Teak lumber, which is becoming increasingly popular in North America due to its attractiveness and its versatility, is a tropical hardwood that is imported most often from India, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Central America.
Teak lumber, as a very hard and heavy type of wood, is extremely durable. It is very resistant to decay and acid, which makes it a great choice for outdoor applications. Another reason teak is so well-suited to exterior projects is its resistance to insect damage. Teak contains a very high concentration of silica oils, which, in addition to providing the wood with a beautiful lustrous appearance, also act to secure the wood against damage from insects, including termites. These oils, which are very close to the surface of the wood, are so naturally effective, in fact, that treating teak, if done improperly, can actually damage the wood. Certain cleaning compounds and preservatives actually act counter-productively and ultimately shorten the lifespan of teak lumber. Therefore, experts at lumber manufacturing companies only wash teak with salt water, as this prevents drying and shrinkage while still allowing the lumber to retain its moisture levels, silica concentration, and natural algae and mildew resistance.
Teak is a favorite among woodworkers for a number of reasons. For example, the wood, despite its hardness, heaviness, and durability, is actually relatively easy to work. Teak has moderate bending strength and steam bending, as well as low stiffness, meaning that teak lumber is both workable and stable. Although the silica content that helps teak stay so naturally resistant to insects and the elements can also sometimes blunt cutting tools, this is easily prevented by simply maintaining those tools properly.
In terms of appearance, teak is considered a very attractive wood. The heartwood is a yellow-brown or golden-brown hue, in both light and dark variations, and the sapwood is grayish white in color. The grain of teak lumber is rather straight, and the wood’s texture is very coarse. As such, sanding the lumber to obtain a slip-resistant surface is quite unnecessary, and as the wood wears, it has a tendency to become even more slip-resistant. Teak’s attractive appearance, combined with its workability and durability, has made the lumber popular in outdoor applications, including ship decks, doors, window frames, columns and beams, and outdoor furniture, as well as interior projects, such as flooring, cutting boards, counter tops, and indoor furniture veneers.
Although environmentalists have recently expressed concern over the sustainability of certain imported hardwoods like teak, such concern is generally unwarranted, as long as the wood is purchased from a reputable supplier. Organizations exist, such as the Perum Perhutani and Forest Stewardship Council, for the sole purpose of managing forests and overseeing foresting practices. Teak that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council is guaranteed to have been grown and harvested in a carefully managed and certified sustainable forest.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company has an extensive inventory of teak, all of which has been certified for sustainability and responsible foresting practices by qualified third party organizations. For more information on teak or other woods, visit www.mcilvain.com today.
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