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When it comes to architectural wood doors, architects and specifiers know that there is more than strength and stability that matter. At the core of every wood door is the beauty that comes from the face of the door itself. A door’s aesthetics is set in motion by the choice of veneer, but even in the eye of the most seasoned professionals, selecting the right veneer isn’t simple. To help you navigate the intricate world of door face veneers, having a thorough knowledge of how they’re cut and how they’re matched is key to ensure that your door and window visions can become reality.

Veneer Selection

The uniqueness offered by veneer is what makes it appealing and interesting in the realm of design. The selection of veneer is based on the different wood species and the distinctive characteristics each one of them has. Color determines the style and atmosphere of a space. When choosing a veneer, it is best to begin with color (e.g. light, medium, dark) and review samples in this color range. Along with color, the figure plays a vital role into the veneer that is chosen. Figure refers to the surface effect of the grain, where wood grain patterns are produced naturally as the tree grows.

Veneer Matching

The beauty of veneer doesn’t only come from the natural variations of texture, grain, figure and color. It is also based on the way the veneer is assembled on a door face. The arrangement of veneers strip of similar or varying grain patterns within a given panel (or from panel to panel) is called veneer matching. There are different techniques of matching.

  • Book match is the most common in the industry. In this method, every other piece of veneer is turned over so that adjacent pieces are opened like adjacent pages in a book. The veneer joints match and create a mirrored image pattern at the joint line.
  • Random match consists of choosing individual pieces of veneer from one or more logs. This type of veneer matching produces a “board like” appearance and is commonly used in opaque finish grades.
  • Pleasing match consists of a face containing components that provide a pleasing overall appearance. The grain of the various components doesn’t have to be matched at the joints.

Veneer Cutting

How a log is cut, in relation to the annual growth rings, determines the appearance of a veneer. The slices of veneer (called leaves) are kept in the order in which they are cut, which means that they are in order when they are arranged into the veneer. There are four main types of cutting:

  • A rotary cut follows the log’s annual growth rings, providing a general bold, random appearance.
  • A plain sliced (also called flat cut) is sliced parallel to a line through the center of the log. Cathedral and straight grain patterns are the result.
  • Quarter cutting produces a series of stripes.
  • Rift Cutting is made slightly off the radius line associated with quarter cutting

From adding strength and functionality to the door, to ensuring low maintenance hassles for consumers and installers, veneers have become a go-to for many architects and builders. The WDMA Industry Standards for Architectural Wood Flush Doors and Interior Architectural Wood Stile & Rail Doors include comprehensive descriptions of the selections most commonly available, and even include a specification checklist to help make sure all key specification and product identification requirements are addressed. If you want to learn more about the best veneer practices for your doors, register to our free webinar here.