Teak ( Tectona grandis ) is the most valued and demanded wood species on Earth. Teak does not Crack easily, does not turns black when it come in contact with metals and has a decorative grain and color. There are many uses for teak but it best known for its use in the nautical world. For centuries, Teak has been the leading wood species in this industry.
Teak is one of the few woods in the world with a natural oil to repel water ultimately preventing rot, cracks or allowing it to turn brittle. Teak is resistant to decay and is a natural substance that repels termites and other insects. Another outstanding characteristic of teak is its durability in extreme climates, Teak is known for holding up very well even in harsh winter conditions and hot summer months.
These enduring properties has made teak the essential wood species for boat manufacturers around the world. There are many uses for teak and very few substitutes. Teak was used to build freighters, cruise ships, luxury yachts, refined boats, dinghies and also great fishing boats. TITANIC’S floors were covered in teak; the wood is as good today as it was on the tragic April 15, 1912 when it sank. Thanks to the natural oil that teak produces which allows it to maintain a low coefficient of expansion and contraction when subjected to excessive heat or moisture.
Teak is a very precious resource. Burma, Thailand, Laos and India are the only four countries in the world with natural teak forests. The forests in Thailand are only a fraction of the size that they once were, which is why since 1982 teak logging has been banned in Thailand. Forests are carefully monitored by their importance in the ecosystem and economy of the nation. Teak is one of the most endangered wood species in the world. Elephants are still used to extract teak because of its low impact on the environment, compared to heavy machinery. Burma (renamed Myanmar) exports 80 % of world teak consumed today. Teak is indigenous to the rainforests. In their natural environment there are only 8 to 10 teak trees per acre. But in Burma teak forests were established in 1856 with a view of the need of this precious tree, to maintain a renewable supply. Tradition says that only the trees that have a 20 inch diameter at the base can be cut and instead in its place a new tree be replanted. Unlike typical logging where trees are cut at the base then transported to a sawmill where they are then processed, teak trees are squeezed at the base then about two or three years pass before they are cut. Thus, as the trees are dried, the timber holds her resin, natural oils, ensuring the longevity and low maintenance. Burma teak seeds were used to initiate plantations in Africa and Central America. And still to this day, the quality and texture is unsurpassed or even comparable to Burma teak. Climatic variations, topography, soil type, elevation, amount of rainfall throughout the seasons, the correct handling and lack of professionals make a big difference in the quality, toughness, texture and color compared to Burma teak.
As a result of the high price of teak many have tried to find a substitute in other woods such as mahogany, cherry or Ipe. While these are very noble woods, there are applications where teak is still irreplaceable. Many have searched for a substitute for teak and have returned to it to prevent the high risk of complaints from customers and also for its beauty and quality. As long as ships are still sailing the waters of rivers and oceans teak will remain a key element for boat builders world wide. Teak is undoubtedly a gift from nature for the marine industry .