What does 'Selected solids' mean?

kaildenNovember 17, 2008

I'm looking at a bedroom suite that is described as "Selected solids with true swirl mahogany veneers".

I understand a veneered piece of furniture is lower quality from a solid wood in terms of being able to refinish, and less tolerant for humidity etc. What I want to avoid is buying something that is a veneer over particle board. The pieces themselves seem pretty hefty. Should I be concerned about "Selected Solids", like "Solid wood *products*", being a marketing term for particle board? What does "selected solids" mean? I could guess that it means they picked from a selection of wood...

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Selected solids: parts is parts...

It could be PB. Did you ask the salesperson? Or call/email the factory.

Veneered furniture is more tolerant of humidity changes than solid furniture. You cannot make a blanket statement as to whether solid or veneered is superior. Chippendale made veneered furniture as did Hepplewhite.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 1:50PM
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I took a class from a guy that makes $50k and up veneered furniture. He opened the class by saying, "Veneers are found on the very best furniture, and on the very worst."

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 10:05PM
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Solid wood is supposed to mean:

One single board or plank of wood or several wood boards that are glued together.

All wood is supposed to mean:
All components in the piece are wood. May include some combination of solid wood and engineered wood.

If I saw: selected solids, my first thought would be misc. woods as available.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 10:18PM
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Thanks for the replies.

You are right to say that some very nice furniture is veneered, and I shouldn't have implied that veneered furniture is more susceptible to humidity; I guess a lot has to do with how it is manufactured/crafted and the 'substrate' it is laid over, and of course all furniture does better in controlled humidity.

I'll be stopping by the store again in the next week or so, I'll ask the salesperson what 'selected solids' means, but in the meantime, I am grateful for the insight, and will be checking back here for any additional replies!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 7:54AM
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Ask yourself why you don't want veneer over particleboard. If otherwise made properly, veneer over particleboard will last at least a couple of decades. This is based on my experiences selling and using such furniture. My brother still has some pieces from 25 years ago, and my dad has some from the 60's.

So if you want solid wood... spend a good couple of days learning what makes a really good piece of solid wood furniture vs solid wood furniture that's made be sold at a lower price.

Then spend a day or two pricing it out, and then decide if that's still what you want.

There are ways to cut corners on solid wood furniture just like anything else - half-blind dovetails, deal-of-the-month solids, sloppy construction where you don't see it, etc. And yet the Formica bedrooms and wall units we sold 20 years ago are still going strong.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 6:34PM
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For what it is worth, my interpretation of what the salesperson said is that it is a selection of hardwoods. Again, this isn't heirloom furniture here, so of course some corners have been cut but I don't want to pay $$$$ for something that is more likely to be $$$ quality. I don't have $$$$$ kind of money for the perfect bedroom suite.

I have come to the understanding though that using plywood and particleboard in the interior of the furniture isn't a bad thing in itself. Along with the comments here, I also found the included link helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: homefurnish.com

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 11:19AM
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I have been in the furniture manufacturing business for 15 years. The term "selected solids" has two possible meanings. One is that the company uses various types of wood in the product which can change from time to time. The other is that they use an imported wood species(such as rubberwood) which most people have never heard of.
The thing to be careful of with "selected solids" is that the company is very possibly using soft woods which will not hold up very well over time. If they were using all hardwoods, the description would have read "selected hardwoods."

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 9:20AM
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To add on to what Simplyjeff says, solid wood does not necessarily mean strong. I see a lot of wood that does simply not have strength for its intended application. Grain run out, punky knots, brash grain, or simply low strength woods are used in places where they should not be. Or as I mutter to myself, "There's yet another piece of wood that should have been pitched into the trash bin."

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 12:11PM
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Speaking of Rubberwood, just how good is that stuff? I found a dining set on line made of this with a Golden Cherry finish. Should I turn the other cheek on Rubberwood or consider it. It's says it's a solid wood set.

Note: Our dining room will be casual with a table that seats 6 along with just a buffet - nothing else.

Thanks for your feedback.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 1:19PM
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Rubberwood is fine for low and mid priced applications. Bombay Company used to use it for most of their products (until they went out of business.)Just realize that it is not heirloom quality and will not last forever. Rubberwood (and similar imported woods) have very little grain and often require a dark finish to hide blemishes in the wood.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 4:26PM
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Is furniture similar to what Bombay carried also likely to be rubberwood? IÂve seen a lot in import stores (like World Market) that is a very dark wood finish with very little visible grain. Most of it looks pretty good but a lot of it also seems to be bashed up/scratched, making me wonder if the wood is soft or the finishing inferior. (Unless these stores are just really tough on their stock).

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 8:54PM
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I found a dinnette set online that I like. The description states hardwoods, though when I called the company, they said it's made from MDF (medium density fiberboard). Yikes. Is this something I should stay away from? This is just a casual set for $1000. No need for heimloom quality furniture here. Though it's just me and DH, we do entertain, and I'd like the set to last many years at least.


