Solid wood tables, no matter what wood species, expand and contract with changes in temperature. No matter what type of table they are, wood will often expand and contract with temperature or humidity change.
For tabletops that open with leaves, where the two pieces come together, they may touch in the center and gap at the ends at certain times of the year. Although this may be alarming, this is just natural movement in the wood. There is also sometimes gap in the top, but the apron or skirt of the table is touching, which prevents it from closing. Trimming the ends of the apron or skirt will usually solve the issue, but the change is in the top as wood expands width wise in a plank and not lengthwise. With solid wood table leaves you could measure them during the year they may be 11 7/8” wide and the same leaf measure 12 1/16” a month later due to the expansion and contraction. This also can keep doors and drawers from closing property at different times in the season. Normally in cabinetry there is a cut allowance done to allow for this, but in some cases is not applicable.
Characteristics of Veneer Tops
Tabletops that include a decorative inlay in the wood, or even just a simple border band around the top in a sunburst pattern, are often designed with veneer. The reasoning is it is about 1/32” to 1/64” of an inch thick but still is solid wood. With it being thin, expansion and contraction are less likely there for not destroying the design. This is normally done with veneer wood over an engineered product such as plywood/veneer core or high-density fiber core, or many other underlayment products. As far as durability, it wears similar to other wood furniture. The main difference would be the way in which it might absorb moisture if wet for an extended period of time, as it would swell, destroying the top. This is usually irreparable. However, for veneer furniture with slight water damage, or scratches from normal wear and tear, the finish can be striped and refinished to look like new again. Many people don’t realize this can be done with veneer furniture because they don’t know how to do it. It can easily be repaired by chemically removing the finish, lightly sanding, and reapplying the clear coat.
For everyday use, I would recommend solid hardwood dining or kitchen table. However, for a formal dining, veneer tables work well too.
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