In addition to Plantation Teak and issues with sourcing, the knowledgeable Teak buyer will carefully consider related issues such as re-drying,
The Issue of Re-Drying
Exotic lumber is almost always kiln dried to the European standard of 12-15% moisture content. For outdoor applications in which precision isn’t a necessity (think decks, siding, etc.), that will probably be fine. However, for interior applications or projects in which precision joinery is paramount, you’ll need to have your Teak re-dried to 6-8%; if you don’t, you’ll have some pretty major issues with movement during installation.
Of course, re-drying will add lead time and cost, as well as some waste, but it’s definitely worthwhile when you compare those issues with the cost of having to redo a job. A reputable supplier will understand wood movement and will let you know whether your project requires re-dried Teak. Here at J. Gibson McIlvain lumber company, we do re-dry most of our exotic lumber, but we leave some at the European standard in order to serve our customers whose applications do not require re-drying.
The Issue of Expectations
The issue of expectations also arises when it comes to Teak. Since this species is so different from any other, it isn’t sold according to the same specifications as other species. Strongly affected by the market-driven price point and the fluctuating availability of Teak, the price-per-board-foot has been on the rise for decades. Economic sanctions and the distance involved are both huge factors in the rising price of Teak.
With most lumber species, high quality boards are sold at much higher prices than short, narrow, or defective boards; in contrast, with Teak every inch of the tree is at a premium. As a result, the percentage of narrow and short boards we receive in a shipment is typically much higher than that of other species. And while “short” usually refers to boards that are under 8 feet in length, for Teak it only refers to those under 6 feet, making the percentage of boards typically considered short even higher.
The Issue of Demand
In addition to traditional marine applications, the growing popularity of Teak for other uses has led to a rise in demand for high quality Teak. Everyone who wants Teak wants FEQ Teak with straight, vertical grain. Because that level of quality Teak is such a minuscule percentage of a normal yield, a large volume of Teak must be purchased (all at a premium price) in order to meet the requests for FEQ Teak. When you add the fact that most requests are for long and wide boards, the tension increases. Even as the demand clashes with the supply, market value of each log continues to rise.
The response we recommend is to consider sizes other than extra-long, wide boards. Perhaps part of your project does require extra-large sizes, but other parts do not. When you realize the supply-and-demand (and related pricing issues) in play, you can work with your designer to utilize as much Teak that’s 6” wide or thinner and 6’ long or shorter. In the end, you’ll save money, waste less, and still have a great product in place.
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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