Here is a link that might be useful: set I found

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 4:35PM
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MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) is standard in the industry for lower and mid priced dining table tops. The difference between lower and mid-level is that for lower end tables the MDF is often imprinted with a grain right onto the fiberboard or is covered with a thin imprinted paper-like covering, often called a low pressure laminate. The next step up is the use of a high pressure laminate (formica type material). For mid-level furniture, the MDF is covered with a glued on veneer. This can be quite nice looking and is actually less susceptible to warping than higher priced solid table tops. The drawback is that if you damage your table top in any of these applications, it is very difficult to repair.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 9:44AM
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I'll be the first to admit there are no simple answers to your questions.

I have rubberwood chairs w/ a natural finish in our breakfast area and they held up well for 5 yrs with heavy use.

I just bought a 50 yr old Danish Modern credenza made with Teak veneer over a particle-board like material(not sure exactly). I'm really impressed with with the craftmanship, the joinery and how it has lasted this long and still really tight. I have it 8 feet away from a new Henkel Harris table and its equally impressive.

I wish there was an easier way in identifying quality, I just rely on my senses, does it feel right, etc.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 5:23PM
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Veneer is usually put over particleboard, and is used on the very cheapest and most expensive of furniture.

Rubberwood is inexpensive and easily replenishable when compared with familiar US hardwoods like oak, cherry, maple, etc. It is good quality in the sense that it holds up well.

It is not as attractive as familiar US hardwoods. However that is not an issue if you otherwise like the furniture. It is found on cheaper imported furniture because it is already plantation grown for its rubber sap in tropical nations that also produce inexpensive furniture. Since its plantation grown there are no logging restrictions to deal with.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 2:28PM
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Though I am not the OP, this has been a useful thread, thanks. I have a set of rubberwood folding chairs in natural finish that have held up very well, even though they have had rough use in the kids rooms. The bashed up finishes I mentioned earlier have all been on dark finished pieces. So I think that rubberwood might be good enough for many uses, but avoid those dark finishes.

I searched on these forums because I wanted a new dining set. I was concerned about spending a lot and not getting good quality, partly from seeing the aforementioned bashed up pieces, and because we have a Scandinavian Design teak dining table with problems. This table had the veneer blister on the top about a year after purchase. It blistered and parts peeled off right at the middle where the integral leaf folds out. Underneath is clearly particleboard. It is unsightly and could never be repaired. We have been living with this for over 20 years but it has always been annoying. I always have to position a table runner over it. I did not want to have a similar experience with a new, much more costly table.

I am looking for a traditional set because I have family antiques in the same room. I have seen now many online sites with dining sets that look intricately carved. I assume those are all made in China and are rubberwood or some other mystery wood; and may not hold up. I am afraid to order anything like this without seeing it in person. Unless I can find a local dealer and can actually see them, I am going to stay away. I have shopped now at several name brand furniture stores, and for the style I like the prices are well over what I have budgeted for this purchase.

I am grateful this forum exists to do research before purchasing. Homework may take time but it is much cheaper than disappointment.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 12:49PM
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I understand completely. I, too, have been looking in stores and on line for a good solid wood set. I've found some made from rubberwood and particle board, and won't pay the price for its good looks based on the material. I recently found a very nice looking set on line that is made of solid "french" cherry so it says. For 8 pieces, which includes a buffet, I just don't want to pay the $5K price tag for something that I can't touch, feel, and test out. I did call the online store and they told me it is a quality and very solid, well-made set, and have never had returns, but still...

Many of the physical stores here appear to sell junk and/or the style is not to my liking. I called somewhere the other day to get a price ona pic of a chairs that a fellow GW person sent me and they were over $500 each. Can you say $3000+ just for 6 chairs? No way!!!

So, while our almost remodeled DR sits empty, I continue to search. Keeping in mind along with area rug, drapes, pics, and other decor, that's alot of $$ to shell out in today's economy. We've never had a DR set in that room before; it's always been used for everything else but it's intention, including a 3rd sitting room.

Perhaps the $5K, in reality, isn't absurd, but I guess once I look more in the stores and have a comparison, I can justify that amount for a solid cherry set. Time will tell.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 9:58AM
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Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant! (Couldn't resist.)

I'm a non-expert. I had some skirted parsons chairs made about five years ago in CA. They covered the legs under the skirt with the same fabric. Later the legs started to wobble and threaten to bend/break. Come to find out they had made the legs mostly out of MDF, with a strip of real wood. (I took some of the fabric off and looked.) They had to fix the problem by adding some huge triangular reinforcement blocks up around the top, which stuck out and hit your legs when sitting in the chair. They explained to me that they are allowed by law to call it solid wood if it is a certain percent of solid wood, and the rest can be MDF yet still be called solid wood.

I don't know if this is true or not.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 3:08PM
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Furniture parts such as chair or table legs, bed rails, drawers guides, etc, made of MDF are bad news. MDF has attractive qualities for furniture such as stability but has poor tensile strength.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 9:06PM
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