What is Teak Wood: All You Need to Know About Teak Timber

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Every homeowner loves beautiful and durable wood products. But, over time, they have become unsustainable and of low quality. To acquire good wood products, you need to consider the wood they are made of.

Teak wood is known for its outstanding beauty and durability. Our expert woodworkers will help you learn more about this type of wood.

Teak Characteristics Summary

Common NameTeak
Burmese Teak
Genuine Teak
Scientific NameTectona Grandis
Dried Weight (average)40.9 lbs/ft3 (655 kg/m3)
Tree Size30 to 40 meters tall
1 to 1.5 meters of trunk diameter
Gravity Specifics0.55, 0.66
Density/Janka Scale Rating1,070 lbf (4,740 N)
Rupture Modulus14,080 lbf/in2
Elastic Modulus1,781,000 lbf/in2 
Crush Strength7,940 lbf/in2 
ShrinkageRadial: 2.6%
Tangential: 5.3%
SourceAsia, Africa, Central, and South America
ColorGolden to medium brown
Common UsesFurniture, building ships and boats, veneer, carving, exterior construction, small wood products
Estimated Price$25 to $28 per board foot

What is Teak?

Teak is a dense wood with high silica and natural oil contents. It is considered one of the most durable, strongest, and hardest timbers available in the market today. 

teak logs

Teak wood is resistant to rotting and damage caused by harsh climates, such as too much sunlight, rain, or snow. Therefore, it is a preferred lumber of wood craftsmen and is one of the market’s most valuable and sought-after timbers. 

Origin of Teak

Teak originally came from Southern Asia. However, to supply the high demand for Teak wood, it is now naturally grown in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. 

How Fast this Tree Grows

Teak wood is one of the fast-growing tropical woods, which can grow an average of 0.5 inches per day. However, it would still take 20 to 25 years before a fully mature teak tree can be harvested. 

Color and Appearance

Teak wood has unique color properties, almost similar to a walnut timber. Because of its color, many people want to buy and use it for different purposes. Teak wood is appreciated because of its rich and lustrous color, which is a natural golden brown.

Does the Color Change Over Time?

Teak wood’s golden-brown color mainly depends on the innate oils of the wood that may eventually dry especially if exposed to sunlight. 

teak round table

Therefore, its color may change over time. Typically, the golden-brown color can stay up to 9-12 months when the wood is kept outdoors. After that period, it will gradually change to silvery-grey color.

Teak’s Grain Pattern and Texture

Teak wood has a straight grain pattern, although some teak wood may have interlocked or wavy grain patterns. On the other hand, raw teak wood has a greasy or oily texture due to its natural oil content.  

End grain Features

Below are the outstanding grain patterns of teak wood that sets it apart from other types of wood.

Porosity

Teak is a semi-ring to ring-porous or diffuse-porous, which may have medium pores, making it ideal for woodworking procedures. 

Arrangement

The earlywood pores of the teak wood are arranged on a single row which is distinctively larger than the latewood pores. This creates growth ring boundaries, resulting in beautiful patterns that make teak wood appealing. 

teak slabs
Vessels

Teak wood vessels can grow from large to very large during the earlywood stage and medium to large during latewood sage. These vessel variations indicate the adaptability of teak wood to grow in natural conditions.

Parenchyma

Teak wood has banded parenchyma, sometimes forming wide marginal bands that can enclose the whole earlywood pores. 

Rays

Rays in hardwood are important to determine its strength capability. Teak wood has medium-width rays with normal spacing. 

Hardwood or Softwood?

Teak is a hardwood. It is a strong wood that derives its strength from its closed-grain properties. With this, teak wood is a kind of timber or lumber that can withstand rain and temperature variations without being damaged as compared to other types of wood. 

How Hard/Dense is Teak Timber

Wood hardness is measured through Janka Wood Hardness Scale. The higher the result, the harder the wood is. Teak wood has a hardness of 1,070 lbf, which is higher than other types of wood, such as Cedar, Spruce, Pine, and Fir

pallet made of teak

Also, the Teak timber is heavy, which means it is sturdy. Dried Teak has an average weight of 40.9 lbs/ft3 or 655 kg/m3, which is also heavier than other wood types. 

Common Uses of Teak

Teak is used for various types of furniture, boat and shipbuilding, exterior construction, veneer, carving, and other wood products for selling

Is it Ideal for Outdoor Use?

The answer is yes. Teak wood is ideal for outdoor use, like garden furniture. One of the reasons is that it can withstand different weather conditions because of its high oil contents that stay for a long time. 

Teak is also easy to maintain even when left outside. It is easy to clean using a mixture of warm water and vinegar. It is also not prone to cracking or decay, making it a durable, long-lasting wood.

Is Using Teak Eco-Friendly? Are Teak Trees Endangered?

Teak is renewable and sustainable, so using teak does not disrupt the ecosystem or harm the environment. Teak trees are also not endangered [1]. 

teak table

However, the government closely monitors the teak sustainability through replanting programs. 

Alternatives to Teak

Ideally, you would want to use teak for your projects, but it can be expensive and may be harder to obtain. But there are other wood alternatives to teak which have almost the same properties but are cheaper and readily available.

One of the best alternatives is greenheart. It is as durable and tough as teak wood and has high natural oil content that gives a rich brown color and protects the wood from rotting.

Another good alternative is ekki wood. It is durable marine timber that can be submerged in water and withstand great pressures. 

Iroko can also be used as an alternative to teak wood. Although it is not as durable, its properties are close enough to teak wood. It is also cheaper and has no supply scarcity in the market. 

Other Things to Know About Teak Timbers

Availability/Pricing

While there are many teak plantations and cultivations worldwide, teak is relatively priced higher. In fact, large-sized and non-figured teak wood is one of the most expensive timbers on the market today.

teak wood

Toxicity

Teak wood can be a sensitizer for some people. This means that repeated exposure or contact with it may cause an immediate allergic reaction.

Rot- and Water-Resistance

Teak is very durable and decay-resistant. However, it is only moderately resistant to marine borers.

Odor

Due to teak’s high oil content, it produces the smell of fresh leather, which is distinctive to teak wood.

Workability

Teak is compatible with almost all wood projects. The only downside is its high silica content, which may cause a noticeable blunting result on cutting edges. 

Also, since Teak has high oil content, so you may need to rob the wood surface with solvent gluing or finishing.

Speaking of oil finishes, you might want to check this teak, tung, and linseed comparison to know which is the best wood finish. 

Teak Furniture Durability and Lifespan

Teak furniture can last for a minimum of 75 years. Although some imperfections may develop over time, they will not affect the durability and integrity of the furniture. 

teak furniture

Does it Age and Weather?

It weathers to a silvery-grey color over time due to its exposure to different weather conditions. However, teak aging only affects its surface and does not shorten its lifespan.

FAQ

Why are teak timbers expensive?

Teak may be expensive compared to the price of other woods because of its exceptional durability. It can last a very long time without diminishing its aesthetic value. Therefore, it is the preferred wood if you want a high-quality wood product.

Why do teak timbers crack?

Teak is very durable. However, it can crack over time due to its exposure to different weather conditions. A sudden change in temperature may cause the weak area of the wood to develop small cracks.

Conclusion

It is important to choose the right type of wood for your projects and explore all your options. As a popular choice, teak wood can be appropriate for almost all types of wood products.

It may seem expensive at first, but if you consider its durability and beauty, it is worth it and may even cost you less than other types of wood in the long run. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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