How to Tell if Furniture is Real Wood

Are you considering purchasing a piece of furniture for your home but are hesitant because you’re not sure if it’s made with real wood? You’re not alone–furniture quality can be difficult to accurately identify, especially if we’re not familiar with the various types and characteristics of wood.

How to Tell if Furniture is Real Wood

Fortunately, there are certain ways to tell if furniture is made with genuine wood rather than imitation materials like plastic or particleboard.

In this blog post on how to tell if furniture is real wood, we’ll explore the common signs to look out for when trying to determine whether a piece of furniture is crafted from authentic solid hardwood or not. With our tips in mind, you’ll be equipped to make an informed purchase decision and ensure that you get exactly what your space needs!

Benefits of Choosing Real Wood Furniture

Before we dive into the telltale signs of real wood furniture, let’s first discuss why it’s worth considering in the first place. Here are some benefits to keep in mind:


Solid wood furniture is built to last and can withstand daily wear and tear with proper care. Unlike cheaper materials, real wood is less likely to scratch, dent or break easily.

Timeless Aesthetic:

Wood has a timeless appeal that can blend seamlessly with any decor style, making it a versatile choice for any home. Additionally, the natural variations in wood grains make each piece unique and add character to your space.


Furniture made with real wood is environmentally friendly as it is a renewable and sustainable material. It also requires less energy to produce compared to other materials.

11 Step-by-step Guidelines on How to Tell if Furniture is Real Wood

Step 1: Check for Wood Grain

Real wood has a distinct grain pattern that is visible to the naked eye. Depending on the type of wood, the pattern can be straight, wavy or even have knots. It should also feel slightly textured to the touch.

You won’t find this feature on imitation materials. But if you do, it’s likely a wood veneer. However, this isn’t always a bad thing as veneers can still be made from real wood and offer a more affordable option for furniture.

Step 2: Look for Imperfections

Real wood also has natural imperfections such as knots, blemishes, and discolorations. These are not signs of low quality but rather add to the character and uniqueness of each piece.

Plastic or particleboard would have a smooth and even surface without any visible flaws. It’s also worth noting that these imperfections should be consistent with the type of wood used. For example, knots are common in pine wood but not in oak.

Plastic or Particleboard Would Have a Smooth

Step 3: Check for Weight

Real wood is heavier than imitation materials. If you can easily lift or move a piece of furniture, it’s likely made from a lighter material like plastic or particleboard. However, keep in mind that this may not apply to smaller pieces such as chairs or side tables. It’s still worth checking the weight of larger items like dressers or dining tables.

Step 4: Tap on the Furniture

Genuine wood will produce a solid and dull sound when tapped, while fake wood will sound hollow. You can test this by tapping on different areas of the furniture to see if the sound is consistent. Be sure to also listen for any vibrations or echoes, which are common with plastic or particleboard. But with real wood, the sound should be more muted.

Step 5: Look for a Label or Stamp

Check for any labels that indicate the type of wood used in the furniture. This information can usually be found on the underside, back or inside drawers. It may also include a country of origin or manufacturer’s mark. However, keep in mind that not all pieces will have a label, especially if they are handmade or antique. The absence of a label does not always mean the furniture is not real wood.

Step 6: Smell the Furniture

Real wood has a natural and distinct smell that is often described as earthy or woody. If you can’t detect any scent, it’s likely that the furniture is made from imitation materials.

However, some finishes like varnish or paint may mask the smell, so this method should be used in conjunction with other steps. Although, if you do smell a strong chemical odor, it’s a clear sign that the furniture is not made from real wood.

Real Wood Has a Natural and Distinct Smell

Step 7: Check the Edges and Joints

Real wood furniture will have a smooth and seamless finish where the edges meet. Any visible glue or seams could indicate that the piece is made from veneer or composite wood. Additionally, check for dovetail joints, which are typically used in solid wood furniture for added strength and durability. It’s also a good idea to inspect the back and underside of the furniture for any visible screws or nails, which would not be used in high-quality wood furniture.

Step 8: Inspect the Color

Real wood will have variations in color and tone due to its natural properties. If you notice that the color is consistent throughout, it’s likely not made from real wood. You should also look out for any discoloration or fading, as this could indicate that the piece has been stained to mimic real wood. If possible, compare the color to other wood pieces in the same room or store to get a better idea of its authenticity.

Step 9: Ask About the Construction

If possible, ask the seller or manufacturer about the construction of the furniture. Solid wood furniture is typically built using traditional methods and will have visible craftsmanship, such as hand-carved details or joints. On the other hand, imitation materials are often mass-produced and lack these unique features. It’s also a good idea to ask about the type of wood used and how it was sourced.

Step 10: Consider the Price

Real wood furniture tends to be more expensive than imitation materials, so if you come across a piece that seems too good to be true, it probably is. This doesn’t mean that all inexpensive furniture is fake, but rather you should consider other factors as well when determining its authenticity. Keep in mind that investing in real wood furniture is a long-term investment, as it can last for generations with proper care.

Real Wood Furniture Tends to Be More Expensive

Step 11: Seek Professional Help

If you’re still unsure about the authenticity of the furniture, consider seeking professional help. A furniture appraiser or woodworking expert can provide their opinion and assess the materials used to make the piece. They may also be able to identify any unique features that are specific to certain types of wood. This option is especially useful when purchasing antique or high-value pieces.

Following these steps on how to tell if furniture is real wood can help you determine if the furniture is real wood or not. Keep in mind that it’s always best to do your research and trust your instincts when making a purchase. Real wood furniture offers unmatched durability, beauty, and value, so it’s worth taking the time to ensure its authenticity. Happy shopping!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Why Should I Care if Furniture is Made From Real Wood?

A1: Real wood furniture tends to be more durable and long-lasting compared to imitation materials. It also adds a natural and unique touch to your home decor. It’s also more environmentally friendly, as trees can be replanted and replenished while plastic and particleboard cannot.

Real Wood Furniture Tends to Be More Durable

Q2: Can’t I Just Look at the Price to Determine if Furniture is Real Wood?

A2: While price can be a factor in determining authenticity, it should not be the only one. Some inexpensive furniture may be made from real wood, while some expensive pieces may actually be imitation materials. Other factors like weight, construction, and smell should also be considered.

Q3: Is it Okay to Buy Furniture Made From Imitation Materials?

A3: Ultimately, the decision is up to personal preference and budget. However, keep in mind that imitation materials may not offer the same level of quality or longevity as real wood. They may also be more difficult to repair or refinish if damaged. It’s always a good idea to research and consider all options before making a purchase.

Q4: Can I Use These Steps to Determine if Furniture is Made From Real Wood?

A4: While these steps can be helpful in identifying real wood furniture, it’s important to note that they are not foolproof. Some imitations may pass these tests or have a convincing appearance. It’s always best to seek professional help or thoroughly research the materials used before making a purchase.


Whether you are buying or selling furniture, it is important to know how to tell if a piece of furniture is real wood. As highlighted in this post, there are a variety of ways to determine the authenticity and quality of a piece of wood furniture. From checking for signs of veneer to looking for imperfections in the grain of the wood, these methods provide easy ways to inform your decisions when it comes time to buy or sell.

While some factors make differentiation between solid wood and particle board more difficult, researching and taking into account the manufacturer’s history can help ensure that you get what you pay for when selecting new pieces.

With this knowledge in mind on how to tell if furniture is real wood, one might be able to make an educated decision on where their money is best spent. In any case, evaluating real wood furniture is an integral step towards furnishing a beautiful and stylish home; ultimately making the process easier for everyone involved.

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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