What Is Teak Wood & Why It Is So Great?

We often talk about teak, especially in the garden furniture, but not everyone knows what is teak wood and why it is precious. 
With this post we want to try to explain everything you need to know when it comes to teak.

What is Teak Wood

Teak is a tropical wood species that when new has a superb honey brown color. Thanks to the natural teak oil contained in the wood, your teak is resistant to all weather conditions and can therefore be left outside all year round.

Teak is a tropical hardwood tree that belongs to the Lamiaceae (lat. Lamiaceae) family. It is native to southern and southeastern Asia and is commonly a component of Asian tropical and subtropical forests. It is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 40 m tall. The diameter of the trunks reaches 150 cm. The bark is colored in a silvery or gray-brown hue. Leaves are oval in shape with smooth edges on a thick petiole (2-4 cm) in length reach 45 cm, and in width up to 23 cm.

The teak is obtained from tropical trees of the genus known as “Tectona” (classification of Linnaeus) which grows in natural forests of the Indian peninsula, in particular in Myanmar and in Thailand. The most suitable areas for production are the rainy ones, where a decidedly dry season always alternates with a highly humid one at altitudes that often reach 1500 m above sea level.

Types of Teak Wood

Depending on the origin of the Teak wood, it is possible to have different materials in color and structural characteristics. 

It is therefore good to recognize, one by one, which are the most common types of teak wood and to understand their general characteristics:

1.African Teak wood is a plantation tree started almost a century ago, characterized by slow growth. Unlike other types of teak (for example the Asian one), the African teak is drier, devoid of oily resin ,much closer to a classic common wood and this means that the wood does not maintain its water-repellent characteristics.

Instead of Asian teak these characteristics of African wood make it necessary to carry out those typical treatments, carried out on the surface, in order to defend the Teak from the action of atmospheric agents and from the attack of parasites and fungi.

2. Asian Teak wood is the best known commercially and includes the following species:

  • Common Teak (also called Tectona grandis) known for its excellent technical characteristics, such as its good ability to resist atmospheric agents, thermal variations, humidity, water and saltiness; it is widely used for the construction of external flooring; 
  • Teak Burma (also called Burmese teak or with the technical name of Tectona Hamiltoniana and known in the rest of the world as Teck Dahat) is the most valuable species, both for its characteristic grain and because it is a species at risk of extinction.
  • Indonesian teak that comes from forests, or from cultivation.
  • Philippine teak (called Tectona philippinensis) is also at risk of extinction.
  • Natural teak imported into Europe is made up of a single specimen, namely Burma or Burmese, since all the others are processed or planted woods.
  • Synthetic teak , equally beautiful and expensive, is made from pvc materials. It has numerous advantages and disadvantages compared to natural wood, since it is easy to clean, does not absorb liquids, does not require special detergents for cleaning, resists saltiness, does not require continuous maintenance and is always priced. fixed, moreover it does not change the color much and is non-slip.

How can you tell if wood is teak?

how to identify teak

By evaluating, the appearance of teak wood, a series of characteristics are revealed, even to the naked eye that make the difference compared to others. In fact, teak is characterized by a medium- fine texture , by a generally straight grain and by very noticeable and marked veins .

The natural color, moreover, ranges from light yellow, almost whitish for the sapwood, from brown-chocolate, to red or even black of the heartwood, sometimes it can also take on a greenish aspect, or brownish – grayish, however with exposure to light, Teak is subjected to oxidation and the wood tends to become more uniform with color tones reaching golden.

Teak or not real teak? I have written an easy guide how you can easily identify real teak wood and not get deceived of fake furniture!

Color may vary depending on harvesting location, age of cutting and product life. Teak is usually dark golden, has a slightly dull sheen when polished and has a nice grain texture. The sapwood is colored in a white or grayish tint and if it’s freshly cu the wood is reddish, but quickly turns golden or beige with a predominance of brown tints. Over the years, and without coating the teak wood acquire a silvery-gray tone under the influence of ultraviolet radiation.

What type of wood is teak?

Teak is a medium-weight hardwood with strength properties similar to oak. It is generally easy to processed and produces smooth surfaces and edges if carbide-tipped tools are used to avoid rapid blunting due to silica deposits.

Properties of Teak WoodBehavior
ResistanceGood. 
Teak resists bending and bumps.
Hardness (predisposition to oppose penetration, expressed in kg / mm²)Average. 
Teak can be classified as soft wood.
DurabilityExcellent. 
Teak, in fact, is a wood that lasts over time, reacting optimally to water, insects, atmospheric agents and thermal excursions.
Stability(resistance to deformation)High.
PorosityHigh. 
Although Teak is a moderately porous wood, its oily nature does not allow it to easily absorb water and humidity.
Drying Or SeasoningTeak is not very sensitive to aging.
Workability and Ease of CuttingGood workability, despite Teak being a hard wood.
Specific WeightTeak is defined as a heavy wood, with compact fiber, with a weight of about 650 kg / mc (dried wood)

What is teak wood color?

teak wood color

When new, teak has a typically golden brown color with a fine dark to black grain. This coloring can fade over time as well as through light and weather and turn silver-gray. The heartwood is yellow-green when fresh. When it dries, it darkens and develops its typical light brown to yellowish brown color. A golden shimmer is also not uncommon.

