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What is Teak Wood?

By JJames February 10, 2020

For centuries teak wood has always stood out for its impeccable features and high priced woodwork. Many of you may not know why exactly this wood is a pride in the wood industry. For that reason, this article will enlighten you on all you need to know about teak wood, its origin, amazing facts and features of the wood and how you can use it to spruce up the furniture in your home.


teak wood

 

Origin:


Teak wood originates from Southeast Asia, Burma or the more locally known name, Myanmar. Due to its origin, it is also known as the Burmese teak. It is native to the south and southeast countries of Asia, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, and Burma.

In Burma, it is naturally grown or rather natural found since the early 7th century, but it is also grown in plantations in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Since the late 20th century, after the colonial period, Indonesia took control of the nation's most valued natural resource, teak wood and placed the PT Perhuntano forest reserve to be on charge of the plantation.

The company maintains the teak plantations sales and growth on the Indonesian island of Java. As the tree takes over 80 years to fully mature, they have to ensure replacement trees are planted when a tree is cut down for other purposes.

 

teak wood room


The Tectona is known to be a hardwood rainforest plant that grows in tropical areas. For the plantation teak, these conditions have to be maintained, and the soil is textured to emulate the Burmese teak. The plantation teak may grow faster, but it will still take over 40 years to fully mature to the great wood it is.


1. Facts about teak wood:


1.1. Teak wood is known to have interesting facts, and features unique to it's kind, but it could be difficult to identify for some. Below is an extensive list of this prestigious wood.

1.2. Tree size - the usual height is 100 feet to 130 feet. That is 30 to 40m as for the diameter, its 3 feet to 5 feet, about 1 to 1.5 meters wide.

1.3. Color - the actual color is golden brown, but the tree has two parts. The outer covering also is known as the sapwood is yellow-white while the inner part, known as the heartwood is golden, medium brown. The color of teak wool darkens with age. Also, check to see if the wood has been color stained as it will not show the real color of teak wood.

 

teak wood color


1.4. Grain - the wood has straight streaks or lines. They appear like strain lines running edge to edge. If the wood has waves or have interlocks, which is rare, it could be because of the design it was cut, or it’s not the original teak wood.

1.5. Texture - teak has a coarse feel to touch, its uneven and has moderate to natural fiber raw feel only. It's also glossy because of the natural oils it contains.

 

teak wood texture

 

1.6. Rot resistance - it has a gold standard on decay, the heartwood can resist termites and some specific pests. They only have moderate resistance to marine borer or the powder post beetles. 

1.7. Easy to work with - the wood has no resistance when it comes to working with it and general craftsmanship. But due to the high levels of silica about 1.4%, it has a blunt effect on cutting edges and also a light work when it comes to adhesives. For that though, it is advisable to wipe off oils before gluing. 

1.8. Odor - the wood has a leather-like smell due to the rubber especially after it is freshly milled.

1.9. Wood allergies - the wood is also said to give allergic reactions from the dust or the natural state. You could get small side effects like pinky eyes, rashes, nausea, and asthma from the wood dust. 

1.10. Weight - teak wood has a very dense feel and moderately heavy to carry.

1.11. Age - teak grows for over 40 years to 80 years, and after it is cut down, it takes 1 to 2 years for drying before its cut to lumber.

1.12. Types - teak wood has two types the heartwood and the sapwood. Since the sapwood contains most of the moisture from the tree, it tends to be weaker hence less valuable than the heartwood. 

 

teak wood artwork



1.13. Weathering - it tends to weather nicely in a nice silver grey finish.

1.14. Oiling - teak has a bunch of natural oils that give it the ability to resist rotting and pests. The oils maintained in the tree are like tea tree oil, among other oils.


2. Teak offers great applications such as:


2.1. Outdoor applications, the likes of patio furniture

2.2. Residential decking

2.3. Siding

2.4. Boat or marine building

2.5. Marine decking

2.6. Marine trimming

2.7. Yacht building

2.8. Marine millwork

2.9. Interior applications like flooring

2.10. Furniture

2.11. Moldings 

2.12. Custom millwork Carvings

2.13. Turnings

2.14. Small wood objects

2.15. Veneers

2.16. Frames


Due to the high content in oils and tight grain, it can be used for making cutting boards and countertops in the kitchen. In India, teak is exclusively used to make doors, window frames, furniture, and columns or beams in old type houses.

Teak wood is very known for its durability, because of that, the uses have no limit. Besides the above uses, it has also been used to make ship railings. As the years go by, rain has always been the main problem with wood, and it cost people a lot of money to maintain their furniture and ship quality.

The high oil content of teak also gives it its many uses as the wood becomes termite resistant. You will not need to manage to oil the wood now and then and to get mite dust. It is good for all seasons whether is summer, spring, winter or fall. The wood can handle it.

Aside from its durability and high oil content, the teak also has impeccable beauty. This critical component adds value in the market because of the golden brown color and the craftsmanship is offered, the furniture will turn out to be incredible.

It is said that in the 7th century, the wood was used to decorate the houses of the wealthy and powerful. That also applies now, executive hotels and suites use these wood to attract people to the interior design. The sight is just beauty to the eyes. Another deal about its beauty is that even when it gets old and weathered, the grey it gets is still beautiful. It has a great refined look.

For use in boat building, the teak wood gives off little maintenance considering the elements the wood faces on a day to day basis. The teak will wear into the softer summer growth band first. This will create a non-slip surface safer for use and convenience. Therefore the boat decking may not need any more sanding as it can damage the surface.

For the preservation of its life, using the modern cleaning compound or oils will deprive it of its natural oils and cause it to be less durable and stable for use. The oil that was once its strongest quality will be its downfall. For cleaning the boats, experts recommend the use of water and sea salt to maintain the oils that are located only a short distance to the white surface.

 

teak wood  carving

 

The salt will be used to prevent it from drying out or shrinking down which can cause adverse effects. It was also useful to prevent any growth of algae, moss or mildew. That should keep the teak stable and with a longer lifespan.



3. Pros and cons.


Pros

3.1. Hard

3.2. Strong

3.3. Durable and long-lasting a Rot resistant

3.4. Impervious to effects of sun, rain, frost, snow

3.5. Little or no maintenance

3.6. Highly valuable

3.7. Naturally beautiful

3.8. Easy to work with

3.9. Stable

3.10. Doesn't crack, wrap or darken with contact to metals


Cons:


3.11. Expensive Rare to find

3.12. Problems when it comes to gluing


Pricing:


Because it is rare to find, it is very expensive in the market. It’s the most expensive lumber in the market. All the factors used to determine depending on the thickness, the width, and the length. The higher these factors are, the more expensive it will be.

Another factor used is whether it is from a plantation or its natural. That affects the quality and pricing as well. The Burmese teak is harvested in Burma, Myanmar and when it matures, and the lumber is stable, it tends to be more durable than the plantation type.

The plantation teak grows in chemical soil that makes it different and inferior. The color is usually less glossy and lighter in color.

Since the plantation teak is grown rapidly, it will have less beauty and less durability for furniture. The wood will cost you more maintenance over the years because of the deficiencies.


Conclusion:


Teak wood has outdone itself with all these great features. It may be a rare gem to find and will probably empty your pockets, but it will be worth it with no maintenance costs and rot plus weather resistant. This is a wood you should have in your home.


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