Choosing Furniture: Solid Wood or Flat-Pack

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My son is growing up, which means it’s now time for me to upgrade his bedroom from a nursery to a proper bedroom. Getting the right furniture is obviously going to be essential, and this got me thinking – what are the best options for me?

I already know that I want wooden furniture in his room, to match the rest of the house. The question is; do I want IKEA flat-pack furniture, which is cheaper and easier to replace, or do I want to splash out the cash and get some solid wood furniture, which would probably last him well beyond his teens and could maybe even be passed down to his children when the time comes?

I have been talking to close friends and family and doing my research into the pros and cons of flat-pack vs solid wood for a few weeks now, and have more or less settled on getting my little boy solid wood furniture after seeing some fantastic pieces online – I definitely recommend checking out Woolstore Furniture, their designs are outstanding.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to share my findings with other parents (or anyone looking to buy wooden furniture for that matter).

Advantages of solid wood furniture vs flat-pack furniture:

  • Longevity – One of the biggest selling points for me was the fact that, while initially a bit more expensive, solid wood furniture just lasts a whole lot longer than flat-pack furniture. To be honest, I would much rather spend a few extra dollars today and know that I would be saving more in the long run on not having to replace it every few years. Granted, fibrewood (which is what flat-pack furniture is made of) does not warp or crack due to moisture, and natural wood does unless adequately treated, but on the flip side, fibrewood is less resistant to heat changes, and dents and scratches to fibrewood can’t be sanded out. Meaning that if you damage fibrewood, you’ll end up having to replace it.
  • Looks – Now I’m not saying that flat-pack furniture is ugly, but the mass-produced nature of it means that pretty much everyone will have the same piece of furniture. Getting a custom-made piece of furniture, like the designs from Woolstore Furniture that I mentioned above, just appeals to me more. The unique patterns on the grain, the different shades of the wood itself, all add to a more aesthetic look than the blander fibrewood could hope to offer. For a bedroom, looks do indeed matter.
  • Weight – This is definitely the one that surprised me the most since you would assume that natural solid wood would weigh a lot more than fibrewood. In actuality, fibrewood is a denser material than natural wood, due to the process by which it is made. I would much rather not throw out my back, trying to put up some shelves or putting a wardrobe together. This leads me quite neatly to my next point.
  • Quality – Let’s be totally honest here, I’m no furniture-maker. While I can follow assembly instructions, a DIY job is never going to be as good as a professional doing it. Coupled with the fact that fibrewood can’t handle weight the same way natural wood can, which I will talk about in my next point, and the fact that chipping or denting fibrewood is quite common, I could end up with a wobbly bed or bookshelf that already looks battered before it’s been used.
  • Weight-bearing – Like I pointed out above, fibrewood can’t handle too much weight. Which means that, if I go with fibrewood, either I’ll need more shelves and storage space to avoid overloading any particular item and watch my son like a hawk to make sure he’s not climbing the furniture like Spiderman or pretending his bed is a bouncy castle; or I need to resign myself to the fact that I will need to keep replacing his furniture every couple of months. With solid wood, however, I can be sure that his shelves will be able to cope with his mountain of books and toys without sagging. And any dings that do happen can be sanded out to make the furniture look as good as new.

So really, I would have to say that solid wood furniture does have a lot more going for it than I initially thought. Not only is it longer-lasting and more beautiful to look at, but it’s also surprisingly easier to maintain than flat-pack furniture. Which is not something I would have thought going into this project. I suppose the initial investment will pay off in the future. And maybe once I’ve sorted out my son’s new room, I’ll consider getting some new furniture for the master bedroom and the living room. I have a funny feeling that my wallet will be happier in the long run.

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