A quick look at the Craigslist furniture section will reveal that a lot of people trying to sell things a) don’t know what real wood furniture looks like, b) don’t care whether it’s real wood or c) are willfully misleading, to the point of embarrassing themselves and others.How can you tell? It’s a matter of the description (“Real wood dresser!”) accompanied by photos of a dresser that is anything but real wood. But, how do you tell if it’s real wood when the product in question is online? Look for these not-so-subtle clues:Product Materials List
Consumer products, whether sold in-store or online, should have a product materials list. The law obliges manufacturers to treat the word “wood” with some care, so if the item you’re browsing is made of composite material you may not find that word in the materials list.Then again, many products are made of a combination of wood and wood-composite material, in which case you should also be familiar with certain terms when looking for hardwood.Common Composite-Wood Terms
Technology has given manufacturers ample tools they may use to make their products at a more advantageous price point, and it bear noting that this is not always a bad thing. Some composite materials are stronger, lighter or retain some other quality that may appeal to a buyer over those of hardwood. Knowing these two types will help:Veneer:
A veneer is a very thin hardwood sheet affixed to the surface of another material to improve its appearance. The underlying material could be a wide variety of things, but is typically a composite.Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF):
MDF, as it’s commonly called, is an engineered wood product made by pressing wood fibers together with a resin binder.These are two of the most common materials used, but for information on other types you can read more here
Rubberwood, parawood and “Hevea” all refer to wood from the Para rubber tree, which is often generally called “plantation hardwood” in product materials. It’s important to note that this is a real hardwood comparable to more familiar hardwoods like oak and maple.In fact, rubberwood is a strong, sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to many other hardwoods that are more expensive and/or in short supply. It’s a byproduct of the natural-latex industry for which it is cultivated, but it’s durable and takes a range of finishes.