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Teak, Plantation

Common Name(s): Teak, Burmese Teak


Sometimes called Burmese Teak, this name is used to differentiate natural-grown trees (typically from Myanmar, aka Burma) from Teak grown on plantations. Used extensively in India and within its natural range for centuries, Teak has grown into a worldwide favorite. With its superb stability, good strength properties, easy workability—and most of all, its outstanding resistance to decay and rot—it’s no wonder that Teak ranks among the most desired lumbers in the world.


Much like the many names and knockoffs of Mahogany, the moniker “Teak” has been affixed and assigned to a number of different woods seeking acclaim. The usual procedure is to  take a wood bearing any degree of resemblance to Teak and insert a geographical location in front of the name. For instance, Cumaru is sometimes referred to as Brazilian Teak, while Rhodesian Teak bears little botanical relation to real Teak—Tectona grandis. The name Burmese Teak, however, does refer to genuine Teak.

Thicknesses

Subject to availability

4/4
5/4
6/4
7/4
8/4
9/4
10/4
12/4
16/4
20/4
1/2"
3/4"
1"

Thicknesses

Tree Size: 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Distribution

Native to southern Asia; Widely grown on plantations throughout tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Scientific Name

Tectona grandis

Specific Gravity: Basic 

0.55

Specific Gravity: 12% MC

0.66

Janka Hardness

1,070 lbf (4,740 N)

Colour/Appearance

Heartwood tends to be a golden or medium brown, with colour darkening with age.

Grain/Texture

Grain is straight, though it can occasionally be wavy or interlocked. Coarse, uneven texture and moderate to low natural luster. Raw, unfinished wood surfaces have a slightly oily or greasy feel due to natural oils.

Endgrain

Ring-porous or semi-ring-porous; large to very large solitary earlywood pores, medium to large latewood pores, few; solitary and in radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses and other heartwood deposits (light-coloured) common; medium rays visible without lens, spacing normal; parenchyma vasicentric, and banded (marginal), with bands sometimes wide enough to enclose entire earlywood pores.

Rot Resistance

Teak has been considered by many to be the gold standard for decay resistance, and its heartwood is rated as very durable. Teak is also resistant to termites, though it is only moderately resistant to marine borers and powder post beetles.

Workability

Easy to work in nearly all regards, with the only caveat being that Teak contains a high level of silica (up to 1.4%) which has a pronounced blunting effect on cutting edges. Despite its natural oils, Teak usually glues and finishes well, though in some instances it may be necessary to wipe the surface of the wood with a solvent prior to gluing/finishing to reduce the natural oils on the surface of the wood.

Odor

Teak can have a leather-like scent when freshly milled.

Allergies/Toxicity

Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Teak has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation, as well as other health effects, such as pink eye, rash, nausea, asthma-like symptoms, and vision effects.

Pricing/Availability

Despite its widespread cultivation on plantations worldwide, Teak is very expensive. It is perhaps one of the most expensive lumbers on the market, at least for large-sized, non-figured wood. Other woods are more expensive, but are typically only available in small pieces, (i.e., Gaboon Ebony or Snakewood), or they are valued solely for the figure of their grain (i.e., burl woods, Pommele Sapele, or Waterfall Bubinga).

Sustainability

This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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