Home>Blog>A Comprehensive Guide to Teak Wood Furniture: Benefits, Care, Durability

A Comprehensive Guide to Teak Wood Furniture: Benefits, Care, Durability

Castlery   |   Nov 20, 2023

Teak wood is one of the most popular and highly sought-after types of wood in the world. Its durability, strength, and natural beauty make it a popular choice for furniture - especially outdoor and patio furniture.

If you are looking to add a touch of elegance to your home and create an outdoor space that will stand the test of time, teak wood is an excellent choice that is sure to impress.

But, before diving right into making the investment, it’s important to know how to care for it and how it’ll thrive in the environment you live in.

That said, we’ll take a comprehensive look at what teak wood is, including its benefits, care, and durability.

What is teak wood and where does it come from?

Teak wood comes from the Tectona grandis tree, which is native to Southeast Asia, including countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and India. These countries are some of the world's largest producers of teak wood.

Close up of teak wood. Each piece of teak wood that is natural and high quality is unique.

However, the tree has also been introduced to other regions such as Central and South America, Africa, and the Caribbean.

High-quality teak wood is usually harvested from mature trees, which can take about 25 years to reach full maturity.

This natural, durable wood is valued for its strength, resistance to water, rot, and insects, and its beautiful golden-brown colour that develops a rich patina over time. Hence, it’s a popular choice for outdoor furniture as it can withstand the elements without compromising on style.

What makes teak wood exceptional

Durability

Teak wood is highly durable due to its natural oils and resins, which make it resistant to water, rot, and insects.

This makes it ideal for outdoor use, where it can withstand harsh weather conditions without deteriorating. Additionally, teak wood is highly resistant to warping, cracking, and splitting, which helps to ensure that it will last for many years.

A teak outdoor dining table and 2 teak chairs with fabric cushions. The Rio Teak Dining Table with the Rio Teak Dining Chair Set.

But, the longevity of teak also depends on how well you clean it and protect it from the elements during off-peak seasons.

Strength

Teak wood is one of the strongest and most stable woods available. It has a high tensile strength, which means it can withstand a lot of weight and pressure without breaking.

Additionally, teak wood is resistant to impact damage, which makes it a good choice for high-traffic areas.

Low maintenance

Teak wood is relatively low maintenance and requires minimal care to keep it looking its best. It can be cleaned with a soft-bristled brush and mild detergent, and periodic applications of teak oil can help maintain its natural beauty.

Teak wood is also resistant to staining, which is why it's a good choice for outdoor use.

Natural beauty

Teak wood has a beautiful golden-brown colour that develops a rich patina over time. This natural beauty makes it a popular choice for furniture and decorative items.

A teak outdoor dining table with cutlery and plates. The Rio Teak Dining Table can withstand the elements so you can enjoy your meals in the summer.

The colour of teak wood can vary depending on the age and origin of the wood, which means that each piece of teak furniture is unique. Teak wood can be left untreated to maintain its natural colour or can be treated with teak oils to enhance its appearance.

What are the different types of teak wood?

There are different grades and qualities of teak wood, which can vary depending on the location where it is grown, the age of the tree, and how it is harvested.

Here are some of the different types of teak wood based on their grades and qualities:

Burmese teak

Burmese teak is widely considered to be the highest quality teak wood available and is often classified as A-grade, with A-grade being the highest quality. It is grown in Myanmar and is known for its rich golden-brown colour, high oil content, and fine, straight grain. Burmese teak is highly prized for its durability and resistance to weathering.

Indonesian teak

Indonesian teak is another popular type of teak wood that is known for its strength, durability, and attractive golden-brown colour. Like Burmese teak, Indonesian teak is often classified as A-grade or B-grade.

B-grade Indonesian teak may have some colour variations, knots, or other imperfections, but is still considered a high-quality wood that is suitable for many applications.

At Castlery, we use Grade B+ Indonesian teak for our Rio Collection.

An outdoor teak dining table with 4 chairs and a bench. The Rio Teak Dining Table with Bench and 4 Chairs overlooks @oakanorange’s yard. Credits: @villastyling and @dekorhaus_

Indian teak

Indian teak is often used as a lower-cost alternative to Burmese teak. It is typically lighter in colour than Burmese teak and has a coarser grain. However, Indian teak is still highly durable and resistant to weathering.

