Color change isn’t the only issue that can make Teak a little tricky to work with. Trade embargoes continue to make Teak availability a major issue, and finding the sizes you need and making sure your Teak has been properly dried are important considerations as well.
Barriers to Sourcing Quality Teak
As a long-time top importer of high-quality FEQ Teak, J. Gibson McIlvain has been following the tumultuous Teak market with all its ups and downs. When the trade embargo on Myanmar was lifted, buying Teak lumber underwent a transformation — but it wasn’t necessarily all good. As many new suppliers entered the Burmese Teak market, confusion was bound to take root. Many long-time Teak buyers know to ask about the origin of Teak before they buy it, knowing that Burmese Teak has always been superior to the Teak grown in other countries, such as India and Cote d’Ivoire.
However, that standard is simply no longer enough to allow a person to distinguish whether the Teak they purchase is of the caliber they require. If you’re a builder specializing in luxury yachts or homes, you want to exercise an increased degree of caution as you prepare to purchase Teak.
Size Issues Surrounding Teak
Teak also comes with the added challenge of being sold differently than most other lumber species: It’s not an S4S dimensional product, but it’s not exactly rough-sawn lumber, either. This unusual situation can make ordering the sizes you need a bit difficult. When you purchase Teak, it’s in a rough-sawn condition; however, it’s sold in sizes that are fairly close to the finished product; as such, it’s available in a variety of lengths, widths, and thicknesses, and it’s priced similarly to dimensional softwoods. At the same time, though, Teak is sold in somewhat “ish” sizes, typically in bundles that include random widths and lengths.
In order to ensure that you secure the sizes that you need without purchasing more overage than necessary, you need to be extremely vigilant. When you discuss your needs with your Teak dealer, be certain to provide specific requirements of your project; and if you get vastly different price quotes from two dealers, having supplied both with the same degree of specificity, you need to ask more questions before making a decision.
Importance of Properly Dried Teak
Typically, exotic hardwood lumber species are kiln-dried to European standards, which are wetter than North American standards due to differences in climate. For most exterior uses — such as siding, decks, and docks — Teak that’s been kiln-dried to these 12-15% moisture levels will work out fine. However, for interior use or precise building purposes — such as yachts — you will need to make sure to purchase Teak that’s been re-dried to lower moisture levels – between 6-8%. Having your Teak re-dried to these North American standards will keep you from the headache (and waste) of movement issues during your build, and for some projects it is simply a non-negotiable. Be aware, though, that re-drying comes with added time, cost, and waste.