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10 Different Types of Teak Wood

Get to know the different types of teak wood based on its grade and origin and know its wide range of applications as well as tips for caring for your teak wood furnishings and even how to determine its quality.

Teakwood texture

Teak wood is quite popular, owing to its durability and water resistance. It is one of the most expensive types of wood that are available today. Let’s look at this popular wood type in detail!

Through this article we will look at the characteristics of the tree itself, the qualities of the wood species, the quality of wood grain and other characteristics, and of course, the multitude of uses for this remarkable wood type!

Teakwood can be used in many ways. Teak outdoor furniture is highly valuable, and is one of the most coveted exotic woods. Along with outdoor teak furniture, this wood type is used as teak hardwood, for wood boards, garden furniture, indoor furniture, and cupboards and framing as well.

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The Teak Tree

Tectona grandis is a member of the lamiceae botanical family. This is a tropical hardwood tree that is native to mostly south and southeastern Asia in places like India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Bangladesh. Teak plantations can be found in regions that have similar growing conditions to these countries.

Leaves

Teak trees are deciduous. This means that they have leaves that will usually change colors and fall away as the colder seasons approach. The leaves will emerge again in the early spring once days become warmer again.

Teak tere leaves are quite large, up to 17 inches in length, and are an ovate/elliptic shape. Leaves are large with a papery texture and will commonly have a downy underside. They are a deep green color.

Bark

Teak tree bark is warm brown color with a gray tinge. It has vertical ridges with shallow fissures. Trees become more textured with age.

Flowers

Teak tree flowers are borne in dense clusters that are comprised of many small, white, and very fragrant and pleasant smelling flowers. They emerge at the end of branches in the spring time. They are just another attractive feature of the teak tree.

Growth Pattern

Teak trees are actually one of the fastest growing tropical hardwood trees there is. They can live to be over 100 years and  can achieve heights up to 130 feet (about 40 metres) within that time.

These trees have very long and narrow trunks. Branches start to emerge about halfway up the trunk of the tree and extend to a far reach from the trunk. They tend to have very robust crowns that provide excellent shade.

Teak Wood Description

Teak trees are known around the world, majorly because of their fine quality wood. It is said to have a smell very similar to leather when the wood is freshly milled. Due to its high oil content, teakwood is known for having great tensile strength. It’s also valued for its tight grain.

Because of these characteristics, teak wood is the most suitable wood species when it comes to weather resistant applications. The texture of teak wood is hard and ring-porous. The density of wood varies with the moisture content. It is usually 600kg/m3 at 15%.

The heartwood (extreme center of the log) of Teak is yellow colored but as the tree ages, it becomes darker. At times, dark colored patches are present on it.

The sapwood (the outer area of the log, around the heartwood) is white to pale yellow-brown in color. It can be distinguished from heartwood easily.

This wood takes very well to stain, paint, sealer, and other finishing products. It can be worked by hand and by machine. It is also resistant to damage from insect pests like termites.

Genuine teak or old growth teak can be rather pricey because of its exceptional high quality. It is also commonly used as reclaimed wood because of its incredibly long length of durability.

Uses of Teak Wood

Teak wood is durable and water resistant that makes it suitable for various uses. It’s high oil content, tight grain, and tensile strength make it very valuable for applications where the wood will be subjected to a ton of weather damage.

  • Teak wood is used in marine woodwork because of its exceptional weather-ability. It is used to make railings, decking, cabin woodwork, and onboard furniture. Teak wood is a good material for building masts and rudders as well
  • Teak wood is durable, weather-resistant, water-resistant, and extremely stable; this is why it is one of the most popular types of wood used to make outdoor teak furniture. It can withstand rain and sun. It can last as long as 70 years, even after exposure to extreme weather conditions (it can withstand high patio uv rays exposure)
  • Railings of decks
  • Decorative items for indoors and outdoors
  • Teak boards for wood flooring (similar look to red oak)
  • Shelving
  • Cutting boards and countertops
  • Window framing and door framing
  • Teak bench (outdoor or indoor)

Botanical History

Carl Linnaeus the Younger formally described Tectona grandis in his work Supplementum Plantarum in 1782. Later in 1975, new descriptions of four types of this species were published by Harold Norman Moldenke in his journal, Phytologia. Each type varied with the other slightly. The forms of this species as described by Harold were:

  • grandis f. canescens: This type was densely canescent (covered in hair) on the underside of leaves
  • grandis f. pilosula: It had a varying leaf morphology
  • grandis f. punctata: This type had hair on larger veins that were present on the underside of the leaf
  • grandis f. tomentella: It had sense yellow tomentose hair on the underside of the leaf.

