How to Specify Architectural Wood Veneer

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For architects, knowing how to specify architectural wood veneers can be tricky, but veneers are such a complex part of interior woodwork that it’s essential your specifications are correct. Having the correct specifications from the outset means that you, the general contractor, interior designers, and woodworkers can properly coordinate their work, communicate clearly, and avoid wasting time and other resources. This requires specification language that is both detailed and clear.


Having a standard specification language for wood veneers is enormously helpful – we would go as far to say that it’s necessary. It’s not only important to help facilitate communication, but also crucial in maintaining the high quality service your clients expect and this establishes and maintains your good reputation. But first, let’s start at the beginning…


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What are Wood Veneers?

Wood veneers are mainly decorative components of interior woodwork which typically convey a sense of opulence and elegance. They are commonly used in designing the interiors of commercial buildings, residential buildings, and yachts. 

Veneers have the appearance and texture of solid wood because they are derived from wood – veneers are simply very thin slices of high-quality logs. They have varying grain patterns, textures, shades, and colors depending on:

  • How they are cut
  • The wood species
  • Age of the wood
  • Seasonal growth fluctuations
  • Wood imperfections
  • Finishing processes like sanding and varnishing


Using wood veneers as opposed to solid wood is more cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, and manageable. It allows flexibility in terms of design because wood patterns can be matched more seamlessly.


What are the Different Types of Wood Veneers?

The different types of wood veneer can be classified into several categories based on the type of substrate, the wood species, and the way they are cut. These classifications are essential in specifying what type of wood veneer you want and need in your project.


For example, in terms of the type of substrate, veneers can be classified into three categories:

  • Paper-backed veneer – the most common type of wood veneer used in matching curves. You can use this for interior columns
  • Wood-on-wood veneer – this type of veneer is glued on top of another veneer of lower quality and is commonly used to veneer furniture. The bottom layer of veneer serves as support while the surface layer serves as the aesthetic component
  • Phenolic-backed veneer – a veneer backed by plastic, making it water-resistant


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How to Specify Wood Veneer According to the Architectural Woodwork Standards

When you’re working on a QCP-certified project, it’s easy to specify architectural wood veneer. That’s because all you need to do is include the correct specification language in the Quality Assurance section of your project documents, both for fabrication and for installation. It’s also worth noting that this specification language is embedded in MasterSpec and Speclink, ready for you to use.


The QCP Specification Language

When you’re specifying any interior architectural woodwork for a QCP-certified project, this is the language you need to use:


Unless otherwise indicated, comply with AWI’s Architectural Woodwork Standards (Current Edition), including installation, for grades of interior architectural woodwork, construction, finishes and other requirements.


-Provide AWI Quality Certification Program [Labels] [Certificates] indicating that the woodwork, [including installation,] complies with requirements of grades specified.

Include one of the following:


-With a project number: This project has been registered as AWI-QCP project number_____. 


-Without a project number: Upon being awarded work, the contracting firm will register the work for QCP certification.


This specification language must be correct so you don’t get questions or errors from woodworking firms. If you include this language right from the start of your project, you’ll save time and effort in the long run.


Find out more about wood veneers in our comprehensive guide.

Guide to Wood Veneer