Solid Wood vs. Manufactured Wood vs. Particle Board May 02 2013

One of the most common questions we get asked by customers who are interested in purchasing a computer desk is about whether our wood desks are made of solid wood. Or they ask what we mean by manufactured wood. Or they just call and say something like, "Your desks are not made of that particle board junk are they??"

We do our best to respond to every customer in an informative way, explaining what we've learned on this important topic over the years, but we wanted to post on this because it is a confusing issue and an important one. When you spend good money on a new desk (or any piece of furniture), you want to make sure it is of a high quality and will stand up to daily use for the long haul. This is why people ask such questions, and why the answers are very important.

Here are the most important pieces of information we'd like to pass on:

1. True solid wood pieces are rare. For a piece of furniture to actually be "solid wood", it must be crafted together from large sections of hardwood. This is almost always a custom job, where the pieces are crafted on order, one at a time. Usually such pieces are crafted by master carpenters, and the specs of each piece are able to be modified based on your individual needs for space, features, etc. Almost always with such pieces you can at least choose your wood finish, as this is the final step after the piece has been built. Typically such pieces also ship assembled as a unit, since they have been individually crafted and are complete pieces of fine carpentry when complete (not pieces in a box ready to be assembled). Here is an example of such a desk that we sell on our site:

 

This piece is made of solid bamboo by a fine craftsman based in New York, and he makes one piece at a time when an order is placed. Each part of this bamboo desk is sculpted together, and the specs of your piece can be altered to fit your needs. As you can see, the pricing is very expensive, as the time it takes to construct each piece is very intensive, and it takes a great deal of expertise. This is delivered assembled with a white glove company, and will certainly last you a lifetime. However, as we said, true solid wood pieces are rare, and you won't find too many others on our site. Craftsmen who make such pieces are hard to find, and 99.9% of all wood desks you see sold in stores or online will not be solid wood, even if the sign states they are "solid wood."

2. Most pieces that are called "solid wood" in today's marketplace have a combination of solid wood, veneers, and manufactured wood. So what is manufactured wood? Manufactured wood is similar to the material you would find in many hard wood floors. It is not plastic, and it is not particle board. It is wood--but a combination of lots of different kinds of wood manufactured and pressed together to form "manufactured wood", or "pressed board." It is extremely heavy and sturdy, and the inside looks different from regular wood. However, its function is identical to regular wood, and it can be produced in bulk and less expensively.

The desk I work at every day fits into this category--it is a combination of a veneer, laminate desk top and manufactured wood. It is extremely sturdy and quite heavy, and it functions exactly as if it were solid wood. I have had it for a year and it seems as if it's new. It is made by Bestar, one of the premium manufacturers of desks made of manufactured wood. They do a marvelous job of finishing the laminate surfaces in a thermally fused melamine coating to protect it from stains, burns, or scratches, as do many of the top manufacturers of these desks. I have thoroughly used this desk on a daily basis and it has stood up very well--it still seems new.

The reason manufacturers use manufactured wood is because it serves the same purpose, can be covered so users are unaware the whole piece is not solid wood, and it allows buyers to get a high quality, sturdy piece of wood furniture for a fraction of the price. Makes sense to me! There are those out there who bash manufactured wood, and certainly if you can afford a piece to be hand crafted those are a step above. However, the manufactured wood desks on our site are of a very high quality and will serve your needs very well for the long haul. Many, like the Bestar desks, even come with standard 10 year warranties to ensure you are getting a long-lasting product!

3. Very light, flimsy products that you can get cheaply (often at stores like Wal-Mart) are not made of manufactured wood but are more aptly described as "particle board." We do not sell anything like that on the site. There is often confusion about whether manufactured wood or pressed board are the same thing as particle board. The answer is no. Particle board is the lightweight material that is thin and will not stand up to daily use. Often these pieces will not even last you a year. We often say if you find a desk that is less than $100, it's better to stay away from it. Sometimes it makes a lot more sense to pay a few more dollars for a product that will last 10 times as long.

Just know that the core of our company at ComputerDesk.com is that we sell only the highest quality products at the best possible prices with the best customer service in the industry. We have absolutely no interest in selling you junk, because that will make you an unhappy customer. It's not worth it to us. We want every one of our customers to be raving fans who share about our business with their family, friends, businesses, etc. The best way to create raving fans is to offer top-notch products you'll be so excited about when you receive them, and to give you those products with incredible customer service and at great prices. That's why we exist. So rest assured as you browse through our catalog that the products you find there are going to be sturdy, long-lasting, and well-made. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to shoot us an e-mail or give us a call at 888-335-4609.