Types of Teak Wood

Trunk of a Teak tree in a forest.

There are many different types of teak wood. There are so many that people may actually get lost in the market of wood furniture or hardwood flooring.

There is Burmese teak (genuine teak wood), Asian teak wood, Indonesian teak wood, Chinese teak wood, African teak wood, Golden teak wood, South American teak wood, Philippines teak wood, plantation teak wood, Thailand teak wood, Indian teak wood, Malaysian teak wood, and so on and so forth.

There is no possible way for an ordinary person to know different types of teak wood. We have listed the types so that the next time you visit the market, you have sufficient knowledge about it, and may even be able to identify it just by look and feel!

Classification by Botanical Name

Many wood types are available in the market that looks more or less like teak wood in appearance and color. The only real teak wood is the one with a botanical name tectona grandis, commonly known as the Burmese teak wood. For example, golden teak wood look a lot like real teak wood but its botanical name is robinia wood or black locust wood.

Classification by Growth Habit and Region

Real teak wood is yielded in old-growth forests of South Asia. The teak wood that is obtained from plantation forests is called teak plantation wood. This type is gaining significant popularity due to the limited availability of natural teak wood.

Teak wood logs

Classification by Grade

The types of teak wood vary with the grades. The grading of teak wood is done on the base of quality that determines the durability of wood constructions and furniture.

Grade A Teak

The highest quality teak wood is Grade A teak wood. The timber in this grade is obtained from the extreme center of the log (heartwood) of a tree that is fully mature. It is recognized by a uniform golden-brown color. It has close grains and a glossy surface which is oily to touch.

Grade A teak wood has a high quantity of natural oils that are responsible for the outstanding resistance of teak wood to outdoor elements. They protect it from harsh weather conditions and repel insects. It is very pricey because it is only fifth to one-quarter of the entire log.

Grade B Teak

The timber that is obtained from the outer heartwood makes Grade B teak. It makes to about one fourth to one-third of the entire log. Thus, it is lesser in price as compared to grade A teak. It is lighter in color. Grains are uneven and the wood has less shine. It has a very small amount of teak natural oils. It does not withstand extreme outdoor conditions and needs certain protective treatments.

Grade C Teak

It is the inferior quality of teak wood, though is still high in quality compared to other wood types. The timber is obtained from the outer sections (sapwood) of mature logs of immature trees. It contains near to no natural oils. The color is extremely uneven.

It gets damaged easily because it is soft. Since it does not have any protective natural oils, it is not suitable for outdoor furniture. It is so low in quality that it is unsuitable even for indoor use. It is not even close to the durability or beauty of grade A teak. It is inexpensive. The lifespan is very short even after periodic protective treatments.

10 Types of Teak Wood on The Basis of Origin

The types of teak wood on the basis of country of origin are listed below:

1. Burmese Teak Wood

Teakwood logs in Myanmar

Scientific Term: Tectonic Grandis

Growing Region: Southeastern Asia, Africa, Latin America

Height: 100-130 ft

Janka Hardness: 1,070 lbf

Burma teak wood is an old-growth tree that is native to forests of Burma and Myanmar. Their growth time is more than 50 years. It is the best quality teak wood that is available today. It has a golden color, elegantly distributed grains, and a high amount of teak natural oils. It is the most durable type of teak wood among all.

The heartwood is commonly a golden or a medium brown color that only becomes darker as the wood ages. It will have either an impeccably straight grain, or grain that is wavy. It is coarsely texture with a natural luster.

Burmese teakwood is commonly used for applications that require resilience against weather damage, like ship building, for outdoor furniture, as well as for veneer and other small woodworking objects as well.

2. Indonesian Teak Wood

Indonesian Teak Wood

Scientific Name: n/a

Growing Region: Indonesia

Height: 100 ft

Janka Hardness: 980 lbf

It is also called Asian teak wood. Like Burma teak wood, it is also real teak wood, native to Indonesia. The growth time of his type of teak wood is about 30 years. It is one of the best plantation teak wood all around the world because of soil and weather suitability.

The quality of Indonesian teak wood is secondary to Burma teak wood. It has wider grains, a significant quantity of teak natural oils, and sound knots. It is light brown in color with a slightly grayish hue.

3. African Plantation Teak Wood

Teak treetop in Africa

Scientific Name: Afromorsia Elata

Growing Region: Central Africa

Height: 160 feet

Janka Hardness: 1,070 lbf

African plantation teak wood refers to the teak planted in Africa. Its growth time is 15 to 25 years, as a result of which it is low in teak natural oils. Thus, African plantation teak wood is not as durable as Burma teak wood or Indonesian teak wood. It is very light brown in color. The wood grains are distributed widely apart. It has a lot of sound knots.

