How to Apply Wood Veneer with Contact Cement

What You'll Need
Wood veneer
Denatured alcohol
Notched trawl or arborite
Veneer scraper, 12x6 inches (made of scrap wood)
Veneer cutter
Contact cement
MDF or similar substrates

A wood veneer is a type of construction material that can lend a classic wood finish to fixtures, areas or spaces at a fraction of a cost. Veneers are actually thin strips of wood and are used in a variety of applications, such as panels and tops for tables, floors, and doors.

Also with wood veneers, people have the opportunity of using rare and expensive woods without putting a dent in their pocketbooks.

Applying wood veneers with contact cement can be a challenging task and requires a certain level of skill. When done incorrectly, unsightly bubbles can appear on your veneer or it may peel off or give way easily.

Step 1: Preparing the Area and the Wood Veneer

Place the wood veneer and the MDF substrate in the intended area for at least 48 hours to allow the two to adjust to prevailing climactic conditions. Clean the surface of the intended area, the back of the wood veneer and MDF of dust, oil, grease or other foreign materials that may affect the binding of the materials. You can use denatured alcohol for this purpose.

Step 2: Applying Contact Cement

Mix the solid and solvent components of the contact cement thoroughly. It is also recommended to use a contact cement that contains a lot of solids. Next, using an arborite or a notched trawl, spread the mixture to the surface of the intended area, the backside of the MDF substrate and wood veneer.  Do a back and forth motion until all the areas concerned are fully covered. For substrates, apply two coats of contact cement. Let the first coat dry out completely before applying the next coat.

Make sure not to leave any blobs as this will become evident and will appear as bulges on the veneer when attached on the surface. Leave the adhesives to dry until consistency becomes tacky. Do not leave it for too long as you may have to re-apply contact cement.

Step 3: Attaching Wood Veneer to the Surface

Place the backside of the wood veneer on the “untouched” area of the MDF and press firmly until they are securely bonded. Next place the “glued” side of the MDF to the surface. Hammer down to make sure that they bond completely. Using a veneer scraper, smooth-out the wood veneer, starting from the center outwards to the edges. Apply maximum pressure to make sure that the veneer holds firmly into place. Cut off excess edges using a veneer cutter.

When applying wood veneers to surfaces, it is recommended that humidity levels are below 51 percent to prevent shrinking of the veneers.

Skill and patience is required when applying wood veneer with contact cement. A properly installed wood veneer can provide significant dividends in the long run as it can add beauty and appeal to fixtures and areas such as tables, doors, and floors.