Gado Gado International

All About Teak

Posted in Informational by gadogadointl on March 27, 2009

by David Sussman

Teak is the common name for a tall timber tree of the verbena family. The tree, which attains a height of more than 30 m (about 100 ft), is native to India and Malay Archipelago, and is cultivated in Java and the Philippine Islands. Another variety of teak has also been cultivated in East and West Africa, Cuba and the Caribbean, and northern South America. Because of its durability and strength, teak wood is used throughout the world as lumber in shipbuilding. In the tropics, the wood is used primarily for the construction of furniture; teak furniture has been known to resist the attacks of insects and the corrosive effects of weather for hundreds of years.

Teak does not grow in tropical rain forests. It is a deciduous tree that grows particularly well in the dryer, hilly terrain typical of plantation forests in Southeast Asia. Java has very large teak plantations, which were first planted by the Dutch in the early 1800s and are now regulated by the Indonesian government. This means that any old or new teak furniture and architectural elements from Indonesia are made from plantation grown trees. So when you buy from Gado Gado you are not contributing to the destruction of the remaining old growth teak forests in other Asian countries.

Flowering Teak Trees

Flowering Teak Trees

Teak grows quite fast, and the trees are cut after 50 – 60 years when they attain a height of up to 150 feet and have a diameter of 3-5 feet. If well maintained, a tree can produce a clear stem up to 100 feet long, giving a high timber yield.

Characteristics of teakwood

Teak is a very dense coarse-grained hardwood. It is generally straight grained with few knots, but some trees have a wavy grain. The wood has a coarse and uneven texture. The wood contains a high level of silica, which causes rapid blunting of saws and other cutting edges. When freshly cut, the surface of the wood has a dull appearance, and the timber has a distinctive, pleasant aroma. Fresh-sawn teak has a slightly oily feel due to the high oil content.

Teak is a very durable wood. 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.

Plantation teak planks ready for use

Plantation teak planks ready for use

Teak is generally resistant to water and many chemical reagents, including acids. It does not have a strong reaction when it comes in contact with metals. For these reasons it is frequently used for boat decks, and in the past for aircraft carrier decks and work surfaces in chemical labs.

to be continued…


2 Responses

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  1. Brion Black said, on April 10, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Dear Barbara and David,

    I’m in a new house, just outside of Sabastopol, that has unfinished teak planks (bought in Bali) that need some type of finish to preserve the radiance of the wood grain. What should I use? Would teak oil be good? The contractor wants to use a water based urethane. What do you suggest for keeping it pretty and clean. What do you suggest for interior furnishings? The weathering outside looks great. But, there must be a way to preserve the interior wood. Do you sell whatever you suggest? Thanks for your help and happy Passover. Regards, Brion

  2. Elle's Patio Furniture said, on May 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Very informative article, quite complete.

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