Teak and mahogany are two of the most sought-after types of wood available. You will find teak and mahogany furniture around the world. Mahogany is well known for its subtle textures, shades, and grain patterns of both these types of wood. Teak is one of the most expensive and rarest varieties of wood you can get, followed by mahogany.
Teak and Mahogany are both prized hardwoods each with distinct qualities and applications. Teak, known for its water resistance and durability, is ideal for outdoor furniture and boat construction. Mahogany, with its rich color and workability, is best suited for indoor furniture, cabinetry, and musical instruments.
In this post, we study the finer details of teak vs. Mahogany and their advantages and disadvantages. We look into the reason that either of these woods is so recognized in woodworking. Both types of wood can look quite similar, but there are differences between the two.
Below, we explain those differences here so that you will be able to make out one from the other and get the best out of these two acceptable types of wood.
Teak vs. Mahogany
Teak and mahogany both come in the category of hardwoods. Mahogany has a deep, reddish-brown color whereas teak comes in a gold or yellow to golden-brown color. The grain structure of both kinds of wood is straight, but you may find a bit of waviness as well in teak. Mahogany generally has a linear grain pattern.
It is much more expensive than mahogany and not as readily available. When it comes to choosing between the two kinds of wood, it boils down to your personal preferences combined with availability and budget considerations.
Teak, also known as Tectona grandis, can be found in tropical forests in Asia. Teak originates from Myanmar and traces its history to the 7th century when wealthy people adorned their homes with this wood. Later, the Dutch favored teak and used it for shipbuilding and as material for construction.
Teak has a high resistance to rot due to the high content of natural oil, making it extremely durable. It was on the endangered species list and still is in most countries. However, the governments of some nations have made it their mission to protect teak, so are tightly regulating and monitoring its cultivation and sale.
Mahogany grows in Central and South America and has a rich, reddish-brown color and straight, fine grain. The color, grin, and excellent workability make Mahogany a top choice for high-end furniture, cabinetry, and musical instruments. It is exceptionally durable and serves well as wood for carving as well. The deep, rich color and attractive grain structure make mahogany a much sought-after variety of timber. Mahogany’s claim to fame comes from the Chippendale furniture that became popular through an English cabinet maker by the same name in the 1700s.
Due to its high demand, mahogany has become an expensive variety of wood and is difficult to obtain today. Hence, we get a lot of mahogany in the form of wood veneer nowadays. It gives you the effect of mahogany but at a much lower price than using the actual solid wood.
Teak vs. Mahogany: Appearance
The grain pattern in both these types of wood is similar. Teak wood comes with a mostly straight grain, but you may observe some waviness. Although mahogany also has a straight-grained pattern, there may be some interlocking in the grain where the fibers veer off in different directions. And with mahogany, you may also observe circular rings in the wood.
Teak vs. Mahogany: Durability
When it comes to durability, teak is a clear winner over mahogany. It is the durability of teak that makes it a preferred choice for building boats and ships and also as a flooring material. The natural oil content of teak makes it suitable for outdoor use as well.
Mahogany, although not as durable as teak, should not be entirely discounted. It makes beautiful furniture as well. Although you may not use it for shipbuilding or outdoor furniture, it serves its purpose when teak is not available, but you want to make attractive indoor furniture, shelves and cabinets that will last for years.
Teak vs. Mahogany: Maintenance
Despite the good looks that any wood has to offer, there is usually a bit of maintenance involved if you want to keep your wooden surfaces looking fresh and lustrous. The degree of maintenance required differs from one wood to another. If they are left exposed to the elements, both teak wood and mahogany become a brownish-grey color. Both kinds of wood can be restored to their original color. It is easier to regain teak than it is for mahogany, where you need to do a lot of sanding and staining.
Teak vs. Mahogany: Price
While you may not expect wood to last forever, teak almost does. Good quality, genuine teak wood can last for up to 80 years. Mahogany has a life expectancy of nearly half of that. With wood of such a long life expectancy, you should also expect it to come quite expensive.
While teak and mahogany are both expensive types of wood, teak is far more expensive than mahogany. But if you consider that you are dealing with wood that is going to last so long, then the price seems to justify itself somehow.
Teak vs. Mahogany: Sustainability
Both teak and mahogany have tales of woe to tell regarding their over-exploitation by unscrupulous loggers. At one time it seemed that both of these types of wood were headed for extinction. However, over the years, governments have stepped in to attempt to make them sustainable once again.
Thanks to the efforts of these governments, there is still some sustainable teak and mahogany available in the market, but both varieties still remain very scarce. There are some authentic substitutes for both kinds of wood. Hence, a responsible path to take would be to try out these alternative varieties as well, to ensure that you use sustainable wood.
Teak Vs. Mahogany: Comparison Table
|Botanical name||Tectona grandis||Swietenia macrophylla|
|Color||Golden to dark brown||Reddish-brown to blood red|
|Durability||Highly Durable||Fairly Durable|
|Hardness (Janka Scale)||2,330||800-3,840|
|Strength||Very strong||Medium strength|
|Maintenance||Easy to maintain||More difficult than teak|
|Price||Highly expensive||Expensive, but less than teak|
|Suitability for outdoors||Suitable for outdoor use||For Indoor use only|
|Suitability for wood carving||Yes||Yes|
|Workability||Difficult wood to work on||Easier to work on than teak|
|Smell||Leathery pungent smell||Woody, dry and clean smell|
So, there you have it. Teak and mahogany are two of the best and most durable types of wood that you can find in the market. If you can lay your hands on genuine, legally procured teak or mahogany, then go ahead and use it for some great woodworking projects. However, if in doubt, there are a few suitable alternative types of wood that you can use with satisfactory results, which we highlight in some of our other posts.