Although extensive research has been conducted in wood surface quality analysis, a unified approach to surface quality characterisation does not exist. Measurements of the variation in surface roughness and surface colour are used widely for the evaluation of wood surface quality. Colour is a basic visual feature for wood and wood-based products. Colour measurement is one of the quality control tests that should be carried out because the colour deviations are spotted easily by the consumers. On the other hand, a common problem faced by plywood manufacturers is panel delamination, for which a major cause is poor quality glue-bonds resulting from rough veneer. Rotary cut veneers with dimensions of 500 nun x 500 mm x 2 mm manufactured from alder (Alnus glutinosa subsp. barbata) and beech (Fagus orientalis Lipsky) logs were used as materials in this study. Veneer sheets were oven-dried in a veneer dryer at 110 degrees C (normal drying temperature) and 180 degrees C (high drying temperature) after peeling process. The surfaces of some veneers were then exposed at indoor laboratory conditions to obtain inactive wood surfaces for glue bonds, and some veneers were treated with borax, boric acid and ammonium acetate solutions. After these treatments, surface roughness and colour measurements were made on veneer surfaces. High temperature drying process caused a darkening on the surfaces of alder and beech veneers. Total colour change value (DE) increased linear with increasing exposure time. Among the treatment solutions, ammonium acetate caused the biggest colour change while treatment with borax caused the lowest changes in Delta E* values. Considerable changes in surface roughness after preservative treatment did not occur on veneer surfaces. Generally, no clear changes were obtained or the values mean roughness profile (R-a) decreased slightly in R-a values after the natural inactivation process. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.