Real teak is one of the world’s most sought-after wood. Once upon a time, it was the ultimate wood to use for furniture, building material, carving, outdoor applications like decking and for making boats.
Today, teak wood still reigns supreme in the world of woodworking. Unfortunately, due to the over-exploitation of this precious resource, the availability of teak dwindled worldwide. The result is that it found its way to the list of endangered species, and today its harvesting, production and trading are banned in many countries.
All this brings us to the question: If not teak, then what? Fortunately, there are many substitutes for teak in real wood, as well as synthetic teak. It is possible to be responsible and use an environmentally-friendly option like synthetic teak that also goes by the name “Flexiteek.”
In this post, we take a close look at the pros and cons of the teak substitute Flexiteek, but to begin with, let us quickly reiterate the advantages of teak wood.
The Benefits of Teak Wood
Teak is one of the most expensive types of wood in the world. It exhibits both elegance and durability. Teak is one of the varieties of wood that can survive in a marine environment. This wood is less prone to splintering, warping and shrinkage than several other types of wood making it ideal for making wooden furniture.
Teak has a high density due to the high silica content in the wood. This makes it the preferred choice for building ships and boats. The abundant natural oils present in teak wood give it a considerable resistance to insect attack. For the same reason, it is reasonably water-resistant, which also favors marine applications.
Another thing worth mentioning about teak is the way the wood grain pops out with a bit of varnish or oil. Teak takes on a beautiful sheen if you apply a suitable finish to it. And, even over time, with a bit of maintenance, you can keep the wood looking fresh and bright.
If left out, exposed to the elements, takes on a silver-gray patina, which forms a protective layer. It reduces the need to maintain it so regularly.
So much for the benefits of real teak. Now let’s consider what synthetic teak has to offer.
Benefits of Synthetic Teak
Synthetic teak or “Flexiteek” as we also call it, can never totally replace the benefits of real teak. However, there are quite a few advantages of using this material, as highlighted below.
Flexiteek is a patented brand of synthetic teak popular across the globe. Many other previous attempts at imitating teak wood fell short in many parameters. Unlike teak, Flexiteek doesn’t lose color with exposure to sunlight. It is ultraviolet (UV) resistant.
This material is also good for using for flooring and decks of boats because it is incredibly water-resistant. It also offers a perfectly good grip under all weather conditions, so you can use it outdoors comfortably.
Another advantage of Flexiteek is that you don’t need to apply a finish to it the way you have to with real teak. It is quite stain-proof and resistant to oil and grease that can be washed away with soap and water. It also offers excellent acoustic insulation, capable of bringing noise levels down to as low as 11dB.
By opting for synthetic teak, you make a responsible choice as far as the environment is concerned. Flexiteek is made of PVC does not come from trees. No deforestation occurs while manufacturing this material, meaning that you can be sure that your choice is eco-friendly.
Synthetic Teak (Flexiteek) vs. Teak Wood
With so many positive aspects of Flexiteek, there is a toss-up between the two materials in terms of their advantages. The best approach for an unbiased point of view would be to look at the pros and cons of each material.
Synthetic Teak Pros
- Flexiteek is highly affordable.
- It is very popular and easily available with most timber traders.
- Flexiteek makes comfortable non-skid surfaces for decks, boats and indoor flooring for homes.
- It has a uniform appearance and a variety of colors and shades from which to choose.
- Flexiteek is resistant to the UV rays of the sun.
- It is highly water-resistant – much more than that of teak or other real woods.
- It is lighter which makes handling and transportation easier.
- Synthetic teak is much easier to maintain than real teak.
- You don’t need to use screws and nails to install Flexiteek – just a two-compound adhesive is sufficient.
- Conventional woodworking tools are not required to cut it. You only need a sharp knife to cut Flexiteek to the required sizes.
- Flexiteek tends to absorb heat, making it uncomfortable to walk on in regions that experience high temperatures.
- This material may resemble but cannot duplicate the lustrous looks and fine satiny texture of real teak.
- You cannot change the appearance or texture of the surface of Flexiteek, once you have made your choice.
- Although Flexiteek plays a prominent role in flooring and decks of marine vessels, we cannot use it to make furniture due to its lack of rigidity.
Real Teak Pros
- Real teak has a visual appeal that cannot be matched with Flexiteek
- It has a natural resistance to water and insect attack due to the natural oils present in the wood.
- You can change the color and texture of real teak to blend into the existing décor by applying a suitable finish.
- Real teak has a solid heaviness that is impossible to duplicate with Flexiteek.
Real Teak Cons
- Maintaining real teak is a more laborious and complex procedure than for Flexiteek.
- Over-maintaining real teak (frequently sanding and brushing) can increase wear and tear.
- Real teak is not easily available and costs much more than its synthetic counterparts.
- Teak discolors over time, but then, the silver-gray patina that develops appeals to some people.
Whether you choose real teak or Flexiteek for your woodworking projects, you can be sure of impressive results. You may think that using real teak is an irresponsible choice. That need not be so. Although teak is banned in many countries, several others have dealt with the environmental issue.
The Indonesian government, for example, formed a dedicated company to facilitate the cultivation of teak, its harvesting, production, trading and replanting. If you can procure real teak, the important thing to do is to confirm its source.
On the other hand, you can assume, without a shadow of a doubt, that if you use Flexiteek, you are contributing to the environment. It has many advantages as we have highlighted here. You get a cost-effective solution that is at the same time attractive but durable.
Which do you choose – real teak wood or Flexiteek? There is no perfect choice – if you are not sure of the source of real teak or if it is not readily available, then you can go ahead with Flexiteek. Another great option is to use recycled real teak – wood salvaged from old buildings. Whatever the case, real teak or Flexiteek, your projects are going to look great!