For boats as well as decks and docks, Teak is a popular choice. While other tropical hardwoods such as Ipe and Cumaru are even more celebrated in the decking industry, the boating industry relies heavily on Teak due to its unique combination of durability, water resistance, and consistent appearance. Because FEQ Teak is easily matched across a wide surface, J. Gibson McIlvain takes great pride in buying only this premium grade of Teak.
Even though streaks may appear after machining, Teak mellows into a consistent golden brown appearance with vertical grain. Teak holds its shape after it’s milled, positively impacting the species’ durability and stability and ideal use for boat building and other applications in which it would be exposed to tight tolerances and harsh conditions.
The naturally occurring silica content actually impregnates the wood fibers, making it almost completely waterproof. (This characteristic is much more dependable in old growth Teak, so J.Gibson McIlvain does not currently use plantation Teak.) This wood’s natural oils additionally help repel insects.
As the future of the Teak industry continues to succumb to undulating regulations relating to trade with Myanmar, Teak lumber buying will continue to become more and more complex. As new suppliers enter the market and a ban on exports is discussed, Burmese Teak will likely become less readily available. As a result, customers need to ask themselves the following two questions about any prospective Teak supplier:
Do they have the sizes you need?
Teak is sold differently from most lumber species. It’s not sold like rough-sawn lumber, but it’s not quite like an S4S dimensional product, either. Instead, it’s sold in sizes closer to the finished product, but there is some leeway like rough-sawn products, too. Since this premium wood is certainly not cheap, you don’t want to risk much overage; every board foot counts.
As one of the largest suppliers of old growth FEQ Teak in the US, J. Gibson McIlvain carries a wide variety of sizes, including extremely wide (24” and wider) and long (20’ and longer) boards specifically milled for the boat building industry.
Has the Teak been re-dried?
When any tropical hardwood lumber is kiln dried, it’s almost always dried to European standards of 12-15% moisture levels. For exterior applications that don’t require precision, that won’t be a problem. However, for yacht building, it definitely is. So you would need to make sure it’s been re-dried to 6-8% moisture levels, or movement issues will compromise your build. Of course, re-drying will mean more production time and added cost and wastage. A good Teak dealer will ask you how you plan to use the Teak and will be able to explain movement issues that determine the right Teak for your project.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful applications of Teak is in a single long, wide board covering the gunnel or a bookmatched set for the port and starboard sides of a boat. Occasionally, due to overstock on these cover boards, you may even be able to obtain them at a discount.
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.
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