It is known as being a moderately heavy but still durable timber. It is used in similar applications, like boat building, wood joinery, and for decorative veneer work as well.

4. South American Plantation Teak Wood

South American Plantation Teak Wood

Scientific Name: n/a

Growing Region: South America

Height: 100-120 feet

Janka Hardness: 970 lbf

South American plantation teak wood refers to teak wood planted in South America. It is similar to African teak wood in quality, color, teak natural oil content, and arrangement of wood grains. It is difficult to distinguish between these two types of teak wood.

5. Indian Teak Wood

Indian Teak Wood

Growing Region: India

Height: 100 feet

Janka Hardness: 1,070 lbf

Indian teak wood is one of the very popular types of teak wood. It is native to old-growth forests in India. The excellence of Indian teak wood is similar to that of Burma teak wood but because of the high demand of this teak wood in India, there is almost no supply of Indian teak wood in the international market.

This wood is valuable because the trees actually have the opportunity to grow into old growth teak. This means that the wood will be a beautiful color, it will be dense and filled with valuable oils, and it will make for beautiful furniture.

6. Thailand Teak Wood

Teakwood logs in Thailand

Growing Region: Thailand

Height: 90-120 feet

Janka Hardness: 1,100 lbf

Thailand teak wood is superior in quality to Burma teak wood. You read that right! Thailand teak wood is the highest quality teak wood in the world because the growth conditions for teak in Thailand are exceptional. However, Thailand teak wood was overexploited in Thailand as a result of which it has been declared an endangered species and its logging has been prohibited by the government. Hence, there is no supply of Thailand teak wood in the international market.

7. Brazilian Teak Wood

Teak forest in Brazil

Growing Region: South America

Height: 50-80 feet

Janka Hardness: 3,540 lbf

The real name of Brazilian teak wood is cumaru, or it is sometimes referred to as ipe wood. It is not real teak wood. It is a Brazilian hardwood native to South America.

It is very hard, stable, water resistant, and durable. It is high in natural oils which make it water resistant and resistant to worms and pests. The arrangement of grains is very different from that of real teak wood. The color of Brazilian teak wood is not golden-brown but is reddish-brown.

8. African Teak Wood

African Teak Wood

Growing Region: Africa

Height: 100-120 feet

Janka Hardness: 1,000 bf

African teak wood is not real teak wood. Its actual name is iroko. African teak wood is very stable, durable, and water resistant. It looks nothing like real teak wood. The grains are arranged in a straight pattern and it has almost no knots. It has good resistance to rotting and damage. It is often used as a substitute to teak wood for outdoor furniture and wood constructions.

9. South American Teak Wood

South American Teak Wood

Growing Region: South America

Height: Varies:

Janka Hardness: Varies

The real name of this type of teak wood is garapa, and it is a different species of tree, but it is still labelled as a teak wood. It is very stable and durable. It is golden-brown in color with wavy wood grains.

The reason why it is marketed as teak wood is because of the similar applications and overall look and quality of the wood. However, because it is not genuine teak wood, it it a far more affordable option.

10. Chinese Teak Wood

Chinese Teak Wood

Growing Region: China

Height: Varies

Janka Hardness: 1,155 lbf

Chinese teak wood is also called golden teak wood. It is not teak wood. Its real name is Robinia wood or black locust wood. It looks very similar to real teak wood and hence it is widely used as teak wood.

It has grain arrangement similar to that of real teak wood. It is stable and heavy. It is not easy to distinguish between real teak wood and Chinese teak wood. It is available at just40% of the real teak wood price.

As you may have noticed, there are many different wood species that are labelled as teak. This is a way to reel the customer in, but please them by the affordability of this alternative.

Caring For Teak WoodPolishing teak wood chair

If you do have the pleasure of having furniture items, outdoor teak furniture, or teak flooring, there are some very important things to know when it comes to maintaining these items. Though as we have learned that the wood is wonderfully resilient, there are still ways to make its life even longer!

  • The high quantity of teak natural oils protects teak wood from rot. However, teak wood can turn gray when exposed to direct sun. The natural color of teak wood can be preserved by coating the woodwork and furniture with marine or spar varnish. This would deflect the ultraviolet rays of the sun that are responsible for breaking down the top layer of teak wood, resulting in its discoloration. The conventional polyurethane varnishes are not UV protective; hence, they are not effective.
  • The best way in which you can protect your teak furniture is by coating it with teak oil which is a mixture of varnish and tung oil. It is highly penetrating.
  • Mold can build up on outdoor woodwork and furniture hence periodic cleaning is required. You can either power wash the teak furniture or you can scrub it with the following solutions:
    • A cup of bleach with a scoop of laundry detergent in one gallon of warm water.
    • A cup of vinegar in one gallon of warm water. (Rinse thoroughly using clear water after you have scrubbed teak wood furniture or woodwork.)

