Since there are so many types of bookshelves and bookcases available on the market today, many people are not sure which one is better and why. Here we will take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of wooden and glass shelves, and also when one is better than the other.
Almost all of the wooden shelves sold today are not actually real wood. Today’s wood shelves are generally made from a solid core of cheaper hardboard or plywood (sometimes called “engineered” wood) and then covered with a finish, paint, or veneer. These shelves are significantly cheaper than real wood and are often lighter and stronger than real wood as well. The best of these shelves are covered with a veneer, which is a thin sheet of real wood. Veneer, if professionally applied, will give you the feel of a real wood shelf even though the core is not real wood. These shelves are not only less expensive, but are increasingly being made from recycled materials, saving trees and protecting the environment at the same time.
As good as veneer is, it is not the same as real wood shelves. If you really want the most beautiful and rich wood colors, real wood shelves are the only way to go, but be prepared to pay for it!
Glass shelves are not all the same. As with wood, you need to know what type of glass the shelves are made of to know what you are buying. When looking for glass shelves, you need to worry about getting shelves that won’t break or chip easily. Most glass will shatter if dropped, but tempered glass is designed not to break into a million tiny fragments. Also, it is less likely to crack or chip if struck. If the glass is heat strengthened, then it is about twice as strong as normal (annealed) glass.
Thickness is also an important element in determining storage resistance. A thick standard glass shelf could easily be sturdier than a thinner tempered glass shelf. Glass shelving must be rated for the weight allowed on the shelves. Please ask carefully before buying.
When one is better than the other
Okay, now that we know a little more about glass vs. wood, when one is better than the other. When deciding between the two, ask yourself a few questions:
1. What am I putting on these shelves?
If you are placing heavy or large items on the shelf, or large books, then wood might be the best option. While there are sturdy glass shelves available, you don’t want to take chances or start weighing every item you want on the shelf. With wood, just fill the shelf and get a good night’s sleep knowing it will hold.
However, if you display a collection of baseballs, vases, golf balls, or anything else that’s small, glass shelves highlight the collection and draw attention to what’s on the shelf, rather than the shelf. per se.
2. Where are these shelves going to be in my house?
If you want a shelf for your kitchen, for example, it’s easier to clean grease from glass than it is from wood. Toxic cleaners won’t affect glass, but they can chew wood pretty badly. The same goes for moisture and waste found in a bathroom.
If you want these shelves in your living room, you may prefer the warmth and cozy feel that wood gives over the cool, modern look of glass.
3. Who will have access to these shelves?
Kids are great, but accidents happen. One hit will not only damage or even break a glass shelf, it could also cut the person who hit the shelf.
4. What kind of lighting is available for this shelf?
Lighting is important to highlight the contents of the shelves. If you are putting books on the shelves, the only really important thing is to see the spine. If you have smaller items that you want to display, then with glass shelves you get a lot more visibility, especially of things that are in the back of the lower shelves.
Glass or wood, you have many options and decisions to make. If you’re interested in more information and lots of tips, take a look at the Home Shelving Guide for answers to all your shelving and storage needs.