Teak wood is one of the most popular types of lumber to use for many outdoor applications. It’s durable, weather-resistant, and has an attractive appearance.
Teak wood comes from a type of tree that grows in Southeast Asia. There are four different types of teak woods: white, yellow, brown, and black. Each variety has its unique properties, making it suitable for different projects.
For example, the lighter colors are more suited for indoor furniture while darker varieties provide better protection against rot because they contain natural oils such as tung oil or linseed oil.
Choosing the best type will depend on your specific needs and tastes!
What Is Teak Wood
Teak wood comes from a type of tree that grows in Southeast Asia. There are several types of teak wood, and each variety has its own unique properties, which make it suitable for different projects.
For example, the lighter colors are more suited for indoor furniture while darker varieties provide better protection against rot because they contain natural oils such as tung oil or linseed oil. Choosing the best type will depend on your specific needs and tastes.
Where Does Teak Wood Come From?
Teak wood is a tropical hardwood that comes from teak trees, which are native to South Asia. The wood comes from an evergreen tree that grows in tropical areas, mostly in monsoon rainforests of the south of Asia. Teak wood can be found throughout Thailand, Myanmar, India, and Indonesia.
However, many of the forests have been cut down due to over-logging, so it’s more difficult for suppliers to find natural teak woods nowadays.
Characteristics of a Teakwood
Teak Wood Color
The teak wood color depends on the species of the tree and also, as previously mentioned, its quality.
- Green (unseasoned)
- Yellowish-brown (semi-seasoned)
- Golden brown (seasoned)
Teak Wood Grains
Teak wood is famous for its beautiful grains. In fact, you can easily identify teak from other types of woods because the grain patterns are very distinctive, and it’s also known as “the queen of woods” since it’s been considered to be one of the best materials in building homes for centuries.
The grains are the most easily identifiable feature that can be seen on teak furniture or anything made with this wood type. Usually, grains are straight, but they can also be wavy depending on the sawing pattern.
They should not be confused with blackened wood which usually comes from water damage over time. The more uniformed and straighter graining patterns on teak suggest that less blunting occurred in the submerged environment.
Also Read: Types of Blackwood
Types of Teak Wood Based On Grade
1. Grade A Teak Wood
This type of Teak Wood has been approved by the Thailand Quality Institute (TQI) and comes with an approval seal from TQI, which certifies that the product conforms with quality standards for this category.
Such pieces have been kiln-dried but may still contain some moisture content that will dry out naturally over time as they are exposed to air. These products do not require separate seasoning before use. They can be used immediately after purchase without further processing.
2. Grade B Teak Wood
Pieces in this category are not required to meet the quality standards of grade A teak; however, they must be free of large cracks or other visible defects that affect their strength and durability when used for construction purposes. Such pieces will be air-dried but may still contain some moisture content that will dry out naturally over time as they are exposed to air.
These products do not require separate seasoning before use; however, it is best to store them in a covered area with good ventilation so that excessive levels of moisture can escape.
It is recommended to wait at least six months after treatment before using the wood for construction purposes because the chemicals used in preservation may still be present in small amounts.
3. Grade C Teak Wood
Pieces in this category are not required to meet the quality standards of grade A or B teak; however, they must be free of large cracks or other visible defects that would affect their strength and durability when used for construction purposes.
Such pieces will be air-dried but may still contain some moisture content that will dry out naturally over time as they are exposed to air.
These products do not require separate seasoning before use; however, it is best to store them in a covered area with good ventilation so that excessive levels of moisture can escape.
It is recommended to wait at least 12 months after treatment before using the wood for construction purposes because the chemicals used in preservation may still be present in small amounts.
Also Read: Types of Red Wood
10 Types of Teak Wood on The Basis of Origin
1. Burmese Teak Wood
Burmese Teak Wood is native to the forests of Burma and Myanmar. They have been growing for over fifty years. Their teak wood is the best in the world. With an elegant grain distribution and a lot of teak oil, this hardwood has a golden color. Among the types of teak wood, it is the most durable.
