Different Types of Teak Wood

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Teak wood is a highly prized hardwood native to Southeast Asia, particularly India, Indonesia, and Myanmar. It is known for its durability, water resistance, and natural oils that protect it from insects and rot. Teak wood is often used for outdoor furniture, decking, and boat building, as well as indoor furniture and cabinetry.  If you want to use teak for your woodwork, procuring it can be a confusing task as it grows in many parts of the world and goes by many different names.

Genuine Teak wood has the universal botanical name Tectona grandis. Although teak wood comes from the same tree, it varies according to the region where the trees grow. The tone of teak wood can range from golden or medium brown, the grain is generally straight and the wood is naturally rot-resistant. 

While Tectona grandis is the primary species of teak used in woodworking, there are a few other lesser-known species of teak that may be utilized as well.

These species are often used as alternatives or substitutes for true teak (Tectona grandis) due to their similar appearance and properties.

However, it is important to note that these species may not have the same level of durability, weather resistance, and natural oils as true teak. Here are a few common species of teak used in woodworking:

But first, let’s look at the different grades of wood that you can get despite where it was cultivated and the different types of teak according to region.

Types of Teak Wood (Based on Grade)

round teak wood stump background. Trees cut section for background texture

As a woodworker, you may be concerned about whether you are getting genuine teak or not. We discuss the hazards of imitation teak in another interesting post of ours. Even once you get genuine teak, you need to be aware of the different grades, to get a suitable grade for your woodworking projects. Here are the three grades of teak:

Grade A Teak

It is the highest quality of teak that you can get, usually obtained from the heartwood of mature teak trees (typically 40-60 years old). The timber of Grade A teak comes from the center of the tree, known as the heartwood. It is completely mature and has the highest oil content of all three grades.

You can identify Grade A teak by its golden-brown color and is highly resistant to rot, insects, and harsh weather conditions due to the high oil content. This grade of teak is extremely durable and stable, which means that it will not warp or crack easily. Grade A teak is the most expensive grade of teak. It occupies only a fifth to a quarter of the entire log.

Grade A teak is dense, rich in natural oils, and features a tight grain pattern. This type of teak is ideal for premium outdoor furniture and luxury boat building.

Grade B Teak

This grade of teak comes from the sapwood, which is the outer and often green part of the tree trunk. It comprises a fourth to a third of the log from which it is cut. This grade of wood is lighter in color and has less oil content. Due to this reason, Grade B teak is less durable than Grade A teak. The wood has an uneven grain pattern and may warp and crack more readily.

Grade B teak is often used for more affordable outdoor furniture, as well as some indoor furniture and decorative items.

Grade C Teak

Grade C teak is at the bottom of the ladder of the teak grading system. This timber comes from the outer sections of the tree around the region of the sapwood. The color is inconsistent and the wood is susceptible to damage due to its inherent softness. It is the least expensive grade of teak.

This grade of teak contains very few natural oils, so it lacks durability and the good looks of Grade A and Grade B teak. Grade C teak will deteriorate rapidly even with protective coatings. Grade C teak is significantly lighter in color, and has a looser grain pattern.

This type of teak is not ideal for outdoor use, as it lacks the durability and weather resistance of higher-grade teak wood. Grade C teak is often used for budget furniture, construction purposes and other indoor applications.

Types of Teak Wood

The different grades of teak that we have discussed above can come from different regions of the world. The quality of teak depends on where it comes from. So, without much further ado, let’s discuss the different types of teak that come from different parts of the world:

Teak (Tectona grandis)

Stack of teak wood log

This is the most widely known and used teak species, native to Southeast Asia. It is considered the best choice for outdoor furniture, boat building, and other applications due to its strength, durability, and high oil content.

While Tectona grandis is the primary species of teak used in woodworking, there are a few other lesser-known species of teak that may be utilized as well.

These species are often used as alternatives or substitutes for true teak (Tectona grandis) due to their similar appearance and properties. However, it is important to note that these species may not have the same level of durability, weather resistance, and natural oils as true teak. Here are a few common species of teak used in woodworking:

Dahat Teak or Burma Teak (Tectona Hamiltoniana)

Natural Dark burma teak wood veneer close up image. natural text

Tectona hamiltoniana: Also known as “Dahat Teak” or “Burma Teak,” this species is native to Myanmar (Burma) and is considered a close relative to Tectona grandis. Its wood has similar characteristics to true teak, making it a suitable alternative for various woodworking projects.It is the costliest and most durable form of teak in the world.  The trees are more than 50 years old and the wood is the highest quality that you can get. Burma teak has a golden-brown color, with a smooth texture and evenly distributed wood grain pattern. Although the number of existing Dahat teak tree specimens is unknown, this variety of teak is on the endangered species list.

Banuywangi Teak

This is a variation of Indian teak and you get it from India. It costs slightly less than Indian Teak or Burma Teak. Although Banuywangi teak is quite strong and possesses the regular properties of teak, it does not have the characteristic golden-brown color of teak.

Indonesian Teak

Close of a teak table made of old Indonesian teak wood
Image Credit: Guaka via Creative Commons

We also call Indonesian teak Asian teak wood. It bears many similarities to Burma teak. The timber is harvested after 30 years. This type of teak is of extremely high quality due to the suitable soil and weather conditions.

However, the quality of Indonesian teak is slightly less than that of Burma teak. Indonesian teak has a wider grain, a high level of natural oil content and sound knots. It is light brown with a subtle grayish hue.

