When one lists the attributes of Teak, it almost seems too good to be true. Teak naturally resists rot, insects, and decay; doesn’t corrode when in contact with steel; has a beautiful, tight grain and weathers to a regal silver; is naturally non-skid; and is highly stable and easy to mill. It’s even been nicknamed “The King of Hardwoods.”
Burmese Teak is selectively harvested from well-managed forests in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), and these trees supply some of the most stable, durable lumber in the world. Decades ago, there was a time when many countries refused to source from Myanmar due to political and humanitarian issues. During that time, Teak plantations in other countries began to crop up, and as demand for Teak increased “plantation Teak” (Tectona grandis) was grown in areas as widely varying as Costa Rica, Indonesia, and Mexico.
Unfortunately, the soil chemistry in these non-native locations is different enough from Myanmar’s soil that plantation Teak is inferior. The high silica content in Myanmar’s soil contributes to the water- and weather-resistance of the wood, so the soil chemistry and climate variations in other parts of the world result in a much less consistent color and grain. The color of plantation Teak is less lustrous and is slightly lighter in tone. As an interesting side note, the high silica content of the soil in Myanmar also contributes to the species’ non-skid texture.
Aside from soil chemistry, plantation Teak differs in another major way. Burmese Teak is extremely stable and durable. Plantation Teak, on the other hand, is more rapidly grown and harvested. This fast growth and harvest rate results in a lesser quality and may affect the denisty of the wood. Boards from plantation Teak are more likely to crack and warp as a result of the fast growth. These plantation trees have a larger percentage of lower branches, which, despite pruning, causes pin knots which create greater defects and slope of grain issues resulting in less stability. Plantation Teak requires more maintenance to make up for these deficiencies.
Because responsible harvesting practices are so important to us at OHC, we vet all of our sourcing mills/partners to ensure that harvesting, processing, manufacturing, and shipping meets and exceeds local, state, federal, and international regulations. We’ve toured mills across Myanmar to find the right suppliers to produce well manufacrtured Burmese Teak with the best quality, grain, and size selction for