Burma Teak Wood can be used for flooring, furniture making, boat building & construction purposes, etc. It has an attractive grain pattern which makes it good for use in high-quality furniture making; pieces will have no visible knots or holes with very little waste during cutting or shaping processes; sanding to smooth surfaces will produce clean results without any sanding marks.
2. Indonesian Teak Wood
Indonesian Teak Wood or also known as tropical teak wood, is one of the most famous and popular plantation teaks. Its fame and popularity not only because of its high quality but also its high price (sometimes more expensive than mahogany).
The market now mostly used for this type of wood is still a small part from branch roots or lower trunk. This is because Indonesia has large plantations owned by companies with a good management system that makes it easy to control quality. Teak plantations in Indonesia are 60 percent owned by state-owned businesses with a cultivation area of about 3 million hectares.
Many woodworkers prefer to use it because of its strength and durability. But teak is quite soft, so it’s not suitable for making furniture with a smooth surface such as dining tables or bedroom furniture unless you first coat the teak with varnish.
Teak can be used to make furniture that has flat-curved surfaces, such as an outdoor patio, which is usually exposed directly to the weather and will take more weight.
The color of this type of wood varies from light brown to light grey hue. This color is mainly due to the process of plantation and soil suitability where they grow. Other than those two factors, there are no other reasons why each tree obtains a different color.
This type of wood has good stability and workability. It is easier to make curved shapes compared to Burma teak wood because it has less fiber density. But due to the low resin content in this wood, its durability is still relatively short (around 4 – 6 years). Teak forests located in southern regions have better quality than those plantations found in northern parts of Indonesia, where trees grow more slowly with low resin content.
3. African Teak Wood
African Wild Teak Wood is native and grows naturally among the rain forests of Southern India and Sri Lanka. The tree has a life expectancy of over 70 years, and during this period, it provides its highest yield. The yield ranges from 30% to 45%, depending on the age of the tree, its location, and other factors. As a result, it shows characteristics such as high oil content (34%), medium grains, and more irregular grains than plantation teak wood.
4. South American Plantation Teak Wood
South American Plantation Teak Wood is also known as South American Teak Wood.
The color of teak wood is golden yellow to dark brown-red in the dry condition, which turns to dark grayish brown upon exposure.
South American Plantation Teak Wood has a very coarse texture with open pores and straight grain. It has no characteristic knots or resin canals, but it follows the annual rings closely.
South American Plantation Teak Wood is primarily used for heavy construction, joineries, flooring works, etc., where strength and durability are important features along with secondary uses in carpentries, furniture making, butcher blocks, etc.
5. Indian Teak Wood
Indian Teak Wood is a type of Teak wood from India. It can be used for flooring, carving, and furniture making. The trees belonging to the species are indigenous to southwestern India and southern Thailand. The Indian teak tree grows up to 55m tall with broad, deciduous leaves that range from 5–15 cm long by 2.5–6 cm wide; they are slightly larger in the middle of the tree’s crown.
It flowers in May, usually before leafing. The inflorescences are fragrant and white with a purple tinge; they consist of a spicate (spike-like) raceme with 10–30 flowers on short pedicels 1mm long. The fruit is an ovoid 2.5 to 3.3 cm berry containing one seed.
It is a very durable timber that has a number of uses, many of which have been known for centuries in Asia, where it is known as “Molay Kundram.” In India, it is commonly called “Deodar” or ‘devadaru.’ It is one of the most common woods used as firewood.
Also Read: Types of Cedar Wood
6. Thailand Teak Wood
Thailand’s teak is superior to Burma’s teak wood in terms of quality. It is a very different kind of wood, related to mahogany, but even more durable and weather-resistant because the wood comes from deciduous trees.