Bojonegoro Teak

Also a native of Indonesia, Bojonegoro teak is one of the best qualities of teak produced in the market. Bojonegoro is a regency in East Java, Indonesia. The wood is golden-brown with a straight grain structure, although waviness may also occur.

This teak has a history of widespread timber smuggling. There was even violence between law enforcement agents and timber smugglers in the region. Today the situation is better and more controlled but illegal logging of Bojonegoro teak still continues.

Philippine Teak (Tectona philippinensis)

Native to the Philippines, this species is known as “Philippine Teak” or “Molave.” again is an endangered wood species similar to Dahat Teak. It grows in the islands of the Philippines. Even though it is on the endangered wood species list, you can still find furniture made of Philippine teak, due to illegal logging activities. You should be wary of any such teak or furniture if you do not want to promote illegal activities. Dealing with illegal Philippine teak can result in criminal prosecution.

Thailand Teak

Thailand teak is regarded as superior even to Burmese teak. The forests where it grows in Thailand offer the best-growing conditions for teak trees. Thailand teak possesses the best teak-like qualities like strength, fine wood grain and color. But you cannot easily find this teak in the market.

African Plantation Teak

This wood comes from plantations where the trees are harvested after 15 to 25 years. The wood hasn’t had enough time to produce sufficient natural oil. African plantation teak wood does not possess the durability of Burma teak or Indonesian teak. The color is light with a widely arranged wood grain pattern. The wood also contains several knots.

South American Plantation Teak

South American plantation teak resembles African teak wood in color, natural oil content and general quality. As the name suggests, it grows in South American plantations under controlled conditions. You will find it difficult to differentiate between South American and African plantation teak.

African Teak (Iroko)

Iroko texture
Image Credit: Philipp Zinger vis Creative Commons

African teak wood is not teak but it is called iroko. It is a very stable and water-resistant wood but does not resemble teak in appearance. The grain pattern is straight and the wood is free from knots. This wood also shows a fair degree of resistance to rot and insect attack. It serves as a suitable substitute for teak.

Scientifically known as Milicia excelsa, Iroko is a hardwood native to tropical Africa. While not a true teak, it shares similar properties, such as durability and weather resistance, making it a popular alternative for outdoor furniture and marine applications.

Caribbean Teak (Tabebuia spp.):

This is not a specific species but a group of hardwoods belonging to the Tabebuia genus, native to the Caribbean and Central and South America.

These woods, such as Tabebuia Rosea and Tabebuia Serratifolia, are often used as teak alternatives for furniture, cabinetry, and decking due to their durability and attractive appearance.

South American Teak Wood

Here again, is a variety of wood that we call teak but it is not – it is Garapa. However, this wood is extremely stable and durable. It has a golden-brown color not unlike teak but with a wavy wood grain pattern. South American teak wood also makes a good teak substitute.

Chinese “Teak” (Robinia Pseudoacacia)

Robinia cross section
Robinia. Image Credit: Lumbar~commonswiki via Creative Commons

This variety of teak is also not teak but has the name of Robinia wood, better known as black locust. In appearance, Chinese teak resembles natural teak wood, and you will find it difficult to distinguish between the two. The advantage is that although Chinese teak shares many similarities with real teak, you can get it more readily and at a fraction of the price.

Brazilian Teak (Cumaru):

Cumaru, or Dipteryx odorata, is native to South America, particularly Brazil. Brazilian teak is known for its strength, durability, and resistance to insects and moisture, making it suitable for outdoor applications like decking and furniture. However, it is generally harder and more challenging to work with than true teak.

Rhodesian Teak (Baikiaea plurijuga):

Native to Southern Africa, Rhodesian teak is a dense and durable hardwood used for flooring, furniture, and decking. While it shares some characteristics with true teak, its high silica content makes it more challenging to work with and can dull cutting tools quickly.

“Beechwood” or “Gmelina (Gmelina Arborea)

Gmelina Arborea: Also known as “Beechwood” or “Gmelina,” this species is not a true teak but shares some similarities in appearance and workability. Gmelina arborea is native to Southeast Asia and has been used as a more affordable alternative to true teak in some applications, such as furniture making.

“New Guinea Teak” or “Pacific Teak” (Vitex Cofassus )

This species is native to the Pacific Islands and Australia. It is used as a substitute for true teak in certain applications due to its comparable strength and workability, although its durability and weather resistance may be lower.

Other Sources of Teak

Plantation Teak:

This type of teak wood comes from carefully managed plantations, rather than old-growth forests. Plantation teak is grown more rapidly and harvested at a younger age, resulting in lower oil content and less density compared to old-growth teak. However, compared to old-growth harvested wood, it is a more sustainable option and is often used for outdoor furniture, decking, and indoor applications.

Reclaimed Teak:

Reclaimed teak is sourced from old buildings, bridges, and other structures that have been dismantled. This type of teak wood is highly sought after for its aged appearance, unique character, and historical significance. Reclaimed teak is often used for flooring, furniture, and decorative items.


You probably never imagined that there could be so many different types of teak wood! Although we have mentioned all possible variations of teak, you may never get to see or use many of them due to their endangered status.

If you ever do get what a seller claims to be teak, use extreme caution and due diligence while buying it. You want to ensure that you have genuine teak. More importantly, the teak should come from a legal source. That said, teak although scarce, is available, and it will make some great-looking projects for sure!