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Last edited 15 Dec 2021
Veneer is typically an expensive material that may be rare or highly decorated. Some veneers include marquetry or parquetry inserts inlaid into a larger section of veneer. The material used as the base underneath the veneer may be softwood or even laminated board. In some instances, a solid material may be used - particularly in the case of furniture.
There is evidence that veneer was used in Ancient Egypt with examples found in the tomb of Tutankhamen. The technique became more widely used in England, Italy and France in the 16th century.
As global exploration increased in the 18th century, new types of wood (such as mahogany and Brazilian rosewood) were used for furniture making. Marquetry veneers also began to incorporate exotic and semi-precious materials such as brass, ivory and tortoiseshell.
By the early 19th century, veneers were less elaborate in terms of decorative patterns but their use became more widespread. Veneer would be used over the entire carcass of the item, but decorations would be simple, incorporating linear patterns or floral designs. In the Victorian age, the imperfections of solid wood furniture could be covered by veneers of the same material but of a better quality and finish.
Modern veneers are typically glued onto the base surface. They can be manufactured into extremely thin materials and may not even be apparent. Some veneers are made from wood but there are plastic veneers as well.
Laminated veneer lumber (LVL) is a type of high-strength engineered timber that can be used as an alternative to solid timber, concrete and steel for structural applications. It is manufactured by bonding rotary peeled or wood veneers that have been sliced thinly under heat and pressure.
There is also a brick veneer (or brick slip) which is a thin layer of brick that is used as a surface finish rather than a structural one. Brick veneers can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications and can be applied to almost any surface. A range of special brick slips are available for certain conditions (such as corners) to continue the illusion that walls are constructed from full bricks.
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