Best Ways to Identify Teak Wood
Teak wood is a unique type of tropical hardwood that comes from the Tectona grandis tree that’s native to Southeast Asia. Teak is strong, durable, and highly water resistant, making it a great option for outdoor decks and furniture. Thanks to its many weather-resistant qualities, teak can hold up for many years and takes very little effort to maintain. If you’re considering using teak for your deck or furniture, it helps to further familiarize yourself with the wood quality so you can determine if it’s worth the investment. Check out the Teak Master team’s guide to identifying teak wood.
Benefits of Teak Wood
Teak wood is a thick hardwood that has a long and illustrious history. The Dutch used this wood to build their ships in the 17th and 18th centuries, and due to its durability, it’s become one of the most popular woods for outdoor furniture and decks. Some of its benefits include:
- Inherent beauty: Teak has a stunning golden honey color that slowly fades into a darker brown with age, giving it a truly regal look.
- Overall durability: Unlike other types of wood, teak is tough, and it’s generally immune to even the most extreme weather conditions, so it won’t rot easily.
- Termite resistibility: Since teak is so durable, it’s more resistant to termites and other critters, meaning it can last for generations, even in warm climates.
- Low maintenance: The long-lasting durability of teak and the natural oils it contains means that the wood doesn’t require a lot of treatments and annual maintenance.
Classes of Teak Wood
Not all teak is the same, and the different classes have a few different properties and characteristics. Differentiating between these classes makes it easier to categorize teak and assess its quality. The classes of teak wood include:
Class A teak has a solid, uniform color and comes from a tree that’s usually over 25 years old. To get its robustness and rich color, the teak must come from the very heart of the tree. This type of teak has the least amount of knots and blemishes, and it undergoes a special finishing process that ensures its quality.
Class B teak also has a strong appearance, although it may look a little duller and contain fewer natural oils. This type of teak often has more knots, whorls, and dark spots, and it’s less uniform than Class A. While this teak may last a long time outdoors, it’s not as resistant as Class A.
Class C teak is the darkest type of teak and the lowest quality. It comes from young trees, so it hasn’t had a lot of time to accumulate natural oils and build up resistance. Wood manufacturers may fill the larger knots in Class C teak with wood putty. If you’re looking for a more durable teak, you’ll probably prefer to go with either Class A or Class B.
How To Identify Quality Teak Wood
The lifespan, hardness, and overall quality of teak can vary depending on the region it came from and the soil and weather conditions of that region. Teak that’s grown in Indonesia, for example, has a wider grain and a richer, lighter brown color due to the warm temperatures, the nutrient-rich soil, and the rainy season. Here’s the simplest way to identify high-quality teak:
Assess the Color
Teak’s tawny golden color has made it one of the most recognizable woods available, and natural teak may have a golden streak or two when freshly cut. Remember that lower-classed teak will have a darker color and larger knots. Some teaks may have more of a yellowish-white color.
Check the Grain
The grain of wood traditionally refers to the distinctive pattern of the fibers in the wood. Quality teaks have long, straight grain or dark lines. Tropical climates with plentiful soil make this beautiful grain possible. The texture of the grain is also important, and teak is coarse with varying levels of silica. Cheaper teak may have lines that are slightly curvier or even wavy.
Feel the Weight
Real teak tends to be quite heavy, as it’s a highly dense wood packed with layers of silica and natural resins. Teak also has a rock-hard surface, as opposed to a more spongy and flexible surface. If the wood feels light, it’s probably not real teak.
Test for Oils
Teak produces a lot of natural oils, and it should be oily to the touch. As the teak ages, the oil accumulates and adds weight to the tree. Unlike other solid wood, teak has more oil and less water. That’s part of why it has such a distinctive color. Oil is an important factor in the overall quality of teak. The older the teak, the more oil it has. The oil in teak also has a rich, woodsy aroma all its own.
Determine the Resilience
Due to its exceptional properties, teak wood is highly resilient and should be able to withstand weather, bugs, and sun. It won’t warp, crack, and deteriorate as easily as other wood types, making it ideal for outdoor furniture. Higher-classed teak can last decades, if not a lifetime. If a wood wears down from fire, pests, and regular weather, it likely isn’t quality teak.
Popular Teak Types
While teak used to grow only in Southeast Asia, today, you can find it all around the globe. Some of the highest-quality types of teak include:
- Indonesian teak: This teak grows in the rainforests of Indonesia, and it’s highly sustainable and extra water resistant.
- South American teak: This teak is environmentally friendly and offers natural protection against insects, termites, and rot.
- African teak: Despite being harvested for a slightly shorter period, this teak has a straight grain and a rich color.
- Thai teak: Teak from Thailand has more exposure to harsh conditions, resulting in a sturdier finish.
Teak can be expensive, but it’s well worth the price if you want a superior quality wood that can withstand the test of time. No matter what type of teak you choose, it’s always beneficial to refinish it from time to time to help it retain its gorgeous color and durability, and Teak Master is here to help you with your next project. We offer a variety of teak refinishing services so you can keep your furniture or deck in top shape, so feel free to contact us online for more information.