A while ago we asked you to have a look at a couple of IKEA products and judge if they were made from solid wood. The results are in and the project team is quickly absorbing all the information, but all we really want to know is: what products were made of solid wood? Let’s dive into the nerdy world of wood!
Mostly solid wood
Let’s start with a confession, none of the products shown in our survey were made from 100% solid wood. At IKEA we actually don’t often make storage furniture that is completely solid wood. Even products like HEMNES and HAVSTA, that are mostly made from solid pine, have components like the back panel that are made from the wood based material fibreboard. We don’t want to overuse wood and in the case of HEMNES a thin wood back panel would actually be detrimental for forests and in most cases, it wouldn’t have big functional advantages.
Solid wood & wood veneer
These products are made in part of solid wood, but also contain ‘engineered wood’ and wood veneer. LISABO is a good example of how we produce these products. The legs are made from solid wood, but the table top is made from ‘engineered’ wood, a bit of solid wood to give it its shape, and wood veneer.
Wood veneer is a wood invention that is really quite interesting. It is a very thin layer (less than 1mm) of actual wood that is shaven off of a wood log. That’s part of the reason why these products look so good! The picture below shows separate parts of the LISABO products.
Engineered wood & foil/lacquer/melamine
These products are made from different types of engineered wood (particle board, fiberboard, honeycomb structures) surrounded by a non-wood foil, lacquer, or melamine. While these materials are not wood, technology is getting better and better at replicating the wooden look, or what we call ‘the wood expression’.
Wood composites, engineered wood & veneer
And that brings us to the last tested product, MALSJÖ. This is a hybrid of production techniques using both particleboard, engineered wood, foil, and an ash veneer. This product actually contains no parts made from solid wood, meaning it fooled 65% of our respondents.. I guess it just looks really good 😉
Engineered for Democratic Design
When making decisions around material we’re always looking for a balance between quality, price, and sustainability – three of the five dimensions of Democratic Design that every IKEA product has to meet.
There are different ways for us to ‘engineer’ wood to create constructions that mirror the qualities of actual solid wood. This can mean using paper honeycomb constructions, particle board, or other ‘lesser’ quality wood surrounded by foil, lacquer, veneer or in some cases even plastic. The great thing about this construction is that the quality requirements we meet for engineered wood are just as good as the quality requirements met by solid wood. So they offer the same quality but at lower prices with better sustainability.