What is Teak Wood?

When it comes to patio furniture, teak wood is more preferred by consumers. Why is this so? Teak wood is known for its unique, natural beauty, its strength and resilience and also for its ability to resist pests. In fact, teak has always been a prized material.

Teak or Tectona grandis is native to the tropics. This has been long used as wood that adorns the homes of the wealthy and powerful. It was also used for shipbuilding due to its ability to ward off dry rot.

Where does teak come from?

Teak was originally grown in Southeast Asia in countries like Thailand, Burma, and Malaysia. In Indonesia, the government had a corporation in place dedicated to managing its bountiful teak resources.

PT Perhutani maintains the official teak plantations on the Indonesian island of Java. This company ensures that there are a predetermined number of trees that can be felled each year. And whenever a tree is felled, a new one is planted in its place.

Because only mature teak trees are used to make fine furniture, it can take around 80 years before a teak tree planted today is chopped down to be used for wood. This is why even old teak wood is reclaimed and used to make new furniture or to be used as building material.

A few facts about teak wood

  • Teak is the common name given for tropical hardwood tree species called Tectona grandis. This tree can grow to a towering height of 130 feet or more.
  • Teak is found in South and Southeast Asia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Burma.
  • Teak has a lovely natural color. It is mostly golden or medium brown but this glow won’t last long because it darkens over time.
  • Teak is very strong and is weather resistant as well.
  • Teak contains a high amount of oil. More oil means that it can resist rotting or decay.
  • Teak doesn’t crack, warp or become discolored when exposed to metals or chemicals.
  • Teak will naturally resist termites and other pests.
  • Older teak trees which are between 40 and 80 years old provide the best wood.
  • Teak must be dried for 1-2 years before these can be used as lumber or building material.

The value of teak furniture

The natural oils and rubber found within teak is what makes it very valuable as a building material and as furniture. There is a great number of natural oils and rubber in the tight grain of the teak wood. while most trees contain oils that protect the tree like maple and tea tree, teak can retain these oils and its rubber even after being chopped and processed.

Due to these properties, teak has greater weather-resistant properties than just about any kind of wood. When teak wood is properly dried, around 10 percent of its original content is retained and this includes the oils and rubber which weatherproof the wood.

The natural oils found in teak can protect the wood from dry rot and protect the heart of the wood from pests like fungi and parasites which often destroy regular wood.

These properties also make teak the best one for manufacturing outdoor furniture. As teak patio or outdoor furniture weathers over time, the wood changes from a honey brown color to a silvery gray one. This adds to the natural beauty of wood.

There is no need to spend more money on annual waterproofing for your outdoor furniture. Because teak is an extremely durable and strong wood this piece of furniture can last for years and years.

But there is one type of teak, called sapwood that does not have the same robust properties that regular teak wood has. Sapwood is named for the outer layer of any tree with the inner layers of the tree known as the heart.

Since trees grow outward from its center, the natural oils are found basically in the heart of the tree. And because of this, teak heartwood is considered more valuable than sapwood. This makes teak heard more expensive.

Conclusion

Teak wood is a lovely, durable and expensive building material used for making prized furniture and decorative wooden pieces at home. Teak has natural oils that can still be present in wood despite being felled or processed and these characteristics make teak a truly valuable wood to be used for many years to come.

  • January 5, 2019
  • DIY
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