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The resurgence of teak

Lloyd Wilson explains the benefits of teak.

AFTER the devastation of forests in the 1950s and 60s, teak is making a massive resurgence across Southeast Asia and is once again becoming readily available and a viable option for your flooring needs. The Tectona Teak is being grown in vast plantations. It’s a fast-growing species that can be harvested after five years, but mature trees at 25 years old are ideal. It’s not prone to significant expansion or contractions once laid and is highly suited to any type of climate from heat and humidity to damp long cold rainy days. Felled correctly the trees will immediately begin growing again making for an endless source of investment.

The grain of this wood is primarily straight which means the wood fibres run parallel to each other along the length of the board or block. This gives the floor a clean and uniform appearance. The grain can be occasionally wavy and interlocked, which occurs when the wood fibres twist and curve as they grow. Plantation teak is often free of knots owing to growing conditions, but knots can be found in cheaper grades of the wood. Raw unfinished teak has a slick feel owing to the natural oils. These oils help to protect the wood from moisture, rot and insects. The presence of these also affects the appearance of the wood grain giving it a slightly glossy or lustrous sheen. The patterns of the teak certainly always give the wood a luxurious appearance. Teak flooring is suitable for various design styles from traditional to contemporary. It’s perfect to be installed to suit your individual preferences.

Boards are harder to come by in the UK with most of the available teak being in parquet blocks.

Milling the wood is a long process. Debarking the logs and then sawing them into rough boards of various dimensions and special care must be taken during the milling process to prevent the wood from splitting or cracking. The rough-cut boards are then stacked and left to air dry. This process can take several months to a year, depending on the thickness of the boards and the local climate. Proper drying is crucial to prevent warping and ensure the wood reaches the desired moisture content for use in flooring or woodworking. Once the boards are sufficiently dry, they can be planed, sanded, and finished to the desired smoothness and appearance. Teak is prized for its natural beauty and durability, so many woodworkers choose to leave it unfinished or simply apply a clear sealant to enhance its natural colour.

Teak is famous for its resistance to weathering. It can be used in all areas of the house, even areas with extremely heavy traffic making it a viable option in commercial or residential properties. It’s immune to warping and rotting making it a great choice for flooring indoors or exterior decking. It can last for decades even if it has been left untreated. Special stains and oils can be used on the wood, but don’t go too dark, you wouldn’t want to hide the natural beauty of the texture and grain.

The wood is incredibly hard coming in with a Janka rating of 1000-1155 making it harder than whistle pine, chestnut, cedar and mahogany.

From a cost perspective teak still isn’t cheap, in fact compared to other wood options it’s expensive, but as it remains beautiful and strong for decades, it can be viewed as a one-off purchase that can last a lifetime. Plantation teak can offer more predictable pricing and a consistent supply compared to wood sourced from natural forests, which can be subject to fluctuations in availability and price owing to factors such as weather conditions, government regulations, and market demand. Compared to harvesting teak from natural forests, plantation teak cultivation can have a lower overall environmental impact. Managed plantations can help conserve biodiversity, reduce habitat destruction, and mitigate soil erosion and other concerns associated with deforestation. Overall, plantation teak offers a sustainable and reliable source of high-quality wood with environmental, social, and economic benefits compared to harvesting from natural forests. Plantation teak projects can provide employment opportunities and economic benefits to local communities. Additionally, some plantation initiatives include social responsibility programs aimed at supporting education, healthcare, and other community development initiatives.
01273 426570
Lloyd Wilson is marketing executive at Lionvest

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