How To Identify Teak Wood

Written by Neighbor Editorial Team | @neighboroutdoor |

The perfect wood for outdoor furniture — here's how to different varieties of teak.

How To Identify Teak Wood

Teak is a popular wood choice for many furniture brands. It is historically strong, durable, and has a beautiful grain pattern. The tree that teak comes from is called the Tectona grandis, and is native to tropical regions in Asia, South America, and the Pacific. Hundreds of years ago, teak became sought after around the world by shipbuilders because of the wood’s natural ability to repel water and rot. When used in furniture, particularly in outdoor furniture, teak’s natural water-repellency and durability are key. If teak can live in water for centuries, surely it can live in your backyard without fear of mold and mildew growth.

Real teak, however, is expensive. If you’re considering owning a teak furniture item, it helps to get familiar with different wood species, how to care for teak, and how to identify real teak wood vs. fake teak. Below we outline what we’ve learned about teak and why we think it’s worth the investment for its longevity and quality.

Why teak is perfect for outdoor furniture

Teak is a dense tropical hardwood that has long been used for shipbuilding and construction because of its inherent durability. Real teak wood has natural oils that repel water, insects, and rot and can survive outdoors for many years. Here’s why we consider teak the best quality solid wood for outdoor furniture:

It’s attractive

The most obvious reason to love teak is that it looks good. The color of teak wood starts out as beautiful honey or golden brown color. Over time, teak weathers to a luxe silver-grey color. It never looks patchy or black, even after many years outdoors. For both indoor and outdoor furniture, teak is naturally attractive and has an enviable straight wood grain without many knots.

Durability

Teak is an extremely durable hardwood, even when left outdoors in all kinds of weather. When you invest in real teak, you can trust that it will last a long time without warping or cracking. Also, a piece of teak wood will not rust even where it comes into contact with metal. 

Teak wood

Sustainability

The production of teak throughout the world is extremely controlled due to early over-harvesting practices. Today, you’ll find that many furniture makers use teak from forests that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. FSC-Certified Teak ensures a responsible supply chain and supports sustainable forest management, reducing greenhouse gases, protecting wildlife, and preventing deforestation.

Toughness

Teak is a very dense hardwood, and you don’t need to finish it for it to last a long time. It’s heavy, and produces rich natural oils that protect the wood for a long time. You can use teak to build high quality furniture made of solid wood that will live in your home for a long time.

Weather-resistant

The best teak is water-resistant and can withstand the effects of rain, snow, and sun. Leaving your teak furniture outdoors will not affect its strength. In the beginning (assuming it is left untreated) weathering will change the color of your teak from honey brown to a silvery grey, but the integrity of the wood will remain for decades.

Resistant to decay and insect damage

As we mentioned, real teak has natural oils that repel insects, pests, and bacteria growth. Choosing outdoor furniture that is made of teak means you won’t have to worry about mold or mildew growth, or termites.

What are the different types of teak?

There are a few different types and species of teak, each with a few unique properties and differences. You can quickly classify teak by the grade and the region it was grown in, but it helps to know why they are different and why it matters.

Grade A Teak

The best teak comes from the heart of teak trees that have aged a long time. To qualify as Grade A teak, the wood must come from the center (heartwood) of a tree older than 25 years of age. Grade A teak has few knots, a rich color, the most natural oils, and no streaks. Grade A teak is cut with machines to ensure precision and has a very specific drying process.

Grade A Teak

Grade B Teak

Grade B teak Teak has more knots, a warmer color, and occasional streaks. It is usually cut from the less mature section of the heartwood. You’ll notice it has a more dull appearance, with fewer natural oils. If you want to make sure your teak furniture will last outdoors, Grade A teak is recommended.

Grade C Teak

The darkest teak is Grade C, which may also have white streaks. It is made from the youngest woos (also called sapwood). Some knots in Grade C teak are filled with epoxy or wood putty. Teak furniture made with Grade C is sold fully assembled, and can be handcrafted.

Burma Teak

Burma teak is often referred to as the most durable teak you can buy. Burma teak is always heartwood and has a uniform golden brown without markings. It may be oily to touch due to the wood’s high oil content.

Indonesia Teak

Although all teak comes from the same type of tree, it can vary from region to region. Indonesian-grown teak is aged well and is high quality due to the suitable soil and weather conditions. It has a wider grain and light brown, grayish color.

Southern American Teak

South American teak is grown in plantations. It has a high natural oil content and is high quality. Plantation teak is grown in controlled, and often environmentally-friendly conditions. 

Teak Lumber

How to identify real teak wood

Teak is fairly easy to identify if you know what to look for. Here’s how we identify real teak vs. fake or cheaper teak. 

  • Grain: First and foremost, teak has a long, straight grain. Cheaper teak will have larger knots. 
  • Color: The color of teak will vary from species to species, but the highest quality teak will have a golden-brown color. 
  • Scent: Teak has a natural oil content which makes it resistant to water, bacteria, and pests. That oil has a distinct smell, almost like leather. Higher quality wood will have more oil, which means you’ll pick up on the scent easier, especially right out of the box. 
  • Weight: Real teak is a very hard and very heavy. It will have a hard surface that shouldn’t break or crack.
  • Water-test: With high quality teak, water droplets should sit on the surface and not immediately soak in. 

In Summary

Teak is an expensive wood, but a worthy investment if you want your furniture to last a long time. Teak is especially worth it for outdoor furniture, although it will cost more than other outdoor furniture materials like aluminum and wicker. Look for outdoor furniture made of Grade A teak and you’ll have a beautiful piece that will last for decades in any weather. It is maintenance, strong, and tough. 

Neighbor teak outdoor furniture is made with Grade A teak from South America. Our entire Haven collection, including our teak outdoor sectional, teak outdoor chair, and dining furniture are extremely durable and made for all kinds of weather. Plus, We use solid teak frames that have a modern design and pair them with other long-lasting materials like Sunbrella fabric, quick-drying foam, and high-performance rope.  If you’re looking for teak outdoor furniture that is as attractive as it is tough, look no further than Neighbor.


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