Plywood has several advantages. It can be bent and shaped permanently, making it an ideal choice for contemporary furniture manufacturers. As well, plywood is strong and resists swelling, shrinking and warping.
Particleboard is constructed of a mixture of sawdust, resin, or glue and small wood chips. This mixture is pressed and pressure-treated. Even so, particleboard will swell and shrink. The next level of particleboard, called hardboard, has been pressed together to a higher degree, making it more durable.
Veneer is a popular product. Found on all kinds of pieces at various furniture prices, veneer is very useful. Its construction combines a very thinly sliced piece of wood and plywood. The 1/28 inch piece of wood is attached to a wood or plywood base.
The trick with identifying the quality of veneer lies in the type of wood used in the veneer as well as the base material. For example, if the veneer is of a higher quality than the base material, it will only last as long as the base. So, if the base tends to swell and crack, this will place stress on the veneer, which is supposed to hold it all together.
Although nothing lasts forever, you can identify the quality of veneer by ensuring it is properly attached to its base material. To do this, simply run a fingernail along the veneer's edge. Any loose spots or gaps will cause the veneer to loosen in the future.