If you are into woodworking, teak and rosewood are two types of wood that you are likely to come across. Furniture made of either of these types of wood is trendy. You can add class to any room by placing teak or rosewood woodworking items in it. Both types of wood have their special features, unique grain patterns and appealing textures. Both of them are on the list of endangered species, are highly expensive, and difficult to procure.
Here we examine the various aspects of teak vs rosewood and try to understand the reason for the massive popularity of both these wood types. Each type has features that distinguish it from the other. But in case you are in any way confused, after reading this post, you should be able to identify either variety of wood. You will also become familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of these woods so that you can get the best out of either of them in your woodworking projects.
Teak vs. Rosewood
Rosewood is a name given to a group of trees that include the Tipuana, Pterocarpus and Dalbergia genera. It is an aromatic hardwood. The mature trees emit a sweet and rich rose-like aroma which gives the wood its name. It has a reddish to dark, purplish-brown color, and a dense grain, making it a strong and durable wood.
Teak is also a hardwood and gives off a characteristic leathery smell when freshly cut due to the natural oils it contains. These oils also give teak its inherent durability, making it resistant to rot, insect attack, mold and fungi. As you can see, both of these woods are distinct from each other and in the discussion of teak vs rosewood, we will touch upon the unique characteristics of each type of wood.
The botanical name given to teak is Tectona grandis, and it is native to tropical regions in Southeast Asia, mainly India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and specifically Myanmar. Woodworkers have been using teak since the 7th century to adorn the houses of wealthy people. In that period, shipbuilders used it to build boats and ships, and we use it for the same purpose even today.
Teak was always popular with woodworkers to make furniture and other wooden items due to its durability and good looks. Unfortunately, for the same reason, teak was over-exploited and ended up on the list of endangered wood species where it remains till today. On the brighter side, governments have come forward to regulate the cultivation, production and sale of this wood, legalize it in some countries.
Rosewood, also known as Dalbergia latifolia grows in India and Indonesia, but you will also find it in Vietnam, the Philippines, and some African countries like Nigeria and Kenya, and even South America. The wood is hard and durable, with a long, straight bore. Rosewood is a highly-prized wood and is on the list of “vulnerable” wood species.
Although latifolia is the most typical variety, there are numerous other varieties as well, African blackwood, Amazon rosewood, Brazilian rosewood, Burmese rosewood, Honduran rosewood, Cocobolo, sissoo, tulipwood, and Yucatan rosewood.
Apart from making furniture and other woodworking items, rosewood is a favorite amongst luthiers due to its properties as a tonewood. It plays a prominent role in making the backs and sides of stringed instruments and fretboards as well.
It has become extremely scarce, and if you get access to this wood, you will do well to ascertain the legality of the procurement before you complete the transaction. Since rosewood has become so rare, there is also a high possibility of getting other types of wood passed off as rosewood, so you need sound knowledge to prevent being cheated.
Teak Vs. Rosewood: Appearance
Teak wood has a straight grain, but some waviness can occur. The wood tends to darken with age. It has an even texture and feels oily to the touch. The color may vary from golden to dark brown, depending on where on the tree the wood is cut.
Rosewood, on the other hand, has a golden to deep purplish-brown color and like teak, it darkens with age. The wood has a medium texture with small, tight pores and a tightly interlocked grain.
Teak Vs. Rosewood: Durability
Teak is among the strongest and hardest hardwoods which makes it a preferred choice for outdoor furniture. The natural oil in teak gives it weather-resistant, pest-resistant properties. It shows considerable resistance to mold and rot and lasts considerably longer if left on its own and a lifetime if maintained properly.
Rosewood, on the other hand, needs to be adequately dried to be adequately durable. It has chalky deposits that can cause make tool blades. However, it is one of the hardest types of wood with a hardness similar to teak. If finished properly, it has a high resistance to rot and termite attack, but it is not advisable to leave it outdoors.
Teak Vs. Rosewood: Maintenance
If teak is left alone, it will remain intact. But if maintained properly, it can last a lifetime. There are many ways and means of maintaining teak. It would be best if you cleaned it regularly, and for finishing it, you can either apply oil, varnish or paint upon primer.
The maintenance requirements for rosewood are similar to teak, but it is prone to deterioration in the presence of extreme weather conditions and sunlight. You need to clean rosewood regularly with warm water and a cloth, and you can use furniture wax with a linseed oil base followed by gentle buffing to maintain the wood’s luster.
Teak Vs. Rosewood: Price
Despite its restoration and cultivation worldwide, teak continues to be among the most expensive types of wood on the market. The price may vary depending on the kind of teak, the grade and its origin.
Rosewood is as expensive and, in many cases, more costly than teak. The main issue with rosewood is its availability. Still, if you can source it, you should expect to part with a lot of money for it, probably much more than you would spend on teak depending on the variety of rosewood.
Teak Vs. Rosewood: Sustainability
Although teak is not on the CITES Appendices or the IUCN Red List of Threatened species anymore, its trading continues to be illegal in many countries, especially Burma teak. Rosewood features on the CITES appendix II and is on the IUCN Red List, which means in simple terms that it is an endangered species of wood.
Teak Vs. Rosewood: Comparison Table
|Golden brown to dark brown
|Golden to purplish brown
|Hardness (Janka Scale)
|As strong as rosewood
|As strong as teak
|Needs regular maintenance
|Needs regular maintenance
|Suitability for outdoors
|Suitability for wood carving
|Easy to work on
|Easy to work on
|Pungent, leathery smell
After reading this post, you should be now aware of the unique features of teak and rosewood. As a woodworker, you will realize the difficulty in procuring either of these two types of wood. Although teak may be more easily-available than rosewood, both of them are increasingly difficult to come by today.
Even if you can acquire either teak or rosewood, you need first to ascertain its authenticity, which hopefully you can now do using the information that we have provided. You also need to confirm that the material is legally procured. And if all goes well, you will be able to execute some great woodworking projects with either of these types of wood.