Need to select a veneer? Can’t figure out what wood & stain combo to specify to get the look you want? Or are you looking for a faux wood laminate that will match some millwork you already have? Here’s a tip:
There are companies that specialize in making edge banding for laminates and plywood (heat-applied strip of PVC or other plastic that seals the exposed/cut edge or your board). They will send you a fan deck of their wide range of faux woods if you ask. Try Doellken Woodtape and Rehau.
The edge banding is a far cry from looking like real wood, but the fan decks are useful. They’re sorted by color, and they show a variety of faces. Once you have a general sense of what you’re looking for, you can check out the name of that style and then ask a millworker for real hardwood samples. (Pretty basic stuff so far, I know. Read on.)
You can also go to Doellken and Rehau (click link at right, “Edgeband Color Search”) to look up matching laminates from all the major (and even not so major) laminate manufacturers. You can look it up both ways, by entering a laminate # to find the closest matching edge band, or by entering in an edge band # to find all matching and near-matching laminates. I use the latter as a shortcut to finding the wood laminate I need–instead of combing through all the WilsonArt, Formica, and Abet Laminati chainsets, I just flip through the Doellken fan deck and find the style I want. Then I look up the matching laminate #s and order those samples. Much faster, and you will find manufacturers you’ve never heard of.
You can also do this with colors, not just faux wood. If you’re into that sort of thing.