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.
The botanical name of Teak is Tectona grandis. This species of tropical hardwood belongs to the family of flowering plants, Lamiaceae.
Tectona grandis is a deciduous tree that can grow as tall as 40 meters. It is commonly found in mixed hardwood forests. White-colored flowers of the teak tree are small and highly fragrant, arranged in clusters at the end of branches. Leaves are large and papery, with a hairy surface on their underside. Teak wood has a smell of freshly milled leather. As mentioned earlier, teak wood is valued for its excellent durability and water resistance. Due to this reason, teak wood is used in building boats, furniture, exterior construction, veneer, tunings, carvings, and other wood projects.
Tectona grandis is native to Asia, majorly south and southeastern Asia, which includes India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Bangladesh.
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Teak trees are known around the world, majorly because of their fine quality wood. 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 smell of freshly cut wood is like leather. 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. 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%.
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
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 Burma teak (the real 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.
Classification of Teak Wood
Types of teak wood are classified on many bases such as:
The 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 Burma 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.
Way of Growth
Real teak wood is yielded in old-growth forests of South Asia. The teak wood that is obtained from plantation forests is called plantation teak wood. This type is gaining significant popularity due to the limited availability of natural teak wood.
Area of Origin
The teak wood that is real is native to Southeast Asia.
Once you are sure that what you are getting is the real teak wood, you can go ahead with your purchase confidently.
Types of Teak Wood On The Basis of 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. It 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 an inferior quality of teak wood. 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.
Types of Teak Wood On The Basis of Origin
The types of teak wood on the basis of country of origin are listed below:
Burma Teak Wood
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.
Indonesian Teak Wood
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.
African Plantation Teak Wood
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.
South American Plantation Teak Wood
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.
Indian Teak Wood
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.
Thailand Teak Wood
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.
Brazilian Teak Wood
The real name of Brazilian teak wood is cumaru. 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.
African Teak Wood
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 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.
South American Teak Wood
The real name of this type of teak wood is garapa. It is very stable and durable. It is golden-brown in color with wavy wood grains. But it is not real teak wood.
Chinese Teak Wood
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.
Uses of Teak Wood
Teak wood is durable and water resistant that makes it suitable for various uses.
- 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.
- 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 furniture. It can withstand rain and sun. It can last as long as 70 years, even after exposure to extreme weather conditions.
- It is used to make railings of decks.
- It is used for making decorative items for indoors.
- It is used for flooring.
- It is used for shelving.
- It makes great cutting boards and countertops.
- It is extensively used to make doors and windows.
Caring For Teak Wood
- 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!