Veneers – thin slices carved-out from the stem or even the bark of a tree – are often touted as the eco-friendly alternative to solid hardwood. However, veneer application can be a tricky business, even for the connoisseurs of the trade. Don’t let your worries wander anymore. The #SurfacesReporter team, through interactions with some of the major veneer brands and architects, is glad to bring a few exclusive tips and tricks on the process of applying the favoured material.
The foremost job is to decide which application method one wishes to opt for. “There are many different ways for applying wood veneers and the four most common methods are hammer veneering, veneering with hydraulic press, veneering with a vacuum press and veneering with contact cement”, says Ar Raja, Founder, Raja Architects, Hyderabad. Though all these methods follow the almost similar dos and don’ts’ for their application procedure, one needs to be extra careful, right from start to finish in order to get the best results out.
Storing the Veneer Properly
One should also keep the product (veneer) to be applied in an appropriate environment as to further make them ‘application-ready’. “Before installation, the veneer should be allowed to “climatize” with the substrate in the same environment for about a minimum of 48 hours”, Ar Raja adds. He also advises that it would be best to finish the veneer when the humidity is less than 51% to prevent it from absorbing unnecessary moisture. Though, no matter how hard we try, at times even the best of protocols mess-up. So in case, you skipped the above step and could not prevent your sheet from absorbing moisture,
Ar Shantanu Garg, Founder, Shantanu Garg Design, Jaipur has a remedy for your soggy/loose veneer problems. “You can repair the loose veneer without cracking it or causing any damage by placing the hot iron on a moist cloth on the veneer so that the veneer could be released easily,” says Ar Garg.
Choosing the Right Adhesive
Due precautions should be taken in terms of choosing the right type of adhesive that allows the material to stick-on for a longer time. Architects make sure to pick only the best of the best quality when it comes to choosing their ‘veneering glue.’ Ms Parul Mittal, Director, Greenlam Industries Ltd, reinforces this point by saying, “The adhesive used should be of superior quality –preferably contact cement.” She also suggests that both surfaces (the veneer and the recipient surface) should be kept clean and freed from any dust beforehand, to make the material stick better on the surface.
“Apply a ‘filler’ to the surface before pasting the veneer for a long-lasting designer finish”, says Mr Saharsh Khaitan, Director (Marketing), Durian Industries Ltd. Mr Khaitan also suggests keeping the face of the Veneer away from direct sunlight to make it stick for the longest time. Designers across the world also emphasise on the mixing technique of these heavy-duty, adhesives. Ar Raja shares: “It is critical to the application to thoroughly stir the adhesives before each use. A paper-backed veneer can be used on an exterior surface only if an epoxy application is used, Veneer must be bonded to a suitable substrate of reliable quality.”
MID-APPLICATION: Power of ‘Pressure’
The veneering procedure isn’t cakewalk too. With so many intricacies involved, one is much likely to go wrong. To make it work with no worries, Mr Ashok Chheda, a leading distributor of Durian Veneer (Space One Veneer) in Mumbai, suggests “The face-thickness of veneer must be more than 0.6 mm for any surface application except floors.” “Adequate pressure also needs to be applied in bonding the two surfaces. Wood Scrapper or Vacuum press is good for bonding,” says Ms Mittal.
Correct Layering of Glue
One more tip comes from Ar Garg as he shares, “After the old glue is scraped properly, replace it with a layer of wood glue on the undersurface of the veneer and then to the surface of the base wood”.
Ar Raja feels that veneers rely 100% on the adhesive. Therefore, it is important to use two coats. “The first coat is acting as a sealer, the second coat is the glue,” he explains. Veneering over bending plywood materials is most difficult. For this, Ar Raja suggests laminating a 1/8” MDF over the surface to makes it more stable. “Do not apply veneer directly to drywall, plaster walls, or concrete walls,” he warns.
Even if you complete the process of applying the veneer on the surface, remember, there’s still more to go. One needs to take due care of the freshly veneered surface. “Proper time should be given to the adhesive to dry down, else it will cause blisters. The time can vary, depending on ambient moisture, airflow, and temperature,” informs Ms Mittal. She also emphasises on not hurrying and waiting to apply any finish on the surface.
“You need to wait at least for 4-6 hours before applying any sealers or finishes,” she says.
“When placing the clamp, put a piece of cardboard or wood between the clamp and the surface. This will prevent it from blemishing”, says Ar Garg.
Polishing is another aspect of veneer that needs to be taken care of to get the best out of your veneered surfaces. For instance, in the case of Brush Application, it is important to use a soft bristle brush and apply plenty of colours on all the surfaces, to get a natural grain of the wood. When applying by brush it is also important to use a slow solvent, which allows more uniform staining.
#SR hopes these tips will be beneficial for having lesser pain with veneers while reaping the benefits of the beautiful material that helps in creating natural ‘wood-like’ surfaces at lesser cost and with lesser fuss.