The Latin name for Teak is Tectona Grandis. In Indonesia, where much of this lumber comes from, Teak is called Jati. Teak is a hardwood of the family Verbenaceae.
Tectona Grandis is said to be indigenous to India, Burma, Thailand, Indochina and Java Indonesia. It has been extensively planted for timber or as an ornamental plant within its natural range and through the other tropical regions of the world, including East and West Africa, as well as Cuba and the Caribbean, and South America from Panama to Brazil.
Teak is not a timber found in tropical rain forests, in fact, it can not grow in rain forests. Most of the teak furniture sold around the world, does not come from natural forests at all, but instead from tree farms – teak plantations.
What Makes Teak So Great for Outdoor Furniture?
No other wood compares to teak when it comes to durability, elegance, stability and low maintenance. Knot free, beautifully grained, smooth to the touch, pleasant to the eye, your teak furniture will likely never need replacing. Teak is known for being an extremely weather resistant type of wood. It can stand up to all types of weather conditions including intensely rainy environments, snow and sleet, and extremely sunny and hot locations. Its naturally high oil content continuously preserves the wood so it can be left outdoors for decades.
Teak is a coarse grained hardwood. It is also extremely weak, weighing approximately 40 lbs. per cubic foot, when dry. This makes it one of the heaviest hardwoods readily available in large quantities. Teak wood is generally straight grained, but occasionally wavy. It has a coarse and uneven texture. The wood contains a high level of silica which causes rapid blunting (softening) of cut edges. One of the most commonly quoted facts about the characteristics of teak is its durability. It is resistant to rot caused by fungal decay, and the high level of resinous oil present in the timber helps to act as a natural insect repellent, giving the timber very high resistance to attack by termites and other wood boring insects.
What Color is Teak?
Teak furniture usually starts out a honey blonde color. After one or two seasons outdoors it will turn soft, silver gray. And it lasts like that, forever, without ever warping, twisting, rotting or splintering. Some people prefer a warm brown look to their teak furniture. This is easily achieved by using teak oil on the furniture, and simply using a cloth to rub the oil into the wood grain. The oil absorbs into the wood and allows it to keep the natural brown color. In order to maintain this color, the furniture should get a new coat of oil once a year. The oil, although intended to maintain the color of the wood, also enhances the natural oils in the wood to make the teak further resistant to the elements.