In a world of manufactured products and high amounts of waste, “green building” seems like an ironic buzzword. We say we want it, but we also want something that looks like it came out of a mold. We can’t have it both ways. Wood is a truly green building material; it occurs naturally and is a renewable resource that provides a valuable ecological service. But it isn’t stagnant; each board is truly unique, and each species has its own movement tendencies.
Depending on the species, the appearance of wood also changes over time. While some like to preserve the coloring of freshly planed lumber, others easily become frustrated by it, preferring the darker, more mellow look of aged, oxidized lumber. While most lumber species change in subtle ways, some species alter their appearance more markedly. Teak is among those species that change rather markedly, undergoing a dramatic transformation over months and even years.
Practical for boat decking and other exterior applications, Teak’s golden brown hue makes it attractive. When properly kiln dried and seasoned, the freshly milled surfaces of Teak are exposed to oxygen and light, creating a streaky or blotchy appearance. Colors vary from black to green or even blue — far from the golden hue for which Teak is well known. Customers often find the irregular coloring unattractive and can easily blame the builder for the unsightly appearance of their new deck.
So what’s a builder to do? You need to address the issue before it becomes an issue. Before installation, let your customer know what to expect: Streaks will be present, but they will fade. Probably over a few short months.
While that might not be what they want to hear, it will be much better than seeing the finished product and being surprised. Instead of having what they want right away, they’ll have it to look forward to even after they’ve started enjoying their new boat deck or other exterior structure. If your customer insists on having their Teak project installed only once the lumber has been seasoned, you could opt instead to have the boards lay out in the sun for a couple months, allowing for transformation before the build.
Many customers and builders wonder whether the discoloration could be a result of improper kiln drying. In order to attempt to address that concern, some have tested Teak by experimenting with various kiln-drying schedules. It seems that the issue has to do with high amounts of light-sensitive pigment in the wood, and no matter the drying schedule or temperature, the wood responds the same way and takes the same amount of time for discoloration to fade. Exposure to light produces fading, and oxidation provides darkening. The timeline of change varies from weeks to months, with the most dramatic change occurring within the initial weeks. Complete transformation usually takes 2-3 months.
At J. Gibson McIlvain, we can help you place your Teak order and understand more about this amazing species.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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