Your woodworking projects depend a lot on the type of wood you use. With so many types of wood available, you could be easily confused, especially when you are on a budget. However, two types of wood that can cover all budgets are teak and Douglas fir.
Teak and Douglas fir are two types of wood that we could consider to be on either side of the wood spectrum. They are so different from each other yet both are used by woodworkers for various projects, and depending on the budget, either can be a suitable choice.
Teak vs Douglas Fir
Teak has a rich history of being used extensively in the tropical regions of the world. It has always been and still is a favorite type of wood in Asia. It is such a durable, strong, and versatile wood. Coupled with its good looks it was the natural choice for a variety of applications over the ages.
Unfortunately, teak has suffered over-exploitation and today it has become a scarce commodity. Along with its shortage, this wood species also comes at exorbitantly-high prices.
Today, there is a variety of teak wood alternatives and one of the lesser-known ones is Douglas fir. This is a wood species native to Canada but is becoming available in many places across the world today.
Douglas fir is an attractive-looking softwood that is durable yet strong. It compares with teak in many ways, which makes it suitable for interior design applications. If you need wood for large projects, like door frames, windows, and other framing applications, Douglas fir can meet your requirements.
Finally, the pleasant, light shades of Douglas fir can enhance the look of any structures you put up using this versatile type of wood.
Teak (Tectona grandis) grows in various tropical regions of the world, specifically in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, particularly Myanmar. People used teak from the 7th century onwards. In those days, it was a wood that adorned the homes of rich people.
Later, the Dutch started using this wood during the colonialization of Indonesia. They used it to make ships and for constructing buildings.
Even to this day, teak is a favored wood used in shipbuilding due to its high durability, and significant resistance to moisture. Unfortunately, it has suffered extreme overharvesting, particularly in recent years.
As a result of exploiting teak, it became scarce and endangered. The governments of some countries took the initiative to control the cultivation, production, and trading of this wood.
The reason that teak is not on any of the lists of endangered wood species is probably thanks to the efforts of various governments. However, it remains a scarce and endangered type of wood, which also contributes to its high price.
Douglas Fir: Background
Douglas fir is a bit of a rough type of wood compared to teak. But it is still a fine type of wood that you can use in various woodworking projects. Douglas fir is one of the harder softwoods with a fair degree of durability. It may not have all the high qualities of teak but it still emerges as a robust and durable wood species.
When you need a strong but economical type of wood to use in constructing buildings, Douglas fir can be your preferred choice of wood. It has a straight wood grain pattern that goes well with most construction items like windows, doors, flooring, and trim. We also use Douglas fir to make different grades of plywood.
Teak vs Douglas Fir: Appearance
With a golden-brown heartwood, teak looks good even if you don’t apply any finish. The straight but occasionally wavy woodgrain exhibits a variety of colors and hues.
If you touch the unprocessed surface of teak, you will feel a slightly oily texture with an uneven and coarse texture. The oily surface of this wood is due to its high natural oil content.
We get Douglas fir in a variety of colors as well. The sapwood is light and the heartwood is reddish-brown or yellow. You will see a striking contrast between the sapwood and heartwood due to this sharp color difference.
In addition, the growth rings also show a considerable difference in color. Apart from the color of the wood, the straight, non-porous grain structure creates some pleasant patterns on the surface of the wood.
Teak vs Douglas Fir: Durability
Teak is one of the hardest and strongest forms of hardwood that you can find. Due to this, it makes fine outdoor furniture. The wood produces a high level of natural oil, which makes it pest and weather resistant. It also resists rot and mold quite well. If you maintain it well, teak will last a long, long time.
Due to its tight pores, you will find that like teak, Douglas fir also resists moisture quite well. It will not become distorted if exposed to extreme weather or excessive moisture. This wood is fairly rot-resistant but is susceptible to insect attack.
Teak vs Douglas Fir: Maintenance
Teak on its own can even last outdoors for prolonged periods. But if you do a bit of maintenance, it will last you a lifetime. You can follow particular procedures for maintaining teak furniture that will enhance its life indefinitely. It includes washing the wood, and applying a variety of oils, varnish, or painting it to protect it, and enhance its looks.
A disadvantage of Douglas fir over teak is that it shows up scratches easily. If you leave it outdoors, it will develop a patina which gives the wood a distressed look. Some people find it appealing, while others do not. You can easily restore Douglas fir to its original condition with a bit of sanding and refinishing.
Teak vs Douglas Fir: Workability and Uses
You will find teak and easily workable wood. The one drawback is the high content of silica which can have a blunting effect on your cutting tools. So, while working on teak, you will sometimes find that you have to sharpen your tools more frequently.
However, the advantage of working with teak is that you can apply finishes and add glue easily. But being an oily wood, you might have to wipe it down with a solvent before applying glue or a finish.
Apart from using teak for indoor furniture, flooring, and panels, it serves exceptionally well outdoors. You can make outdoor structures, decks, and railings. Teak also plays a prominent role in shipbuilding.
Douglas fir such as teak is durable, strong, and easily workable. The drying time for this wood is much lesser than teak and it exhibits a high degree of dimensional stability. You can glue this wood easily, and also add a finish with no difficulty.
Douglas fir makes good furniture, plywood, flooring, and paper pulp. We also use it for building marine structures and making railroad ties.
Teak vs Douglas Fir: Price
Teak has always been an expensive wood for its many good qualities. The scarcity of this wood has made it even more expensive today. Comparable with most other types of wood in the market, teak is easily the most expensive except for some other exotic wood species like ebony and mahogany.
Douglas fir, because of its easy availability, is much more expensive than teak. It makes economically-priced plywood that looks good despite its reasonable price. It is a useful type of wood to use for construction projects if you are looking for a cost-effective solution.
Teak vs Douglas Fir: Sustainability
Over-harvesting of teak forests has led to a dwindling population, and today genuine teak wood has become a rare commodity. Although teak does not feature on the lists of endangered wood species, it is extremely scarce and controlled. When you buy teak, you need to ensure that it comes from a legally-approved source.
Douglas fir is a highly-sustainable alternative to teak wood. Although it may not possess all the fine qualities of teak, using this wood is an environmentally-friendly option.
Teak vs Douglas Fir: Comparison Table
|Botanical name||Tectona grandis||Pseudotsuga menziesii|
|Color||Golden to medium brown||Light brown tinted with red or yellow|
|Durability||Highly durable||More durable than Oak|
|Hardness (Janka Scale)||1,070 lbf. to 2,330 lbf.||620 lbf.|
|Maintenance||Easy to maintain||Needs extra care|
|Price||Expensive||Cheaper than Oak|
|Suitability for outdoors||Yes||Yes, if treated|
|Suitability for wood carving||Yes||Yes|
|Workability||Easy to work with||Cuts and machines well but tends to make blades blunt|
|Smell||Leathery smell||Distinct, resinous odor when being worked|
|Availability||Limited availability||Readily available|
|Special features if any||No special features||No unique characteristics|
Initially, you might have wondered why we discussed two almost diametrically-opposite types of wood. But after reading through the discussion of teak vs. Douglas fir, hopefully, you will see why they compare well.
Teak is a hardwood and Douglas fir is a softwood. Due to the high cost and scarcity of teak wood, we tend to look for alternatives. Especially if you are involved in building big wooden structures, you may need to look for cheaper material.
We consider teak the king of wood. But to be more practical, an all-teak project will turn out to be extremely expensive. If you use Douglas fir, you can cut the cost of your project considerably. Use Douglas fir instead of teak where you can, and see the difference!