At IKEA we have a tradition of trying to utilise materials in the best possible way. For our worktops in thick veneer it means that we combine old craftsmanship with modern manufacturing methods. It makes the worktops easier to install, more stable and more resistant to humidity compared to solid worktops. And since we use the whole tree – even the crooked branches and the small twigs – we can save natural resources too.
Better worktops by using wood smartly
Wood is a precious natural resource. Even though it’s a renewable material it needs to be handled responsibly. One way to do it, is to use the wood more efficiently. That’s what we do with our kitchen worktops in thick wood veneer.
“At IKEA we have a tradition of trying to utilise the materials we have in the best possible way,” says Johnny Rietz, who’s been involved in developing the kitchen worktops in thick veneer.
The work started in 2008 when IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad, visited one of our suppliers and asked a simple question that took some time to answer: ‘How can we make this product using fewer trees?’
Less is more
“After some trials and errors, we came up with the solution. A core of particleboard and a layer of solid wood on the outside – or thick veneer,” says Johnny.
“It’s a combination of traditional craftsmanship and modern manufacturing methods. Paper-thin veneer has been used in fine, decorative furniture making for centuries, but for our worktops we’re using a much thicker layer of wood.”
The thick veneer makes the surface hardwearing, and it saves raw material – a lot of it. From the same amount of wood needed to make one solid worktop, it’s possible to produce five thick veneer worktops.
No wood is wasted
Another advantage with this production technique is that you can use the whole tree; the stem as surface, and scrap bits – curvy, bent branches and small twigs – for the particleboard on the inside. The end result is a worktop that is every bit as genuine as solid wood, only more stable and more resistant to humidity.
“Sometimes a small, harmless question can make a big difference. That’s exactly what happened with our kitchen worktops. It started as a challenge to use resources wiser, and proved to have positive effects not only for the environment, but also the quality. I think it’s great when that happens!” says Johnny.
What is constructed board?
We use constructed boards when manufacturing many of our pieces of furniture, such as tables and wardrobes. They are light yet still stable and strong. Each board has a frame made of chipboard, fibreboard or solid wood, while the inside is a honeycomb filling structure made of mostly recycled paper, which is extra durable thanks to its special construction. The board is then covered with a protective paint, foil or veneer depending on the style wanted.