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What’s So Great About Teak Furniture

by Alex Harris
Teak Furniture

If you’re shopping for outdoor furniture it won’t take long before someone starts talking about teak. And for good reason. Teak outdoor furniture has a well deserved reputation for quality, durability and beauty that make it one of the most popular of all hardwoods.

Teak has a long history of use across a wide range of applications including boat building, general construction, decking and flooring, as well as indoor and outdoor furniture. It has long been a prized hardwood, being used for boat building for over 2,000 years and for construction and decorative purposes since around the 7th century.

Teak is native to south and southeast Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka. It is also cultivated in countries in Africa and the Caribbean. Myanmar’s teak forests account for nearly half of the world’s naturally occurring teak.

But it is in Indonesia where teak is really taken seriously. Since the mid-20th century, the Indonesian Government has carefully managed the country’s teak plantations, with strict controls on the number of trees that can be felled each year, as well as planting new trees for every tree that’s taken.

India is also a major producer of teak and is home to the world’s oldest teak plantation. Sourcing your teak from these kinds of plantations ensures you are getting sustainably grown teak that doesn’t contribute to deforestation.

But what’s so great about teak when it comes to furniture?

Benefits of Teak

Teak wood is a close-grained hardwood. When freshly milled it has a distinctive leather-like aroma and, when dried, has a golden brown colour. When left to naturally weather, teak develops a beautiful silver-grey patina.

Teak has a high natural oil content and high tensile strength, while being relatively easy to work with. It holds screws and nails well, paints and varnishes bond well to the surface and stains are optimally absorbed.

Teak is hard, but not so hard to be difficult to work with. On the Janka Hardness scale for all woods, teak has a rating of between 1,000 to 1,155 lbs, which is harder than English oak, cedar and mahogany.

This hardness means that teak is incredibly durable. In fact it is considered to be one of the most durable woods. It is close grained, high in minerals and natural oils, making it virtually impervious to weather and water damage, as well as being resistant to rot, fungi and mildew. It also has natural resistance to termites and other wood boring insects.

The wood has a relatively low shrinkage ratio, which makes it excellent for applications where it undergoes periodic changes in moisture.

Like all wood, however, teak does crack, with small cracks or splits (known as checks or end grain checking) sometimes appearing due to changes in temperature and the water content of the timber. However, due to the natural strength of the timber, it’s rare that these cracks will disrupt the strength or structural integrity of your teak furniture.

Because of these factors, when it comes to outdoor furniture, teak requires very little maintenance to protect it from the elements and keep it looking great.

If you’re shopping for outdoor furniture, it’s worth putting teak at the top of the list. It may cost a little more, but it will last a lifetime with very little care or maintenance required.

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