Teak wood is a massively popular choice for outdoor furniture because of its innate weather resistance. In fact, it surpasses almost all other hardwoods in terms of its strength and durability.
However, when choosing teak outdoor furniture, it’s worth knowing the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision. That’s what you’ll learn in this article along with some important details about teak wood.
What is Teak Wood?
Teak (Tectona grandis) is a species of tropical hardwood native to Southeast Asia. It’s been used for centuries for boat making, which should illustrate its resistance to water and weathering.
Teak outdoor furniture is popular because it requires very little maintenance and, despite being very strong, is surprisingly easy to work with.
Teak Wood Outdoor Furniture
Teak wood is solid and dense, making it a good choice for load-bearing and high-traffic outdoor purposes. As such, you’ll commonly see it used for:
- Dining tables
- Storage units
- Chairs (including sofas)
- Decorative elements
It’s commonly used for building, too, especially in boats and other elements that’ll sit in bad weather. Teak wood can be fashioned into interesting shapes and textures before treatment because it takes tools with little difficulty.
Pros and Cons of Teak Wood
There are certainly plenty of pros to teak wood, but there are a few cons it’s worth noting, too.
Teak wood is virtually maintenance-free. While you can treat it with stain, it’s not necessary because teak is naturally resistant to rot. It goes silver as it ages, which some people enjoy.
Teak wood is one of the most durable for outdoor furniture, leaving Western native species like oak and maple in the dust. It has a high oil content, making it resistant to heat, rain and sun exposure.
Although it’s a hardwood, teak is easy to work into different shapes. It means you have amazing versatility in the pieces you can buy, so you shouldn’t have difficulty finding furniture you like.
There’s no point in sugar-coating it: teak wood is very expensive. It grows slowly, meaning producers can charge a higher price than they would for fast-growing and readily-available hardwood species.
You should expect to pay a few thousand for a decent set of teak wood outdoor furniture. However, due to its durability, one set can last decades if cared for properly.
As mentioned, teak grows slowly. It also has a long harvesting time because it’s left to die on-site before being moved, as it’s easier this way.
While you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding real teak wood furniture, beware of imposter pieces. These include teak-finished plywood or MDF or something like acacia wood passed off as teak.
Teak Wood vs. Acacia Wood
On that note, one of teak’s main competitors for outdoor furniture is acacia. Both are similarly hardy, although teak is more resistant to heat and direct sunlight. If you’d like to know more about acacia wood, check out our guide on it.
There are a couple of factors you can use to tell the difference between teak and acacia.
All wood has a grain, which is the pattern of wood fibers that run down the plank. Teak wood always has a straight grain, whereas acacia is straight to wavy. A good faker will use straight grain acacia wood, but it’s a good way to tell the difference.
Also, teak wood has very few knots because of how tall it grows and how few branches it produces. Acacia is more prone to knots, so be on the look out for excessive knots down the grain.
Untreated teak wood has a very distinctive smell that’s a cross between resin and leather. It’s not easy to forget if you’ve ever smelt it before.
Acacia, however, only smells when it’s cut. While acacia furniture will still have a woody smell, it’s nothing compared to teak.
Teak wood is typically golden to dark brown when untreated. Acacia wood can be anywhere from light amber to mahogany. While this might sound easy to differentiate, the colors can overlap depending on the species of acacia.
If teak wood outdoor furniture is stained and you have suspicions about its authenticity, consider looking elsewhere.
Teak is much more expensive than acacia. But it’s arguably worth the price because it’s more durable. If you’re concerned that some teak wood outdoor furniture seems too cheap, it’s probably acacia.
Considerations When Buying Teak Wood Outdoor Furniture
Unlike acacia wood, there are fewer considerations when picking teak wood outdoor furniture. Bear in mind the following when shopping for teak furniture.
What’s your budget?
As mentioned, teak wood outdoor furniture will cost several thousand dollars. Don’t expect to pay less for something like a dining table and chairs because a lot of teak wood goes into it.
Make sure you do a cost analysis of teak furniture. While it’s very pricey, a decent set of furniture can last more than 75 years and be left outside year-round. When you compare this to the cost of 10 inferior sets of patio furniture, it’s arguably well worth the money.
Is it too heavy?
Teak is “moderately heavy” and has a density of 41lbs. per cubic foot. This makes it heavier than most Western hardwoods, although something like acacia can be heavier depending on the species.
Why does this matter? Well, if you plan to put teak furniture on a balcony, you should check the weight allowance first. Unlike other types of outdoor furniture, though, you won’t have to store it indoors over winter, meaning you’ll only need to move it once or twice a year.
Final Thoughts on Teak Wood
There’s no denying that teak wood outdoor furniture can be a great investment. If you use your balcony or porch regularly, it’s well worth the money.
Of course, the color (and price) might not be for everyone. If not, there are plenty of alternative hardwoods with decent durability, although teak is almost unmatched in this area.