Teak grain (top) vs Walnut (bottom)
In woodworking circles, teak and walnut are among the most revered types of wood you can find. Teak and walnut furniture are extremely sought after. It adds class to any home or office due to the fine grain pattern, the rich, deep colors, and the smooth finish. Although teak and walnut are among the most expensive woods and not readily available, they continue to rate highly on a woodworker’s list of priorities.
In this post, we take a close look at teak Vs. walnut and their various aspects. We examine why either of these woods enjoys such a position of prominence in the woodworking world. At first glance, you may not be able to distinguish one type of wood from the other. Here, we highlight the differences between teak and walnut, so you should not doubt how to differentiate between them after reading this post.
Teak Vs. Walnut
Both these types of wood find themselves on the endangered species list from time to time. While several measures have been put into place to enhance teak sustainability, walnut still needs a bit of help in that direction. A majority of the world’s teak comes from Indonesia.
During the mid-1900s, Indonesia’s Government set up a corporation to ensure that teak is produced and harvested sustainably. Walnut continues to be on the endangered list. The bottom line here is that whether you use teak or walnut, they are difficult to procure and costly.
The botanical name for teak is Tectona grandis, and it grows in tropical regions. It is specifically native to Myanmar and has been used from the 7th century for making woodworking items in the houses of wealthy people. The Dutch popularized teak when they colonized Indonesia. They used it for shipbuilding and other building projects. The wood is useful in shipbuilding due to its inherent resistance to rot.
Over the years, teak found its name on the list of endangered species thanks to over-logging. But later on, governments stepped in to control the over-exploitation of this versatile and durable wood. Today, teak cultivation, production, and export are more controlled, but you still need to be sure of the source to have legally-procured timber.
Woodworkers prize walnut wood for its tight grain and rich, dark color. Walnut polishes exceptionally well, and it can also be stained to take on various shades and hues. The wood itself also comes in multiple colors that range from almost white of the sapwood to the chocolaty-brown of the heartwood.
Walnut develops an attractive patina as it ages, but it is the darker variety of this that woodworkers covet. Walnut plays a prominent role in the making of hardwood flooring, furniture, and gunstocks.
You can find many varieties of walnut trees, but in the US, the widely used type is Eastern black walnut, also known as American black walnut. Woodworkers mostly use this variety in their woodworking projects.
Teak Vs. Walnut: Appearance
At first glance, you will find it difficult to make out the difference between teak and walnut visually. In general terms, walnut is browner, mostly chocolate brown, while teak has a more reddish tint. Walnut has a broader grain pattern, while teak has shorter grains with a tighter pattern.
Another way of identifying teak is by noticing whether it has been stained or not. Many unscrupulous traders stain different varieties of wood to look like teak. Ask the seller if they have stained the wood, and if so, you have a reason to be suspicious.
Teak Vs. Walnut: Durability
Teak is one of the heaviest woods that you can find. It is incredibly durable due to the natural oil, making it water-resistant and protecting it from rot and insect attack. Walnut, on the other hand, is also durable, but it is lighter than teak. Walnut tends to become a lighter shade with exposure to sunlight. Hence, unlike teak, which has no such property, you need to consider the sun’s presence in a room in the case of walnut furniture.
Teak Vs. Walnut: Maintenance
Teak wood usually comes without any finish or protective treatment. It may be polished to bring out the natural oils. An advantage of both teak and walnut is that they are both easy to clean and polish. Initially, you may have to use a wood finish for teak and walnut.
Although teak has a bit of an advantage over walnut, you would do well to treat either type of wood with an insect repellant before adding the final finish to the wood. You can use a damp cloth to clean both types of wood. You can also apply furniture wax to teak and walnut at least once a week to retain the smooth polish and protect the surface from water.
Apply oil to teak (tung oil or boiled linseed oil) every six months to a year. To enhance the life of teak, you should restore the surface every three to four years. Restoring involves stripping the surface of the wood of its coating and re-applying an appropriate finish after thoroughly sanding and cleaning the surface.
Teak Vs. Walnut: Price
Both teak and walnut are expensive varieties of wood. However, teak can cost ten to twenty times more than walnut. If you use wood veneer-covered medium-density fiberboard (MDF), the price could come down considerably. But do not be under the misconception that teak veneer is a much cheaper proposition. Some teak veneers can cost almost as much as solid wood, depending on how the veneer is peeled from the log.
Teak Vs. Walnut: Sustainability
Teak wood is one of the most controversial woods in the world today. Its over-exploitation has put it on the endangered list of wood species. It is illegal to harvest and trade teak in most countries. Hence, a lot of teak wood smuggling goes on. Many countries have stepped in to control and monitor teak production. Although you may procure teak, you need to be sure of its origin, and it remains exorbitantly expensive due to its scarcity.
Walnut is not as rare as teak and is sustainably harvested in some regions of the United States. Black walnut trees only need about five to eight years to bear fruit but need at least 50 years to yield timber. However, it can take up to 80 years to produce some of the best walnut timber. Due to its scarcity, we use walnut to make veneers as well.
Teak Vs. Walnut: Alternatives
It is a responsible decision to take if you use alternative species to teak and walnut if you are not sure of the legal status of the wood that is being sold. Here are a few alternative types of wood you could consider:
Teak Alternatives: For Burmese teak, you can use FSC teak or Jatoba. Substitutes for African teak include FSC Favinha, Guariuba, and Tatajuba although many of these are difficult to get in many parts of the world.
Walnut Alternatives: FSC and Andiroba serve as highly authentic-looking substitutes for walnut wood.
Teak Vs. Walnut: Comparison Table
|Aesthetics||Good looks but needs an appropriate finish||Looks naturally good|
|Durability||Naturally durable||Not as durable as teak|
|Maintenance||Needs regular maintenance||Needs regular maintenance|
|Price||Exorbitantly expensive||Expensive but not as much as teak|
|Suitability for outdoors||Yes, with an appropriate finish||Better used indoors|
|Suitability for wood carving||Suitable for wood carving||Difficult to carve but gives spectacular results|
|Workability||Takes nail and screws easily||Takes nail and screws easily|
As you have seen here, teak and walnut are both fine woods to work with. From a woodworker’s perspective, you may use either type of wood for some very spectacular results. But while procuring either of these woods, you need to keep in mind the sustainability factor. There have been issues concerning both of these woods, and you need to be sure of your source.
If you are doubtful about the legality of the wood you have procured, you can recycle old wood. You can get it from aging, demolished buildings, and discarded furniture. If you need new wood, you can avail of some of the alternative types of wood that we have highlighted here.
Beyond a doubt, whether you use teak or walnut, they both make great-looking woodworking projects. They are durable, and a boon to any woodworker.