as a saving in terms of operational expenditure. Price should not be the only distinguishing feature but overall benefits & returns should be taken into account prior the purchase decision.

Another mistake, he pointed out is shortchanging on the type of polish that is used for the veneers. One needs to use good quality branded polish materials & a skilled polisher. The analogy is, that for a good car you require good quality fuel & a skilled driver.”

“Lastly, the purchase of veneers should be done under the guidance of an expert who understands the nuances of this product, be it, Architect or Interior Designer from an authorized trade partner who can fulfill all the commitments. Branded products with high reliability & installed base should be the major deciding factors. “One should remember that the veneer chosen for interiors can last a lifetime but the mantra is to get that right!” he concluded.


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