Were you told when you were looking for furniture or
cabinetry to make sure the item was made with parota wood? According to local lore, if your dining
table, headboard or kitchen cupboards are not made with this miraculous wood,
the termites will arrive, en masse, and destroy everything in your home. I wish I could collect that proverbial nickel
every time I heard this recommendation over the past ten years. It has become
so prevalent that ex-pats, scared to consider any other option, end up paying
way more for furniture than they need.
Let me be clear. Parota wood is not the best solution.
First, termites eat parota wood too. Termites will eat any wood and are even
known to eat concrete. They prefer softwoods over hardwoods, so the risk is
less if you have parota, a hardwood, but they will still eat it.
All woods, including parota, need to be properly dried in a
kiln and for the correct length of time., If not, the remaining moisture
coupled with warmth or heat, make any wood attractive to termites. Proper drying also means that the piece of
furniture you purchase is unlikely to warp, crack, bow or split. If an issue
should arise, there is a solid one-year warranty provided. Solid wood furniture that is exposed to
strong sunlight or direct heat often splits.
Second, wood should be treated before used to make
furniture. The best manufacturers of
wood furniture treat their products to repel termites and other wood-eating
bugs. As a result, the risk of you
having your entertainment center eaten by termites is incredibly low. The risk is lower than getting a piece of an
untreated piece of parota wood furniture from a local carpenter.
Parota wood is one of the most expensive wood species to use
for furniture. For example, a solid parota wood dining room table that seats 6 is
in the price range of MXN 30,000 (USD 1,400) including tax. That is just for the table. For six chairs, again in parota wood, an
approximate price is about MXN 40,000 (USD 1,850) including tax. Add that up, and you are looking at about MXN 70,000
Furniture manufacturers understand that the average person
does not want to spend that amount of money. To provide a cost-effective
alternative, furniture manufacturers use wood veneers. Now, before you cringe and stop reading,
please hear me out.
The use of wood veneer in furniture is not new. Egyptians used this ancient art form not only
to make furniture but also for sarcophagi.
For the last 200 years, the use of wood veneers has been refined and is
now used consistently in furniture-making.
The famous English designer Chippendale used wood veneers in his
exquisite furniture in the 18th century.
Wood veneer furniture is made by gluing thin layers of wood
in a crisscross design over a substrate or core material. Furniture manufacturers use a glue that is
the same used in marine and aircraft construction. The adhesive is strong and waterproof. As a result, a good veneer is often more
structurally sound than solid wood. With
changes in temperature, solid wood is prone to expand and contract, resulting
in warps, cracks, bows and splits. The materials and processes for wood veneers
mean it will not expand and contract.
Do not confuse wood veneer with cheap laminate. People often
think cheap laminate and wood veneers are the same because both are fused to a
substrate material. Cheap laminate is a faux surface like paper or plastic,
made to look like wood grain, affixed with a substandard glue. In our humid climate, cheaply made laminate
furniture is prone to blister, come apart from the substrate and peel. The substrate swells and attracts termites.
These products should not be confused with good quality wood veneer furniture.
In addition to being cost-effective and more stable than solid
wood, veneers are the more environmentally conscious option. Solid wood is generally sawn into thick
boards. Veneer is sliced into
sheets. For one board or slab of wood,
you can get 32 to 40 veneer surfaces.
With wood veneer, fewer trees are cut, meaning less deforestation.
When it comes to buying furniture for a home in Vallarta,
the more reasonably priced, environmentally friendly, and termite-proof option
is a veneer. So, the next time you hear
someone talking about miraculous parota wood, let them know its an old wives’
If you would like to learn more and view well-made furniture
that is comfortable and lasts in our climate, visit our new showroom at Calle Constitucion
#363A in Old Town Vallarta.
For more fun and info about furniture in Mexico, join our
Facebook Group: Mexico Furniture &