Once upon a time, almost all furniture was made from solid wood. Wood was harvested from trees, cut to size, assembled, carved, sanded, stained, and sealed – and that was that. But nowadays it can be difficult to know what you furniture is made of. Why should you care? Let’s take bathroom vanities as an example: many bathroom vanities these days are made of MDF or plywood with laminate or vinyl coverings, which are inferior in many ways compared to more traditional solid wood bathroom vanities. So what do wood vanities offer that other materials don’t?
Wood is an incredibly strong material. Many MDF and plywood bathroom vanities are built with solid wood frames for structural support, but the more wood you have in your vanity, the stronger and more durable it will be – and the more weight it’ll be able to support. This is especially important if you want a granite, marble, or concrete countertop, as your vanity must have the structural integrity to be able to support one. Solid wood bathroom vanities – that is, ones made with real hardwood throughout, like this Somerset vanity from Sagehill Design, not just the frame – can support much more weight, and hold up very well against long term wear and tear.
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Solid wood bathroom vanities last a long time because they can easily be repaired. While many materials that are used in inexpensive modern construction might look nice when they’re first installed, even if they’re produced well and hold up over a long period (which not all will!), if they’re damaged – scratched, gouged, stained, or water damaged – they’re almost impossible to repair because the finish is typically a thin layer covering a not-so-nice-looking waste-wood composite underneath. With solid wood bathroom vanities, like this Vigneron vanity from Herbeau, even if your vanity becomes seriously damaged over time, the surface can typically be sanded down and re-stained or otherwise resurfaced to eliminate the blemishes. Because that beautiful natural wood grain is real and goes all the way through, it can be repaired where other bathroom vanities would have to be discarded.
Solid wood bathroom vanities can actually be better for your health. This one might seem a little far out there, but it’s less so than you think. MDF and plywood are made from remnant and scrap wood pressed together and bound with various kinds of adhesives, and then further processed to be water proof. But many of the chemicals used in these processes, collectively referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can be harmful to the human respiratory system and can even be carcinogenic. Bathrooms are typically very closed spaces, especially ones without windows, and these VOCs can leech from processed woods over time and accumulate in your bathroom and throughout your home, which can harm you and your family. To avoid this, opt instead for solid wood bathroom vanities that are made of wood that hasn’t been treated with formaldehyde, like this ISO Approved Hardwood Vanity or any of the other wood vanities from Legion.
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Solid wood bathroom vanities just plain look better. I suppose, to a certain extent, this is a matter of opinion, but vanities made of real wood have a certain natural character that other materials simply can’t replicate. Between natural grain, knots, and pores in the wood, each and every wood vanity is unique and beautiful. While some laminates may mimic the look of wood from afar, up close they can’t compare, and no synthetic material can replicate the feel of it. And while the finish may warp or peel off synthetic vanities over time, solid wood bathroom vanities like this Classical Wood Vanity age more gracefully – or, if they’re well maintained, not at all.
Their slightly higher price is offset by their longevity. While in many cases you will pay a premium for solid wood bathroom vanities, especially if they’re made of a rarer wood, you’re not just paying to get a beautiful vanity, you’re paying for one that’s really designed to last a lifetime. A well made, solid wood vanity like this one from the Casual Elements Collection is designed to stay structurally sound, visibly beautiful, and completely functional in inhospitable bathroom conditions. They may require a little more maintenance than synthetic wood vanities to prevent splitting and fading, but with regular care, they should stay looking just as beautiful as the day you bought them.
They can be eco-friendly. While installing a vanity made of solid hardwood mahogany is definitely not the most “green” bathroom choice you can make, there are ways to lessen the environmental impact of a solid wood bathroom vanity while preserving all of its other positive qualities. How? One word: veneers. While most lumber is cut to a one inch thickness with a lot of sawdust waste between each board (the stuff MDF is sometimes made of!), veneers are carefully trimmed to 1/32″ sheets with little or no waste between each one. This is incredibly important for the most beautiful hardwoods (especially old heartwood). Solid mahogany vanities are not only prohibitively expensive, but also require wasteful cutting of valuable natural forests. But a vanity with mahogany veneers over a less expensive wood, like this Barrister vanity from Sagehill Design, will give you the same final look, but supports local tree farmers and ensure that natural grown exotic wood is harvested in smaller quantities and more sustainably.
A lot of factors come into play when considering what type of vanity to buy, and it can be hard to know which are the most important. With so many materials available, each with its own set of pros and cons, choosing the right bathroom vanity for your needs isn’t always easy to do. But rest assured, if you’re looking for quality, durability, and natural beauty, you can’t go wrong with a solid wood bathroom vanity. Is there anything you’re wondering about solid wood bathroom vanities I haven’t answered here? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see if I can help!
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