As a woodworker, you would have come across these two types of wood, teak and beech. Both are quite popularly used to make furniture, musical instruments and also for construction. While teak grows in tropical regions, beech comes from places of temperate climates and is not as strong and durable as teak.
Beech is not as long-lasting or as strong as teak, but both types of wood are popular with woodworkers due to their similar properties. Beech often serves as a more budget-friendly wood compared to its much more expensive relative, teak. Below, we’ll compare the characteristics of teak vs. beech wood.
Teak: General Characteristics
Teak is a heavy wood but not as hard as beech. It has a Janka hardness rating of 1,070 and is strong and durable. It grows in the forests of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia and its botanical name is Tectona grandis.
The texture of teak is smooth and silky with a smooth grain. The wood is yellowish to a golden brown, but it develops a silver-grey patina over time. The high levels of natural oil in teak make it impervious to insect attack and moisture, although it isn’t entirely waterproof.
Teak has a characteristic pungent leathery smell, especially when cut or stored in the same place for a long time. Due to the over-exploitation of this wood, it became a very scarce commodity and was on the list of endangered wood species. Today governments are trying to restore teak by monitoring its cultivation and use.
Teak is a much sought-after type of wood that is good for making furniture, cabinets, wooden flooring, building material and even boats and in shipbuilding. It is one of the most expensive varieties of wood and not easily available. Due to this, a lot of fake teak is doing the rounds, so you need to be cautious while buying it.
Beech: General Characteristics
The commonest form of beech that we get in the United States is American beech (Fagus grandifolia). It grows in the Eastern United States and is a strong and durable form of hardwood. Its nearest relative is the European beech, (Fagus sylvatica).
Beech has a pale, cream color, but occasionally develops a pink or brown hue. In veneer form, it is slightly darker as an effect of the steaming process for preparing the veneer. If flatsawn, beech has an insignificant grain pattern, but you may notice silver flecks in the quartersawn timber.
This wood is not very durable and is susceptible to attack by insects and will deteriorate if exposed to moisture, sun, rain or extreme weather conditions. However, the wood is fairly easy to work with, and it machines, glues and finishes quite well. It is also a good candidate for steam bending.
Beech doesn’t have any distinct odor and there are no confirmed allergies linked to beech wood. The wood is not on the endangered wood list and we could consider it a fairly sustainable variety of wood.
Beechwood is easily available and comes at a modest price. Sometimes it is even cheaper than sugar maple, another extremely popular wood species that we discuss in another post.
Beech is popularly used to make furniture, flooring, veneer, musical instruments, railway ties and turned and carved objects.
Teak vs. Beech Wood
Coming to the comparison of teak vs. beech wood, both of these woods are hard and highly to moderately durable. Because beech can sometimes serve as a cost-effective substitute to teak, we felt it was appropriate to compare these two types of wood. There are similarities and quite a few differences, so let’s see what the comparison looks like:
Teak vs. Beech Wood: Appearance
Teak is a very striking type of wood in color and grain pattern. Even if you don’t apply a finish to teak, it looks quite smart. Beech on the other hand is an unremarkable wood to look at but you can create a warm ambiance to beech furniture with suitable stain or varnish.
Teak vs. Beech Wood: Durability
Regarding mechanical strength, few types of wood can match teak. The longevity of teak is due to the natural oil that it produces, protecting it from insects and the adverse effect of the weather, and wood rot.
With beech, you get a heavy, strong and moderately hard type of wood. It is elastic and resistant to shock. However, beech isn’t as hard as many other hardwoods including teak. Beech can be used with reasonable success indoors, but it may not survive outdoors because it doesn’t contain protective oil like teak does.
Teak vs. Beech Wood: Uses
Both teak and beech wood are furniture woods, which is why we have featured them here, side-by-side. Beechwood takes on polish quite well and it is stain-resistant. It responds to steam bending quite well, so we can use it for making curved parts of furniture, something that is difficult to achieve with teak.
But teak takes over when it comes to outdoor use. We can use beech for indoor furniture, cabinets, shelves and other woodworking items that are to be kept indoors. However, we can take teak outdoors, to use it for making outdoor furniture, decks, wooden railings and a variety of outdoor wooden items and structures.
Because teak is so durable, resistant to weather and moisture, it plays a prominent role in making boats and all sorts of marine applications.
Teak vs. Beech Wood: Sustainability
Teak wood has a long history of over-exploitation due to excessive logging and not replacing the cut trees. Wood is said to be sustainable if we cut the trees and replace them with new ones in a controlled manner. Preferably, we should grow more trees than we cut. But this has never been the case with teak. So, it is not sustainable.
Beech is commonly available throughout the United States, and the growing time is much shorter than teak. It is a sustainable variety of wood. You don’t have to bother too much about the source when you procure beech wood the way you have to do for teak.
We have highlighted two strong and moderately to highly-durable types of wood here. In the discussion of teak vs. beech wood, teak will always come out a winner as it usually does when compared with most wood types. But if you are on a budget or you aren’t able to procure teak due to its limited supply, beech wood can serve as a cost-effective substitute.
Now hopefully, you should be clearer about the various aspects of these two types of wood and can make an educated choice when it comes to choosing between the two for your woodworking projects.