Dizziness? Can’t sleep? Memory fog? These and flu-like symptoms just might be caused by your new laminated furnishings, flooring, upholstered chairs, and other décor that have been chemically treated. 

The wave of sleek and modernist style furnishings and related designs are primarily made of molded laminate on wood product that may look extraordinary and tasteful, but the chemicals, glues and ground products used to make the molds could negatively affect your health. 

The nationwide outcry in mid-2015 over laminated floor products imported from China that caused flu-like symptoms highlighted the need for further examination of these once-trusted products. Some makers known for high-end, quality wood furniture had started outsourcing their products. Some consumers received laminated furniture that appeared to be made of solid wood but wasn’t. 

And this type of “disposable” furniture is still finding its way into houses today.

These pieces are actually a molded over wood product consisting of wood shavings, plastics, glues and chemicals. Especially cheap laminated items use formaldehyde, a noted and dangerous carcinogen.

A simple test to know if your desk is laminate, veneer, or solid wood, is to take your thumb nail and see if you can scratch it or make a dent. If not, it is most likely laminate as the veneers and solid wood will give to the pressure even if the piece has a urethane or heavy varnish coating. The same applies to décor. Today’s buyer is more interested in appearance than the worthiness. 

A good rule of thumb is if the laminate has been nicked and white shows through, it is most likely a formaldehyde base. 

Laminated items such as most furnishings and décor can be easily dented or scratched, and will not stand up to heavy use or moisture or high heat. When in a fire, the furnishings almost explode in a ball of flames. 

Even if there is any attempt at a repair, the “shadow” of the damage can still be detected. Most furniture repair companies will not do a repair on damaged laminate for two reasons. First, a perfect repair isn’t possible when working with laminate. Second, formaldehyde can be released especially when sanding or working with the furniture.  Such furniture is considered a hazard. In fact, California and other states have required warnings on more recently made furniture indicating it is a possible health and fire hazard.

If furniture damage is distinctly noticeable and distracts from the integrity of the piece, it is best to either paint the item or get rid of it. Nearly 90 percent of furniture is molded laminate over wood product. 

It may look wonderful, but it has a short life as compared to the solid wood and veneers of the past and has minimal value on the secondary market.

It is called “disposable” furniture for a reason. 

— Do you have an appraisal question? Email us at We look forward to hearing from you.