When untreated teak is exposed to the elements, the original color takes on a patina and gradually takes on silvery gray tones, so characteristic of teak. The structure of the wood becomes a little rougher. If the wood is not treated at this stage, the silver gray patina turns dark gray. 

The sapwood is narrow, grayish or white. Freshly sawn teak has a reddish tint, but under the influence of the atmosphere quickly takes on a warm beige or golden brown tinge. Over time, the wood in the room, even when varnished, darkens somewhat. Uncoated with protective oils or varnishes, it becomes silvery-gray when exposed to open sunlight.

Want to varnish your teak furniture? I have written this step by step guide how you can varnish wood!

What is teak wood used for?

Teak was initially used for shipbuilding , both for planking and for deck flooring. Given the particular characteristics of this wood, it was later also used for windows , patio furniture , furniture , floors , swimming pool edges and structures exposed to the outside.

Teak can be used for both indoor and outdoor use. Due to its high resistance to fungi, insects and chemicals, many people like to use this tropical wood for garden furniture.

A wide variety of furniture is made from teak, such as garden benches and chairs for outdoors as well as seating, floor coverings, moldings, windows and doors for indoors. Even outside the home environment, the wood is used in shipbuilding and construction.

Thanks to its qualities of hardness, quality, Teak is used in various fields, especially where strong water resistance is particularly required, namely:

  • the Maritime Industry (for manufacture of decks and furnishings for boats);
  • In carpentry ;
  • The furnishing of gardens and sheds ;
  • For the construction of shelves, doors, windows, wooden floors (parquet), stairs ;
  • Construction of fine furniture ;
  • For cabinet-making works ;
  • Production of turned items ;
  • Manufacture of high quality furniture or joinery;
  • Boats. because of it’s incredible resistance to moisture and insects, and quite light;
  • Manufacture of Wood veneers;
  • Exterior and interior carpentry: floors, friezes, cladding, windows
  • Outdoor furniture because of its natural resistance
  • Port infrastructures and bridges. Even with elements in direct contact with water.
  • Turning.
  • Façade cladding.
  • Staircase.

All teak woods must be treated before giving it the use for which it is intended. If it is to be used in its roll form, the basic treatment consists of debarking, sanding, fumigating and varnishing. Drying is also an important stage in the preparation of the teak wood.

Want to treat your teak furniture? If so, then check this easy guide how you can do treat your favorite teak furniture!

Teak wood is particularly recommended for the construction of houses, where it can be used as wood for the manufacture of columns, beams and joists. It is also very useful as sawn wood for the manufacture of outdoor furniture, doors, gates, windows, floors, ceilings, tongue and groove, railings, fences and gates.

Teak wood is commonly used in the manufacture of all kinds of garden furniture, signs, structures, given its resistance to climatic factors of insolation and rain. In the same way, it is highly appreciated by cabinetmakers for the manufacture of interior furniture. The growth rings in the heartwood of the wood give it a special appeal, which together with a fine finish results in furniture of great quality and prestige.

Teak wood is frequently used in marine constructions, due to its resistance and durability against environmental agents such as insolation, saltpeter and humidity. Other frequent uses are boats, freighters, cargo planes, cruise ships, luxury ocean liners, refined ships, as well as work boats such as fishing bridges, docks, overflow gates, ironing.

Other applications where teak is used is for power line poles, wall panels, boxes, railroad ties. One of the most popular uses is the making of kitchen utensils, musical instruments, and toys.

Why is teak wood good for furniture?

teak outdoor furniture

Here are the reasons why teak wood is good for furniture:

1.Moisture resistant

The high saturation of the pore with oils gives teak wood exceptional resistance to moisture, even with constant contact with water. Teak has been used for many centuries in shipbuilding and the production of furniture for wet areas: bathrooms, saunas, swimming pools, as well as furniture sets for gazebos, terraces, patios and outdoor garden areas.

2.Resistant to fire

Wood resin is known to burn brightly, for a long time and can be used to create a torch. But teak wood does not burn very well because of it’s oil content, so it is resistant to fire.

3.Wood Stability

The stability of wood is an indicator of how much the it’s volume a wood changes after drying, how much it dries out. Teak wood does not lose volume after drying this means a teak terrace or deck covering will not crack.

