Teak Buying Guide
Teak is a tropical hardwood, found extensively in the dry hilly forests of Indonesia, Thailand, Burma and Laos in South East Asia. Teak trees are slow growing, can grow up to 150 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter taking at least 50 years to reach full maturity.
Whilst there are 3 grades of Teak available, the discerning Teak furniture buyer should insist on the finest ‘Grade A’ solid Teak.
This should be knot free, have a dense close curved grain and be even in colour. Grade A Teak is cut from the heartwood or centre of the tree, usually 30-50 years old and has very few if any, imperfections.
Grade ‘B’ & ‘C’ Teak is usually cut from the sapwood or outer part of the tree and is less stable. It contains less natural oil and silica, has greater variance in colour and grain, and often contains knots and imperfections. Grade ‘B’ & ‘C’ Teak is used in more price sensitive and inferior quality outdoor furniture.
Solid Teak should be kiln dried to moisture content between 10-15% suitable for the UK market and as low as 6-8% for warmer Mediterranean climes. Correctly kiln dried timber eliminates any splitting or shrinkage especially around the joints. Occasional checking (cracking) on the end grain can be experienced, as the timber opens and closes its grain according to the season, this is quite normal.
Warranties and Return Polices
Teak furniture should require little or no maintenance. Choosing the right furniture for your needs is important and your teak furniture should be an investment that will last a lifetime.
Many internet retailers and sellers drop ship preferring to deliver direct from stock and never handle the furniture, so their product knowledge and customer service is limited. It is important to understand their return policy before committing to any purchase, you may find that many sellers do not offer a return policy or guarantee, so always check the small print.
Retailers offer a wide selection of choice, where you can inspect the quality for yourself and try out the furniture with expert advice on hand to answer any of your questions before reaching your decision.
Reputable suppliers normally offer a guarantee, the longer the better. Wherever possible, it is always better to see before you buy.
Choosing High Quality Teak Outdoor Furniture
Choose a reputable retailer or importer with good reviews and a long trading history in Teak furniture.
• Insist only on ‘Grade A’ solid Teak.
• If the price is “too good to be true” then it will not be A Grade Teak. Sustainable A Grade Teak is an expensive material as it will last a lifetime.
• Inferior B and C Grade Teak is commonly available throughout the UK and Europe, but will not last like A Grade Teak.
• If the joints are badly fitted or look hand made it is unlikely to have been made using Grade A Teak.
• Look for machine made joints (Mortice & Tenon style), they should be neat and close fitting which will provide long term stability.
• Beware of cheaper inferior alternatives, as these lack the durability and natural properties of teak and often vulnerable to rot and infestation.
• Some importers use Sulphuric acid to stain inferior timber passing it off as ‘Grade A’ to command a higher price.
• Choose designs with sturdy solid timber components and brass or stainless steel fittings where possible.
• Your teak furniture should be solid, many manufacturers will use thinner legs and table tops to reduce manufacturing costs.