What is Teak?

Teak Forest

Teak is a tropical hardwood tree native to countries in south east Asia and parts of India. These trees grow tall and straight, producing a beautiful and easy-to-work timber that has been used in ship building and the production of luxury furniture for centuries.

Teak is considered to be one of the finest hardwoods available and is a material synonymous with quality and elegance. Its natural durability elevates it far above other hardwoods, and with proper care, owners can expect to pass teak furniture down to future generations of family. Teak benches can be considered an investment that will last a lifetime and are a greatly sought-after commodity for anyone looking to enhance their garden.

What makes teak so good for outdoor furniture?

Teak is a large, slow-growing tree that produces a timber prized for its outstanding strength and resistance to outdoor conditions. Here are some of the key facts about teak:

Durability

Moisture Resistance

Pest and Mould Resistance

Teak can last a lifetime if taken care of properly and can be passed down through generations. Much of the antique furniture available today is made of teak.

The high oil content of teak wood provides it with exceptional water resistance and is even commonly used on ship’s decks. Teak patio furniture can be left outside throughout the year without fear of decay.

Though mould can grow on the surface of teak if left unattended for long periods, it will not rot through due to the natural chemicals and mineral content in the wood. These minerals also afford protection against insects and fungus.

Aesthetic

Density & Hardness

Low Maintenance

The straight, uniform grain of teak and its light brown colour give it an understated appearance. When left untreated, it will fade to an equally appealing silver-grey patina.

Due to its high density, teak is exceptionally hard-wearing and does not warp or crack over time like other hardwoods.

All of these properties mean that teak furniture requires little maintenance and only the occasional brush down to keep clean. The natural oils in the wood means no sealant is required.

 

How Does Teak Compare to Other Hardwoods?

Many excellent hardwoods are available that serve to make hardy, long-lasting outdoor furniture but teak’s natural resilience to adverse conditions is what promotes it to best in class. For a side-by-side comparison against other popular alternatives, take a look at the table below.

Teak vs Roble vs Acacia

 

Teak

Teak Timber

Roble

Robel Timber

Acacia

Acacia Timber

Colour

Light-brown

Light-brown to golden tones

Multi-toned from light, to amber, to dark brown stripes

Grain Aesthetic

Straight, tight grain

Straight, tight grain, narrowly interlocked

Attractive swirling and wavy patterns

Durability

25 years +

20 – 25 years

10 years

Hardness & Density

Very hard and dense

Harder and denser than teak

Variable, can be harder than teak but is generally less dense  

Waterproofing

Highest water resistance, requires no treatment

High water resistance

Water resistant

Rot & Pest Resistance

Best resistance to rot and decay due to high silica content, good resistance against pests

Mould and insect resistant

Mould and insect resistant but requires more regular care

Maintenance

Little to no maintenance

Annual maintenance

Annual or twice annual maintenance

 

The Simple Beauty of Teak

In terms of aesthetics, teak is characterised by its tight straight grain and light golden-brown colouration, providing it with a timeless and refined appearance. The oils present in the wood give teak benches a gentle lustre and means they require no additional treatment for protection. Over time colouration can fade to a silvery-grey as the surface oil of the wood is lost but this can be easily remedied if you prefer the richer appearance of the fresh timber.

The durability, resilience and refined appearance of teak is why it has been used for construction and furnishings for thousands of years. There are teak beams in palaces in Myanmar and India that have lasted many hundreds of years without requiring replacement, such is the extraordinary staying power of this particular hardwood. It comes as no surprise that owners love to say “it’s real teak” when showing friends and family their new purchase – this particular hardwood has been a recognisable seal of quality throughout history.