Teak – Total Wood Species Guide

PROS: Teak’s hardness is somewhere between black walnut and black cherry. Teak is a soft to medium hard wood. The grain is straight with the occasional slightly wavy pattern. The grain is coarse and fairly uneven. Teak ranges from pale yellow to yellow-brown to golden brown. It has beautiful chocolate brown streaks. Teak is a very dense wood that is resistant to termite attacks. It holds nails well.

CONS: Like Australian cypress, teak is also an oily wood. After you sand, you do not want to wait and let your floor acclimate. The oily substance in the wood is sap or resin. You want to coat it quickly as to not let the natural resin rise to the surface and seep into the coating. It has a dull luster so you will need to use a semi to high gloss finish. I recommend using a solvent before you apply the stain. This allows the stain not to interact with the natural oils present in the wood. Teak will dull saw blades. Teak sands very well but will clog up the pores of your sandpaper quickly. You will need to change your sandpaper frequently. It is not a good floor for high traffic areas.

TREE FACTS: Two out of the three species of teak are on the endangered species list. These species of teak have been susceptible to unsustainable harvesting practices for decades. Some people have reclaimed old teak in a distasteful way. They have taken it from houses that have been demolished for the purpose of getting the old teak and replaced them with brick and concrete homes that have been in the Western style. There have also been cases where teak is sold under the pretext that it is sustainably produced but evidence shows that it has in fact been produced by child labor. The majority of the teak that is imported into the United States comes from socially and environmentally questionable sources. Only if it has a Forest Stewardship Council certification can you guarantee that it has been environmentally harvest. Teak usually comes from Indonesia, Myanmar and other countries in southeast Asia. Sometimes it comes from Central and South America. Teak is also used for furniture and canoes.