October 4, 2010 - Marshall Coyle

Why A Solid Wood Bed Is Always Superior To An “Engineered” Wood Bed.

By The Old Bed Man.

I had to memorize this lovely poem as a small child attending PS80 in The Bronx.  It has stayed with me. Little did I know that I would be in the furniture business for more than half a century.  I hope that this tree is still growing and not ground up for furniture.  Many responsible American furniture makers now only use trees from sustainable forests.

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

— Joyce Kilmer

“Engineered Wood” is a composite man-made board that is used to lower the cost of manufactured furniture. It is usually made from ground up scrap wood formed into a solid shape by binding with Urea-formaldehyde resin glue.    It is often covered by a thin veneer of real or fake wood-grain printed plastic.  Unlike genuine wood with its long fibrous structure, this man-made substitute has little strength and should only be used on furniture parts that do not bear loads.  It can work well as a cheap top or side to a storage piece, but fails quickly when used in tables, beds, or chairs and can cause injury or worse to children and adults.

Solid wood, especially hardwood, when properly used, has been shown to last virtually forever.  Most solid wood used by American manufacturers now comes from sustainable forests. Glued sawdust, from the remains of ruined tropical forests made into “engineered wood” has made disposable furniture economical, but very expensive to consumers and the planet in the long run.  Most of the internet/catalog/mall stores sell virtually nothing but these cheap Asian imports.  Many are sold under prestigious American brand names that earned their reputations before the work was moved to Asia.

  • Solid wood beds have the proven strength to last for centuries.
  • “Engineered” particle/flake board beds rarely last longer than the last credit card payment.
  • Urea-formaldehyde resin found in man-made wood boards is considered unsafe or a carcinogen by experts around the world.  It does outgas from unfinished surfaces such as bed or furniture backs, and drawer sides, backs, or bottom.
  • You cannot tell a real solid wood piece of furniture from a cheap imitation by the picture. You must read the advertising and websites carefully. Ask the seller before you buy if it has particle board, chip core, manufactured wood, or any wood substitute.  Some extremely cheap particle board beds are made from large amounts of formaldehyde glue binding pieces of cellulosic products from other   materials such as rye straw, wheat straw, rice straw,  or “bagasse” a sugar cane residue,  meaning that they contain no actual wood.  Only vegetable fibers and potentially harmful formaldehyde make up a large portion of the bargain beds sold across America.

Even Sunflower Seeds Can Be Used To Make Your Bed

  • Take the time to find out what your potential purchase is made of.
  • Accept no substitutes for genuine wood.

If you want to read further about the potential harm of sleeping with your face next to many pounds of formaldehyde glue, please visit this Consumer Product Safety Commission site and read before you buy.  http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/725.pdf

If you want to learn more about why you should never buy cheaply made particle board furniture beside the health hazards, just visit your town landfill and see how much of the fill is slowly decaying recently made furniture that fell apart.

No Solid Wood Here

Bed Buying Tips / Old-Bed-Guy / Wood Beds


  • It was amazing how you simply said that solid wood beds are better than engineered wood simply because they have the proven strength and durability to last for centuries. I guess I can agree with that because my grandma has been using a wooden bed that was given to her by her grandmother. For me, the reason why I want a solid wood bunk bed is because of it’s aesthetic appeal. I already made an effort to decorate my bedroom the 19th century way, I wouldn’t look nice if I used iron bunk beds, right? Thanks for sharing. I loved it.

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