The natural color of Thailand teak is tan or cream with darker streaks, but it doesn’t last long before the sun turns it grayish brown. Many people prefer this look over the original because it ages so well. It also has a very fine texture.
With its unique appearance and durability, Thailand teak wood is used for numerous products besides outdoor furniture. It’s very common with boat building, including for hulls and exterior paneling. Scaffold boards are made of it, as well as commercial shelving, pipe fittings, window frames, and doorways. In the USA, if a door is labeled “Teak” or “Teakwood,” there’s a 99% chance it’s from Thailand.
The government has forbidden its logging because Thailand’s teak wood was overexploited there, so it is an endangered species.
7. Brazilian Teak Wood
The Brazilian Teak Wood is the most commonly used wood type for decking, outdoor flooring, building exteriors, and furniture.
It is unique in that it is highly resistant to rotting, insect damage, and other types of deterioration, making it a very popular choice for outside-built structures. It has an aesthetically pleasing color, texture, and finish, which enhances its resistance to decay while still maintaining a high degree of durability. Brazilian Teak Wood also has great dimensional stability, which allows it to withstand various environmental conditions, including extreme temperature changes, without warping or splitting.
Brazil’s abundant rain forests produce about 80% of the world’s supply, with Indonesia coming in second at approximately 8%. Due to deforestation, there is now a movement towards sustainable forestry involving managed plantations with sustainable yield quotas.
8. Chinese Teak Wood
Chinese teak wood is a popular kind of timber for furniture-making and other purposes in the world, but this species is relatively less common than Indian or Indonesian teak.
The species is named “Tectona grandis,” and it belongs to the family of the Verbenaceae. This tree is native to Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, Thailand, and Myanmar. Also called golden teak wood, Chinese teak wood comes from Asia. The wood is not the same as teak wood. As a result, it is widely used for teak wood because it looks very similar to real teak wood.
Similar to teak wood, it has a grain arrangement. In addition to its durability, it is quite heavy. Chinese teak wood is hard to distinguish from real teak wood. Prices are just 40% of those of the real thing.
9. Philippine Teak Wood
The philippine teak is an endangered wood species. It is known scientifically as “Tectona philippinensis” or locally called the Philippine Teak. There are no other teak species in the Philippines, but you could find them under different local names such as “Talisay tree,” lauan, Virola, pao ferro, yellow meranti, and balui, among others.
The locals might not know that they are using a type of teak wood because of its physical resemblance to other locally available woods, especially its color, which varies from creamy white to pale pinkish red.
The Philippine Teak is an excellent furniture timber similar to the real teak found in Burma. It has very good weather resistance properties without being treated with preservative chemicals. It is also very durable when in contact with soil and water. The wood has a smooth, fine, and even texture that makes it easy to work with.
It has good finishing qualities making it appropriate for all types of furniture production, including cabinets, fine furniture upholstery, boat building, and joinery flooring, among others, due to its durability.
The heartwood tends to darken over time, becoming almost black but maintains its straightness without any tendency to warp or twist, which makes it an ideal timber for cabinetmaking.
10. Banyuwangi Teak wood
Banyuwangi Teak wood is a unique and rare type of teakwood that comes from India. The Banuywangi Teak is distinguished with its dark color and curly grain pattern. Its durability makes it most used for boatbuilding, flooring, furniture making, cabinet making, and other quality woodworking projects.
Banyuwangi Teak is very hard with a heavy knotty grain pattern. It comes from India or Sumatra. It is straight-grained with a coarse texture. The color of the heartwood darkens upon exposure to light to a chocolate brown color which becomes nearly black on aging.
It is commonly used for heavy boat building, furniture making, cabinet making, and other quality woodworking projects.
Also Read: Types of Wood Joints
What is The Durability of Teak Wood
Teak wood’s durability is high because it will not give under pressure, so the wood rarely splinters. It does not expand or contract with humidity levels which makes it resistant to rotting. Because of these reasons and more, teak wood is a preferred choice for outdoor furniture and many pools and patio decks.
