A Touch Of Teak – Its Benefits and Uses

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After a little break we are back with part 3 of our series on wood types. This week I’ll be discussing Teak. If you haven’t already read parts 1 and 2, feel free to go check them out here: All about Pine Wood & All about Oak Wood.

A Little Info About Teak

Teak is a deciduous tree with a latin name of Tectona which often grows up to 40 metres (130 ft) tall. Ideally a Teak tree needs to be at least 40 years old if the best wood is to be harvested, but new technology has enabled good quality wood to be produced once the tree has reached just 10 years of age.

It is one of the most expensive mass-produced woods in the world. Indonesia is the worlds leading producer of teak and its importance to their economy has helped to sustain replanting programmes.

The Benefits Of Teak

Teak has a high oil content making it very weather resistant, therefore it offers good elasticity. This means it’s an ideal timber for garden furniture and boat decks, amongst other things. Another great benefit of Teak’s high oil content, is that it gives the wood a high resistance against insect infestation.

It is a hard and heavy wood, with older teak trees supplying the best quality timber. However, Teak has a high silica content; making it renowned for blunting wood working tools!

Teak Can Take The Heat!

A survey that was carried out in 2000 found that Burmese Teak and Plantation Teak were ranked as the best performing woods for resisting cracking and warping under different humidity and temperature conditions.

Teak Facts

  • There are just 3 teak species, the most popular is called ‘Common Teak’. All 3 timbers have their own natural warm glow (when cut), also as a result of the high oil content.
  • Before Teak trees are cut down, the water content is drained. This is done by making a cut to the under side of the tree. This draining process typically takes 2 years before it is ready for use in furniture making and other products!
  • The leaves of the teak tree are edible and often used in a dish called jackfruit
  • 2 species of Teak called Dahat and Phillipine Teak are endangered
  • The fruit of the Teak tree is called drupe

Finishing Teak Wood

External Teak tends to go silver quite quickly (within 3 years) due to the effects of the sun’s UV rays. The silvering of the teak can be treated with Osmo’s Wood Reviver Gel which contains ingredients that help to chemically reverse the greying process. Typically, after treatment, it takes around 24 hours for the colour of the timber to return. It can then be treated with an exterior wood oil or Teak Oil. A light sand will also normally do the trick although the amount of sanding required depends on how long the teak has been left in the sun and rain etc. Once the teak has been restored back to its’ natural warm glow, it can then be re-finished with Barrettine Teak Oil to maintain the natural lustre.

Oiled Teak

Teak oil is a blend of linseed oil, other ‘seed oils’, including rapeseed oil and vegetable oils. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t contain Teak oil! The natural oils in the teak oil nourish and protect the wood, making it ideal for use on both internal and external wood. Alternatively Osmo teak oil spray 008 can be used. It is a more durable teak oil that offers greater durability and requires just 2-3 initial coats rather than the 3-5 coats necessary when using ‘regular Teak oils‘. External softwoods should always be treated with a suitable wood preservative before applying the teak oil to prevent wood related diseases such as wet rot, dry rot and blue stone. Exotic hardwoods including Teak are naturally resistant to these issues and although applying a wood preserver may not be necessary, it certainly doesn’t do any harm to treat it.

Despite what is commonly believed, it is not ideal to sand oily woods ‘as fine as possible’ because it is the open ‘pores’ of the grain that help the oil to sink into wood grain. Indeed it is always advisable to sand wood with sandpaper that is no finer than 150 grit when oils are to be applied.

Other Teak Resources

For more information on Teak, see the following resources: –

Well, I hope that’s put to bed some of the mis-teak surrounding this wood. Next time we’ll be discussing… Beech!

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