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5 quick ways to identify low-quality timber furniture

Story written by  - Better Homes & Gardens 
While we all love a bargain piece of furniture from chain store retailers, op-shops and gumtree, sometimes what we need is a decent piece of furniture that can withstand the test of time and survive years of heavy use.

But how can you tell the difference between a piece of furniture that’s made to last a season, and a piece of furniture that’s made to last a lifetime? We asked Elaine Ellis, one half of the husband and wife duo behind luxury furniture studio Henry & Oliver Co. for her advice on identifying the tell-tale signs of cheap furniture.

1. Check what the furniture is made of

“If the furniture piece is made from solid wood or timber, that means that it only contains wood, and solid wood tends to be more durable and more expensive. Plywood, on the other hand, is layers of wood and resin or glue,” says Elaine. “Check unfinished edges to tell if it's plywood or solid wood as plywood will have visible layers and solid timber will be one solid piece.”

2. Check the weight

“If your chosen piece of furniture is light weight this can be a tell-tale sign that it isn’t 100 per cent real wood, or an indicator of poor quality wood,” says Elaine. “A high quality piece of wood furniture will be heavier than a similar piece that is made from poor quality wood, such as pine.”

3. Check the stability

“A good piece of furniture should feel solid. If your timber furniture is well made and of a high quality it shouldn’t wiggle or move when used. Movement in the piece of furniture, such as when you sit in a chair or lean on a table, can be a sign of poorly manufactured wood, not 100 per cent genuine wood or inferior hardware.”

4. Look for imperfections

“Be careful to look out for veneer-wood,” says Elaine. “This is a lightweight material and can be as thin as 3mm, and may also peel over time. Veneer-wood is a combination of different woods and is man-made. As such, it’s manufactured to have a uniform look. The opposite is true of solid hardwoods. These furniture pieces show the imperfections, grain and character of the wood.”

5. Look for quality hardware

“For example, if a set of drawers have wooden runners this can be a sign of poorly manufactured furniture, as wooden runners won't work as well over time,” says Elaine. “Look for metal runners, as better quality hardware will ensure the longevity of your piece of furniture.”

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