4.Has a medium density

Excessively high wood density is a problem. After all, dense wood is more prone to warping (deformation). Warping can be observed when boards dry unevenly, for example, when they “go with a screw” during drying. The average density of teak is 650 kg / m³, which is an acceptable average.

5. High resistance to mold and fungi

The presence of silicon and tannins in teak wood – tanning and astringent substances that inhibit the development of pathogenic organisms, protects the tree from damage and eating by woodworms. Garden furniture made of teak, even without a protective coating, can withstand rain, snow, heat for many years – while it does not deteriorate, does not dry out or darken.

Teak wood is saturated with various wood oils (hence it is sometimes called “oily”). They are a natural antiseptic. Due to their special chemical composition, microbes and fungi do not develop in teak wood. Therefore, teak products are highly resistant to mold and rot without any processing.

Learn here how to remove mold from wood with easy step by step instruction!

6.It does not require special care

Teak furniture requires little maintenance. All you need to do is wipe with a damp cloth from time to time. When it comes to deck coverage or open terraces, then cleaning is a little more difficult, but this is not due to the teak itself, but to external conditions: a large amount of dust, moisture and sunlight.

Teak wood is commonly used in the manufacture of all types of garden furniture due to its great resistance to bad weather. It is also highly appreciated by cabinetmakers for the manufacture of interior furniture. The growth rings in the heartwood of the wood give it a special appeal, which together with a fine finish results in furniture of high quality and recognized prestige.

7.Weather resistant : The precious wood can withstand strong UV radiation as well as rain, frost and snow. The natural oils also ensure that the surface of the wood is weatherproof even without special treatment.

8.No cracking: When properly dried, the wood is safe from cracks and splintering. The risk of pulling in a piece of wood is therefore low.

9.Non-slippery: A great advantage of teak is that the natural, rubber-like layer on its surface means that it is not slippery even when it is wet.

10.Attractive appearance: teak has a beautiful honey-brown color with an even wood structure.

The advantages of teak wood, its features have made it so popular. 

Disadvantages of Teak Wood

Although teak is a highly recommended wood for exterior surfaces, it does come with a few disadvantages:

1.Tool wear : The density and the rubber content cause your tool to wear out more quickly than with native wood species.

2.Harmful wood dust: The wood dust from teak can irritate the skin and mucous membranes. In sensitive people, asthmatic symptoms or dermatitis can be the result.

3.Bad environmental balance: Long transport routes over several thousand kilometers by water and land cause high CO2 emissions. Teak also needs to be dried well. This takes place in on-site drying chambers, which use a lot of energy to counteract the high humidity.

4.Threat to the rainforest: Although teak is not in itself an endangered type of wood, its extraction contributes significantly to the deforestation of the rainforest, for example by draining rivers or clearing for transport routes. Monoculture plantations can also damage soil quality and cause erosion.

Why is teak wood so expensive?

Several decades ago, only the wealthiest people could afford teak furniture. At that time, Teak was a rare, exotic and even extravagant product.
Today the world seems smaller. Stores all over the world come to Asia to buy Teak Furniture. It’s good news ! What was a luxury product until recently, Teak furniture is affordable today.

Despite its high price, it is a good investment as this furniture will last a lifetime. In Latin America, a cubic meter of teak reaches a value of between US $ 200 and US $ 300 depending on the quality. but in Asian countries it reaches a price of between US $ 900 and US $ 1,000.

Certainly objects made from Teak Wood may have higher values ​​than those made from other materials of less durability.

However, think about it: buying quality furniture at a higher cost can be much more interesting than buying something disposable, and that needs to be replaced or requires frequent maintenance.

In the end, what must be considered is the cost benefit, that is, the advantages of investing a little more to obtain something more durable, beautiful and qualified. In conclusion, the cost of teak wood is fully justified by its unique properties.

Is teak durable?

It is ultra resistant and does not require a lot of maintenance

Beyond its beautiful honey color, teak is also known for its durability. It has natural properties that European woods do not have, such as resistance to humidity and weathering. Coming from countries with a humid climate, this wood is therefore perfectly suited for outdoors!

Being very rich in oily substances, teak wood is more resistant to atmospheric agents, insects and parasites, and is therefore considered one of the best woods for the production of outdoor furniture. 

Considered one of the most durable (along with ebony and boxwood), it also resists bumps and bending well .

Click here to learn how to bend wood like a professional in 5 easy steps!

Is teak wood waterproof?

In addition to its good stability, its high resistance to water, cracking or rupture must be added, as it has a natural oil that makes teak wood waterproof, which makes it a wood widely used in shipbuilding. It is also an optimal wood for exteriors, being able to adapt to extreme weather conditions.

Teak is protected by its own natural oils that migrate to the surface of the wood and make the wood practically waterproof

After a few years in the outdoor teak need to be oiled to give him protection! This guide I wrote will help you step by step!