African teak

African teak is a hardwood that is grown in West Africa. It is similar in appearance to teak wood and is often used as a substitute for teak in outdoor furniture and decking. African teak is highly durable and has a rich, reddish-brown colour.

Plantation teak

Plantation teak is grown in sustainable forests specifically for the purpose of harvesting the wood. It is typically less expensive than teak wood that is harvested from natural forests, but it is still highly durable and resistant to weathering.

Plantation teak can come from a variety of locations, including South America, Africa, and Asia.

How do you identify authentic teak wood?

When it comes to investing in teak wood furniture, ensuring authenticity is paramount. But, identifying real teak wood can be tricky, as there are many different types of wood that are sometimes marketed as "teak" but may not actually be the real thing. Here are some factors to look for when trying to identify real teak wood:

  • Colour: Teak wood is known for its distinctive golden-brown colour, which can vary slightly depending on the age and origin of the wood. However, be aware that some woods may be stained or treated to mimic the color of teak, so colour alone is not a foolproof indicator.
  • Grain: Teak wood has a tight, straight grain that is often interlocked or wavy. The grain may also be slightly oily to the touch. If the wood has a different grain pattern or does not feel oily, it may not be teak.
  • Weight: Teak wood is a dense hardwood that is heavier than many other types of wood. If the wood feels lightweight or too light for its size, it may not be teak.
  • Smell: Teak wood has a distinctive, slightly sweet smell that is often described as similar to leather or tobacco. If the wood has a different smell or no smell at all, it may not be teak.
  • Price: Real teak wood is typically more expensive than other types of wood, so if a product made from "teak" seems too cheap, it may not be the real thing.
  • Source: Real teak wood typically comes from countries in South and Southeast Asia, such as India, Indonesia, and Myanmar. If a product is marketed as teak but the source is unclear or from a different location, it may not be real teak. The best way to ensure that you are getting real teak wood is to purchase from a reputable seller who can provide information about the source and quality of the wood.

A teak outdoor dining table and bench getting basked in the sunlight. The Rio Teak Outdoor Dining Set. Picture credits: @alannapanday

How to clean teak furniture

To clean teak furniture, start by removing any cushions or other accessories and sweeping away any loose dirt or debris.

Then, mix a solution of warm water and mild soap or teak cleaner, and use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the furniture gently, following the grain of the wood. Rinse the furniture thoroughly with clean water and let it dry completely before using or applying any protective products.

You may also want to apply a teak sealer or oil to maintain the colour and prevent future staining or damages.

Recommended read: A Step-By-Step Guide To Cleaning Teak Outdoor Furniture

How to care for teak wood furniture

Wipe spills immediately

Wiping spills immediately is important for several reasons, especially when it comes to teak outdoor furniture.

Firstly, teak wood is porous and can absorb liquids quickly. If you spill something on your teak furniture and don't clean it up right away, the liquid can seep into the wood and leave a stain that's difficult to remove.

The moisture can also lead to the growth of mold and mildew, discolouration, and damage to the natural oils that protect the wood.

By wiping up spills right away, you can prevent these issues and keep your teak furniture looking beautiful and in good condition for years to come.

Use coasters and placemats

Coasters prevent water rings from forming on the wood, while placemats protect against scratches caused by plates, utensils, and other objects.

Using these items can also reduce cleaning time and add a decorative touch to your outdoor space, making it both functional and stylish.

Protect the furniture from direct sunlight

Leaving your teak wood furniture out in the sun for prolonged periods of time can cause it to fade and turn grey over time. To prevent this, consider using an outdoor umbrella or a furniture cover to shield it from the sun's rays.

A close up shot of a polyester outdoor furniture cover. Our furniture covers are made with polyester to ensure durability and resistance to tearing.

Allow the furniture to dry completely

After cleaning your teak furniture, it's important to allow it to dry completely before using it. Excess moisture can cause the wood to warp or crack, so make sure the furniture is completely dry before sitting on it or placing any cushions or furniture covers back on.

Teak wood is a highly prized and versatile material that is valued for its durability, natural beauty, and resistance to water, rot, and insects. Teak wood is an excellent choice that is sure to stand the test of time. With proper care and maintenance, teak wood can provide a lifetime of beauty and enjoyment.

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