Teak wood is valuable. Furniture made from the teak tree is very expensive. One may be easily fooled over the type of teak wood used if they do not have considerable knowledge about the types of teak wood. After this detailed account on types of teak wood, we are sure you can easily go about in the market confidently and not be fooled!

FAQs

Are teak wood utensils safe?

Not only are teak wood utensils safe to use for food preparation, it is also soft enough to use on your non-stick panware and it won’t chip it or cause damage! Additionally, because the wood itself is so durable and water resistant, the utensils won’t warp and split apart as much as other wood products might when they are used for food preparation.

Can I use plastic on a teak cutting board?

If anything, plastic is a less harmful thing to use on a cutting board than a sharp knife would be. Luckily, teak wood is hard and durable enough that no real damage will come from using anything from a plastic knife to a stainless steel knife.

Is teak wood expensive?

Because of its high quality, overall beauty, and rarity of the trees themselves, teak wood can get pretty pricey. Luckily, there are many, cheaper alternatives available on the market that share a lot of the same qualities, but are a more sustainable option!

Is teak wood waterproof?

Teak wood has a very high oil content. This means that the wood itself is very resistant to damage from water and other weather damage. The grain is also very close, meaning that it’s more difficult for water to bleed into the heartwood.

Can I stain teak wood?

Teak wood takes to staining very well. It is only suggested that one uses a clear stain, as it would be a shame to cover up the naturally beautiful color and luster of the wood itself.

Should teak wood be sealed?

If one is looking to maintain the durability of a wood product, it is always a good idea to seal the wood after the product is done. When it comes to teak, it does not require a water proof sealer as the wood is naturally water resistant.

Which teak wood is best for doors?

It is said that Burmese teak wood is the absolute best option you could use for a high quality door. This door will not only be beautiful, but it will withstand the test of time.

Where does the best teak wood come from?

It is known that the absolute best teak wood you can find is Burmese teak wood. This is also labelled as being “genuine teak wood”. Some of the best old growth teak also comes out of Burma.

Will termites eat teak wood?

Though teak is somewhat resistant to termites, they will still attack the sapwood but not the heartwood. The sapwood is the outer layer of the trunk, whereas the heartwood is the inner layer that is used for furniture making. Luckily, termites don’t touch the heartwood!

Can you sand teak wood?

Yes, you can sand teak wood using 320 grit sandpaper. Always make sure that you sand with the grain so that you don’t leave any marks behind. Start by sanding a small, inconspicuous area to ensure that it will be OK to sand the entire thing.

Is teak wood sustainable?

Teak wood is a durable, natural, and beautiful wood species that has long been susceptible to overharvesting. If you’re looking for sustainable teak wood, make sure you purchase teak wood products from reputable sources where deforestation and overharvesting are not taking place.

What oil to use on teak wood?

Applying oil to wood furniture can protect it, nourish it, and give it a beautiful finish. However, you should not apply oil to your outdoor teak wood furniture.

If you want to oil indoor teak wood furniture, Danish oil is the best choice since it contains nourishing linseed. Make sure you choose natural Danish oil, or else it may contain a pigment that could change the color of your teak wood furniture.

Can you use mineral oil on teak wood?

Mineral oil fills the pores in the wood, making it a great choice for butcherblock-style wood countertops. If you want to use mineral oil on teak wood, make sure that you choose a USP-grade mineral oil designed for outdoor use.

Is teak wood good for outdoor furniture?

Teak wood makes excellent outdoor furniture because it holds up well against weather and the elements, and has a high resistance to issues like rotting, insect infestations, and acid damage.

This wood is natural in oils that can repel moisture and insects, and it’s also very easy to maintain.

Over time, outdoor teak wood furniture will develop a beautiful, silvery gray color and it only needs an occasional wipe-down to remove dirt and debris.

Its beautiful, natural grain and varying textures also make teak wood a popular choice for outdoor furniture, although it is more expensive than some other types like wicker or aluminum.

Does teak wood float?

Yes, teak wood does float due to its high density. In fact, teak wood was once used to make decks and was actually used to make the deck of the Titanic. When teak wood logs are harvested, they are transported by floating them down tropical rivers.

Does teak wood mold?

Overall, teak wood is quite resistant to mold, however, mold can still appear on the surface of the wood. It’s best to clean your teak wood furniture every so often to remove excess dirt and debris and keep it dry as often as possible, just in case.

Does teak wood crack?

Teak is an extremely dense wood, but it can still be vulnerable to small cracks over time.

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