When dried to a suitable humidity level (around 10% of its original content), the oils and rubber make teak wood completely waterproof and protect it from attack by fungi and other pests.

Is teak a hard or soft wood?

Teak is a subtropical hardwood found in the mixed forests of Southeast Asia. Is a hard and moisture resistant wood. Teak is resistant to deformations, cracks and deterioration and is best used in outdoor furniture, doors, window frames, floors and in more humid areas.

Here is a list with top 15 hardest woods in the world! If teak wood that strong!

How long does teak furniture last? 

Teak has no age, teak furniture can last up to 100+ years. Teak resists natural weathering very well and its resins and oils also prevent rot. The really great thing about teak is that it doesn’t split or warp like other woods. Due to this property, teak was the main building material for ships in the past and is still used in modern boats and yachts.

Learn here how you can age your teak furniture to give it an old retro style!

Teak wood is also extremely robust. It derives this strength from its proportion of rubber and its high content of oil and resin which makes its fibers flexible and resistant to shocks. It also has a common resistance to pests of all kinds. 

Finally, teak furniture is resistant to all climatic conditions, even the most extreme. The sun, rain, snow, frost have no influence on this wood which also has the particularity of being hardly flammable. With such quality, a teak piece of furniture cannot be free, nevertheless the price to be put even high is not excessive, because its quality / price ratio is one of the best on the market.

Is it common for a teak bench, chair or table to last 70 years in the outdoor and it is also common for such furniture to be passed on to future generations.

What is the price of Teak?

PRICE PER CUBIC METER:

The trade often gives the price of wood per cubic meter. This corresponds to a wooden cube with a side length of one meter. A cubic meter of solid teak wood results in a price of 6,500 to 7,500 euros . 

For comparison: real mahogany is priced at around half that price at EUR 3,500 to EUR 4,000, while domestic spruce is around a tenth of this price at around EUR 600. Teak is one of the most expensive precious woods. For particularly high-quality wood, cubic meter prices of up to 10,000 euros can arise.

PRICE FOR FLOORING:

If you opt for a sturdy wooden floor made of teak, you can expect around 150 to 200 euros per square meter for the interior . The parquet floor is then ready to be laid.

 This is due to the fact that these boards usually need less processing beforehand. You can expect a price of around 80 euros per square meter for your terrace . However, the costs for the substructure have not yet been budgeted for here.

Special ship deck panels cost around 300 to 400 euros per square meter. These are designed for the special requirements on the ship and are therefore correspondingly expensive.

PRICE FOR GARDEN FURNITURE:

In the field of garden furniture, it is not possible to determine an exact price, since the design and function of the piece of furniture also play a role in determining the price, in addition to material costs. 

One example is a set of garden furniture made of solid wood with a table (2 x 1 meters) and the associated bench, which costs 1,700 euros. A single garden chair made of solid teak costs around 200 euros. Furniture for indoor use is priced similarly.

Is teak wood furniture easy to clean?

Teak furniture is relatively easy to care for and easy to clean. Due to the high oil and resin content, the tropical wood is self-caring. If there is light superficial soiling, it is sufficient to wipe the affected area with a slightly damp cloth. In the case of stubborn stains, you can treat the stains with a little soap. If the stains cannot be removed, you can sand the affected area with emery paper.

If you want to avoid a silver-gray patina, you should use teaksealers, especially for garden furniture, and treat your garden furniture with them once a year. Since teak dealers have a relatively high price, you can also choose the cheaper option: teak oil or teak wax. However, these care products should be applied three to four times per season in order to get the desired effect.

Conclusions

The stability of wood and a long service life makes teak one of the best wood species in the world, and furniture or finishing made of this material allows you not to spend many tens of years on repair or replacement.

Thanks to its excellent properties in use and care, teak is an ideal wood for visually appealing and easy-care furniture indoors and outdoors as well as many other areas of application. Thanks to special products that underline the special properties of teak, its noble shine can be retained for a long time. When purchasing the wood, however, attention should be paid to signs of sustainable cultivation and shipping.

Is teak resistant to time?

Yes, the high rubber content of teak gives it a robust and oily consistency. This tropical wood is resistant to insects and bacteria. It takes on a patina and turns gray over time, this patina can easily be removed with a brush or sandpaper.

What is recycled teak?

From the name it can already be seen that this is a type of wood that is reused. 
It was used in the past and can be used again for garden furniture. 
It can have a different origin, for example in that it was previously part of houses or ships.
Recycling teak is not only an environmentally friendly solution, it is also considered a material with character. 

Does teak need to be cared for or oiled?

Thanks to the high rubber content, teak does not require any additional maintenance. 
Twice a year you should remove dust and other dirt from the teak furniture with a brush and warm soapy water. 
If you don’t like the gray patina that develops after approx. 4 months, you should oil your teak furniture regularly.