How durable is the birch veneer on IKEA furniture?
October 14, 2014 3:44 PM   Subscribe

I just bought this desk from IKEA . It was a bit of a splurge, upgrading from a busted-up old kitchen table that I have been using for a desk for the last, um, well forever and never needing to worry about coffee spills and the like. Now that I have this new desk, I want to treat it right and make it look good until I am old and worn out.

This birch veneer seems to be something they use on a lot of tables and desks. How durable is it? Do I need coasters for my drinks? Do I need a mousepad?
posted by nanook to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
I don't have this specific desk, but I do have a 10 year-old birch veneer desktop from IKEA and it's held up great against all sorts of abuse. It seems to have a protective layer of some kind of plastic over it? Hard to describe, but it's not like one of those papery veneer surfaces. I wouldn't put anything very hot on it, and I always use a mousepad, but I wouldn't hesitate to put a glass of water down without a coaster.
posted by quince at 3:51 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Laminate can stain, and if you have water on it too long, it can bubble up, so I'd be careful with it, but not as much as if it was stained wood.
posted by xingcat at 3:52 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would use coasters and a mousepad, yes.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:53 PM on October 14, 2014

Yes to coasters and a mousepad. Mine is 12 years old and a bit stained from hot drinks without a coaster.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:06 PM on October 14, 2014

The bad news is that there's no answer to a question like "How good is IKEA birch veneer?". I've got at least 3 different grades of it within metres of me, plus several items with fake birch foil coats.

The good news is that the best is pretty robust, and the other good news is that with IKEA you get exactly what you pay for. So that desk will have a pretty robust veneer. I'd probably use coasters for drinks, but not bother with a mousepad. And if I were less clumsy with drinks, I'd probably not bother for that either.
posted by ambrosen at 4:21 PM on October 14, 2014

If you go to a local fabric store you can get some vinyl on the roll (of appropriate thickness), have them cut you 2 yards (72"), put it on your desk (it will "adhere"), and cut it to the desk's exact shape. BAM coaster for the whole top, cheap and replaceable, spills wipe up, light scratches don't mark.

We do this on our dining room table ... things that are VERY hot will liquify the wax on the tabletop and you can see it, but we just have to rewax it if we happen to want to use it w/o the vinyl. Same vinyl for about 10 years now.

If you hate it you'll be out like $10.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:28 PM on October 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Have had IKEA stuff that has lasted more than 10 years, no problem.

There are a couple of things that can wear furniture more quickly:
- heat and liquids (as mentioned by others)
- Moving. Moves can be hard on furniture. Veneer furniture is more at risk to unintentional dings. So pack it up extra careful.

Generally, I treat my veneered furniture like real wood: keep it clean, careful with heat, and have used tricks used with wood to fix up scratches.
posted by troytroy at 5:32 PM on October 14, 2014

In my experience, IKEA furniture is more durable than people give it credit for (I've unassembled and reassembled an IKEA bed several times and have moved a dresser the same number of times) and it does seem the more expensive the furniture is, the longer it lasts. (I do plan on keeping the bed and desk through at least one more move.)

But yes, coasters and mouse pads -- but to the same degree you'd use coasters and mouse pads on anything else. If you don't treat that desk as disposable, it won't be.

We have a "vintage" (it's probably not that old) coffee table and while I tend to beat it up, I treat it more nicely than I do any of my IKEA furniture. It's not that I feel like it's worth more as much as the finish seems more sensitive. With my IKEA stuff, I may not always use a coaster. With this coffee table, I do. So yeah, as long as you treat it like you'd treat a quality piece of furniture, it should treat you well.
posted by darksong at 6:26 PM on October 14, 2014

It can dent and looks bad when it does, so, uh, don't dent it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:03 PM on October 14, 2014

Amusingly enough, I'm in the process of offloading the Galant version of that desk from 2004. It has variously moved cross-country three times and done a stint as a kitchen table, computer desk, and hobby desk and the surface is pretty much perfect still. I have some dings in the side edges from moves, but overall it's held up great.

Nthing the advice above to treat it nicely with some forethought, but you shouldn't have to baby it assuming it's a similar grade to their older table tops.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:24 PM on October 14, 2014

My Ikea desk has birch veneer. I've definitely scrubbed year-old coffee stains off it no problem.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 8:17 PM on October 14, 2014

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