We call teak the king of wood because of its many advantages and uses. There are many different variations of teak but genuine teak that we also call Burmese teak is wood that comes from the Tectona grandis tree.
Teak is an extremely versatile type of wood that is dimensionally stable. It is durable and easy to work with. Teak looks great with or without a finish. You can use it both indoors and outdoors. This wood is a very popular material for use in flooring and furniture among other items.
Teak Wood: Background
Teak wood is native to southern Asia and is today also grown on plantations in Africa and South America. It is a moderately hard type of wood with a Janka hardness rating of 1,070 lbf.
Teak is coveted by woodworkers for its fine appearance, high durability, easy workability, and numerous applications. It produces a significant quantity of natural oil which helps to repel insects. However, teak wood is expensive and difficult to procure.
Due to its extreme popularity, overharvesting of teak forests led to its near extinction. Today teak is a highly regulated type of wood, particularly the variety grown in plantations. But cultivating this wood in plantations has made it more available.
However, we are not here to discuss the legalities of teak wood – we merely want to highlight the various aspects of this fine species of wood.
Teak Wood Pros and Cons
No wood is perfect and neither is teak. It has several advantages that make it a favorite type of wood amongst woodworkers. It also has a few downsides.
Advantages of Teak Wood
So, let’s start by taking a look at some of the advantages of teak wood:
Durable and Strong
We best know teak for its sturdiness, strength, and durability. The wood grain of grain is tight. It has a high level of natural oil and contains tannins. These oils not only provide adequate protection from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun but also protect the wood from moisture.
Thanks to its high oil content, teak also has a fair degree of resistance against insects and holds up against mold, fungus, and rot.
We could say that teak is in the category of one of the strongest and most durable hardwoods for furniture making and flooring.
If you maintain teak wood properly, it will last for generations. The wood is dimensionally strong meaning that it won’t bend or warp easily. There is no danger of it cracking and splintering. If you have any objects made of teak, they can last a lifetime.
One of the main attractive features of teak is the aesthetic appeal. It is among the most beautiful of hardwoods. Its wood grain is straight and smooth with a natural gloss unlike any other type of wood.
Teak wood has a golden-brown hue but the color varies from honey yellow to light brown. If left on its own, it develops fine, silver patina which many find attractive but some do not.
Although you may find other types of wood with similar properties to teak which are as sturdy as teak, the appearance and texture of teak far outweigh the advantages of any other type of wood.
Teak is an easy wood to work with which adds its versatility. You can use this wood indoors or outdoors with equal satisfaction. So, you will find teak used to make various types of furniture like chairs, tables, beds, and other indoor pieces. It also makes good outdoor furniture like deck chairs and tables.
You will also see a lot of teak flooring both indoors and outdoors. The outdoor teak is usually used for outdoor flooring of patios and decks.
Another great advantage of teak is that you can easily add a wood finish. It not only greatly enhances the look of the wood but also helps to protect it from moisture, rot, and insects. You can change the shade of teak wood to match the surrounding décor.
Teak also makes some fine doors in addition to flooring and furniture.
Resistance to Insects, Decay, and Rot
As we mentioned above, teak wood has a high level of natural oils. This property imparts a fair level of water resistance to the wood. These oils also help protect the hardwood from rot and decay.
Insects also get repelled from teak wood which makes it suitable for outdoor use as well.
Heat Moderation Properties
Here is a property that is not always discussed when we mention teak. But like many other kinds of wood, teak is also an exceptionally good insulator. It insulates from heat and cold.
Due to this reason, we use teak for external cladding of buildings in cold countries and for roofing to keep out the heat in hot countries. Teak also finds use in lining saunas because it retains the heat so well.
Disadvantages of Teak
No one or nothing is perfect. Teak has a few downsides which we have outlined here:
Teak is an extremely expensive wood because of its scarce supply. You can get different grades of teak thereby saving a bit of money. But ultimately, you will end up paying a lot for it.
You will find it difficult to procure teak easily because it is a highly-regulated form of wood today. Surprisingly, it does not feature on the CITES Appendices, nor does it appear on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
But sanctions do exist against commercial dealings with this wood by governments due to overharvesting. This is what contributes to teak scarcity.
Wears Down Cutting Blades
Being a fairly hard type wood, although you might find it easy to cut, teak has a higher hardness rating. In addition, sometimes the wood contains mineral deposits. The combination of the hardness of the wood and the mineral deposits can make your cutting tools blunt quickly. So, when you work on teak wood you may find that you have to sharpen your tools more frequently.
Teak wood is the type that you need to maintain regularly. When you first process teak wood with a suitable finish, it can look fantastic. But particularly with flooring and furniture, exposure to moisture, chemical spills, scratches, and abrasion, over time, the wood can begin to look shabby.
Once teak wood deteriorates it can look worse than many other types of wood. If you maintain it regularly by cleaning, re-applying the finish, and polishing it, you can restore it to its former glory. However, all this maintenance involves a lot of time and effort.
As we see here, teak is truly the king of wood. It has some great qualities that very few kinds of wood can equal like high durability, great looks, easy workability, among several other positive qualities.
Although there are some disadvantages, the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks. If you can procure some legally sourced teak wood, don’t miss the opportunity to work on this fine form of lumber.
But in your eagerness to procure teak, do not be swayed by tall claims about genuine teak by sellers. There is a lot of spurious lumber being passed off as genuine teak in the market.
If you get some genuine, legally-sourced teak for a woodworking project, you will feel the difference while working on it. Satisfaction guaranteed!