The stability of teak wood, as well as its attractive color and grain pattern, makes it valuable for many uses, including shipbuilding, joinery, furniture, flooring, carving, cabinetwork, paneling and turnery (Chudnoff, 1984). Natural teak wood from Asia has a medium-high specific gravity of 0.55 (Chudnoff, 1984). The wood is quite stable with very little shrinkage during drying. Teak wood contains oily resins called tectoquinones that naturally repel termites and resist rot (Steber, 1997). In spite of having an oily feel when fresh, the dry wood glues well.
There exists a common myth that faster growth invariably results in lower wood density. However, genetic studies with many tree species have shown limited to no correlation between the two traits. In the case of teak, studies conducted at the Forest Research Institute at Dehra Dun, India, did not find any significant relationship between growth rate and wood density (Sekar, 1972). In Nigeria, studies of 27-year-old teak plantations did not find any significant correlation between tree size and wood density (Sanwo, 1986).
In Costa Rica, the specific gravity of plantation teak trees was found to vary with age and also from the inside to the outside of the bole (Moya, 2001). Wood in the center and at the base of trees was found to have wood specific gravities of 0.40 to 0.45, whereas wood on the outside and higher in the trees had specific gravities of 0.55 to 0.60 (Moya, 2001). Wood density for 20-year-old teak in plantations in western Venezuela is reported to vary from 0.54 to 0.67 (Valero et al., 2005). In another study of teak in Venezuela, wood specific gravity at DBH for 10 to 20 year-old trees varied from 0.45 to 0.52, with the higher density readings towards the outside of the tree (Camcore, 2008). In Borneo, the specific gravity of wood from teak trees 6 and 7 years old varied little from pith to bark with values between 0.45 and 0.44 (Camcore, 2008).
Teak forms a distinctive golden brown heartwood, which turns darker with exposure, while the sapwood has a cream color. In old growth teak, the proportion of sapwood is quite small since trees grow slow, but the sapwood proportion of young plantation trees is significant. Market demand has traditionally been for teak heartwood with no sapwood. However, as smaller sawlogs from plantations become more common, sapwood inclusions will tend to become more important.
This information is provided by Bill Ladrich, President of Zobel Forestry Associates and used with his permission.
Slow-grown with ideal precipitation levels and soil conditions.
One of the most common refrains heard by Proteak employees is that our teak doesn’t look like “teak”. People tend to like the look but it’s unfamiliar. The fact is the teak we grow in Mexico is the same species that is indigenous to Southeast Asia, tectona grandis.
The fundamental difference in Proteak is harvesting – or thinning – young teak trees on our plantations to make room for other trees to grow to maturity. These younger trees have a greater proportion of lighter sapwood than mature teak trees and this fact accounts for the distinctive contrast with the darker heartwood. In terms of strength and durability young teak is essentially the same as mature teak. Rather than burning the thinnings or sending them off to Asia by the container-load, we’ve found a way to mill these smaller logs and turn them into the beautiful products you see here.
In light of the fact that sources of indigenous mature teak in places like Myanmar (Burma) and Indonesia have been largely depleted by both legal and illegal logging, future supplies of teak will come almost entirely from plantations. Given this reality, it is important to note that not all plantation teak is of the same quality. Some plantations receive too much rainfall or are artificially irrigated. Others don’t receive the proper nutrients from the soil and must be fertilized. At Proteak, we carefully choose the location of our plantations to match the precipitation levels and soil conditions found in the world’s most renowned teak growing regions. The result is slow grown teak with a dense grain that comes very close to matching the structural and aesthetic characteristics of old-growth teak.
Furthermore, Proteak’s geographic proximity to the United States is an added bonus and significantly reduces transportation costs and environmental pollution related to long-haul shipping.