As a woodworker, you would be naturally curious to know about as many different types of wood as possible. Wood is such a fascinating and exhaustive topic that it goes on endlessly. There are so many different kinds of wood, and no single type is identical to the other. It gives us a wide variety to choose from to meet the various requirements that we may have in our woodworking projects.
In this post, we look at the various aspects of two widely popular wood species – teak and oak. In the course of our discussion on teak wood vs. oak, we will talk about each one’s unique characteristics and the benefits and drawbacks of each one. So, let’s get into the heart of the matter, shall we?
Teak Wood vs. Oak
Teak wood and oak are among the most robust and most durable woods that you can find. Further, both these wood types look great once you apply a finish like lacquer, varnish, oil, or even paint. As we consider these two types of woods, you need to realize there is no such thing as perfect wood. You will find flaws in every kind of wood. A lot depends on your source.
If you compare teak and oak, you will notice more “movement” in teak, which alludes to the wood’s capacity to shrink and swell. They are both hardwoods and angiosperms, which means that they bear fruits in which seeds are present. Both trees are also deciduous, which means that they shed their leaves during winter. It contributes to stronger wood thanks to the growth rings that mark each season of the tree’s life. One of the most noticeable differences is the availability and price – teak being a much rarer and expensive wood compared to oak which is widely available in North America and Europe and much more affordable.
The botanical name of teak is Tectona grandis, and it grows in Southeast Asia, mainly in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar. Teak wood occupied a prominent role in the 7th century, as wealthy people used it to build their houses. During that time, shipbuilders made boats and ships with it.
Over the years, teak wood was so much exploited that it became an endangered species. Today, many countries have banned the use and trading of teak, while others have legalized it by taking control of the teak industry.
You can identify teak through its oily texture and pungent leathery smell that gets accentuated while in storage. The wood has a yellowish to golden-brown coloration. Many types of wood resemble teak, so you need to know enough about this wood to ensure that you are getting the real thing when someone sells teak to you.
Oak is native to European countries, but you will find it in America and other countries in the northern hemisphere. There are over 600 species, but the two most popular ones are white oak (Quercus alba) and red oak (Quercus rubra). Oak has been cultivated as timber for thousands of years.
It can take up to 150 years for an oak tree to reach full maturity to harvest it for timber. It is heavy, strong, and durable, and people find it a cheaper alternative to teak. Its light color also puts it at an advantage against many other types of wood.
Teak Wood Vs. Oak: Appearance
The wood grain of teak is straight with some occasional waviness. It darkens with age and has an even, oily texture. Teak can be yellow to a golden brown. The shade varies according to the part of the tree.
Oak has a lighter color than teak which is in a way advantageous because you choose a wide range of colors to stain it. Oak has a straight grain with an uneven texture. You will also notice dark striations across the grain which gives the wood a striking appearance.
Teak Wood Vs. Oak: Durability
Teak is among the strongest and hardest hardwoods, making it a preferred wood 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.
You will not find oak as hard as teak, so there is a possibility of dents, scratches, and abrasion. However, it is still a strong wood and will last several years if maintained properly.
Teak Wood Vs. Oak: Maintenance
The key to getting the best out of teak wood is regular maintenance. After applying a suitable finish to the surface of teak, it still has to be clean regularly. You will also need to refinish it every few years.
When it comes to oak, if a proper finish is applied, even oak can last a lifetime. It is not uncommon to come across oak furniture handed over from generations. For best results, you can refurbish oak every year or so and clean it regularly in between. While cleaning the wood, ensure to use cleaning agents that are meant for oak.
Teak Wood Vs. Oak: Price
Teak continues to be one of the most expensive types of wood in the world. The price you pay for teak would largely depend on the part of the world from which it comes and the grade, as several grades and varieties of teak exist.
Oak, on the other hand, is relatively more abundant and is comparatively cheaper than teak. There are different grades and varieties of oak as well, so the price will fluctuate accordingly. If you want a sustainable, solid wood that isn’t too expensive, oak would be a good choice.
Teak Wood Vs. Oak: Sustainability
Despite a lot of effort worldwide to preserve and sustain this valuable wood species, teak continues to be a regulated type of wood. Some countries have stepped in to control all teak-related activities, so teak is sustainable in those countries. But teak is far from being a sustainable wood today.
Oak grows abundantly in Europe, Australia, and the United States. It is less exploited than teak, but if you procure virgin wood, it would be advisable to check for relevant certifications.
Teak Wood Vs. Oak: Comparison Table
|Botanical name||Tectona grandis||Quercus alba and Quercus rubra|
|Color||Golden brown to dark brown||Pinkish-red, light brown, or yellow with stripes|
|Durability||Extremely Durable||Fairly durable|
|Hardness (Janka Scale)||2,330||1,260 to 1,360|
|Strength||One of the strongest types of wood||One of the strongest types of wood|
|Maintenance||Needs regular maintenance||Needs regular maintenance|
|Price||Expensive||Expensive but cheaper than teak|
|Suitability for outdoors||Yes||Yes, if suitably treated|
|Suitability for wood carving||Yes||Yes|
|Workability||Easy to work on||Responds well to machine and hand tools|
|Smell||Pungent, leathery smell||No distinct odor|
|Availability||Difficult to procure||Moderately easy to procure|
Two types of wood that form the backbone of woodworking projects are teak and oak. Although teak has become increasingly rare over the years, it remains available if you look in the right places. On the other hand, Oak is much more available, and you can get some great results from this type of wood. Either of these wood types has the potential of getting you some spectacular results in your woodworking projects.