Teak wood has natural oils in its cellular structure that repel water, making it difficult for insects and moisture to penetrate the surface of the wood. This means that teak can be used outdoors without treatment if kept dry.
However, like all woods outdoors, some protection from the elements (sunlight, rain) is best as continual outdoor exposure can affect color and texture over time; those looking for a more permanent solution use traditional protective finishes.
How to Take Care of Teak Wood
Wood is a living thing. Like any living thing, it needs protection and care to keep it healthy—a sort of “skin” or protective barrier that keeps air-borne substances from reaching the wood fibers, causing damage.
Teak is an oily wood with natural teak oil in its pores. Over time, exposure to air causes the natural teak oil on the surface of the wood to oxidize, forming a dark patina finish on furniture surfaces which can usually be dulled by sanding back to reveal the lighter new growth beneath.
Treating Your Teak Wood Furniture
Teak furniture is best cleaned with a garden hose, avoiding direct stream contact with wood surfaces. Hose down the furniture thoroughly every few weeks to remove any dirt that has accumulated or after it has been exposed to rain or harsh sunlight conditions.
Using common dish soap and water on your teak furniture is acceptable as well if needed. Avoid using chemical soaps which can strip off your finish. Check first for colorfastness if you are considering cleaning new teak with bleach solutions.
Keep Your Teak Wood Oiled
Apply oil regularly to keep your wood fresh and protect it from drying out or cracking. You can take precautions by applying a coat of boiled linseed oil on untreated or newly finished surfaces before exposing them to the elements.
You can also use a commercial water-repelling product available in hardware shops for protecting surfaces against rain, snow, and other outdoor elements. Make sure your wood has dried completely before applying any oil or repelling product. Oil applied on the still-wet surface may cause streaking or uneven staining of the finished surface.
To Remove Oil Stains:
Use simple household ammonia in warm water with a sponge to clean up accidental spills of teak oil onto fabric furnishings, fabrics, carpets, or floors. Follow up by wiping down with dish soap and water. Be careful not to over-saturate the material being cleaned, as this can lead to a color loss of insensitive fibers like wool or silk.
For Heavy Scratches:
If you have heavy scratches on your teak, use a sharp x-acto knife with a #11 blade to cut along the grain of the wood towards the scratch, applying firm pressure until you can feel slight resistance when running across shallow scratches. Repeat with an opposite slant in the same direction to “sand” out scratches. This is best done before oiling or staining your furniture.
Never, Ever Try These Things on Your Teak Wood Furniture!
Do not expose teak wood furniture to harsh weather conditions for prolonged periods of time if it hasn’t been previously treated with an oil/water repellent product which will protect against moisture absorption and swelling. Do not attempt to refinish teak wood furniture yourself or hire a professional to do so.
Please do not attempt to use bleach as a cleaning solution for your teak wood furniture as it can damage the natural oils in the wood fibers, causing them to dry out and crack. Avoid using chemical cleaners that contain acetone, as these are very harsh products that can strip away your stain or finish from any type of surface, including teak furniture.
If you are looking for a hardwood that is durable and resistant to weathering and insect attack, it has an attractive coloration with the natural golden-brown hue of its heartwood or sapwood contrasting nicely against the light cream or white tones of its innermost layers; then teak might be your perfect match.
Teakwood has been popular for centuries and is still used today to make items like furniture, floors, and decking because it’s durable and resistant to damage. Let us know which type of wood you want to give a shot. What are you waiting for?
Comment below what types of teak wood you’d be interested in trying out on your next DIY project!
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Lawrence D. Reynolds is an experienced carpenter and woodworker who started this site to help others get into this craft by providing advice on choosing tools and materials and sharing How-To guides about woodworking. He has been into Woodworking for over 25 years and enjoys nothing more than sharing his knowledge and helping others learn about this wonderful material.