Teak, also known as Tectona Grandis, is a tall, straight deciduous tree that grows with buttressing stems and a large crown. Teak is native to South East Asia and its natural distribution goes from the Indian subcontinent through Myanmar and Thailand to Laos. We do not know if the teak stands in Indonesia are native or the result of early cultivation by the Hindu settlers, quite possibly as early as the 7th century.
Since the Middle Ages it has been used in ship building. Its durability and natural oils made it a perfect choice for the construction of ocean going vessels. Teak oil also creates a resistance to splitting and cracking and wards off termites and other insects.
It is also easy to work with, and it is resistant to decay. The main advantage of teak for the building of ships is its unique ability to prevent rust and corrosion when in contact with metal. These qualities make it a valuable resource. Even today, teak wood is used in the construction of ships and expensive yachts and boats.
When the ships were no longer sea worthy the ships decking was in such good condition that the teak wood was recycled and made into outdoor furniture. It is possible that the first outdoor teak benches were made of old ship decks. Teak wood is so durable and strong that there are century old teak park benches in England still in use today.
The harvesting of teak wood is not an easy process. The logs are so heavy they will not float. Therefore, transporting the wood is not a particularly easy thing to do. In fact, elephants pull the logs through the jungle regions, just as they did a century ago. The elephants must pull the logs a long way through the jungles to the waterways. The trained elephants stack the logs in piles.
Teak wood was admired for its beauty back in the 1800s in India. It was able to capture the romantic nature of the Victorian era making it a perfect complement to an English garden. The durable and versatile nature of teak wood make it well sought after throughout the world.
Teak is grown today throughout Central America, parts of South America and Asia. Teak wood today is used for indoor wood flooring and other general construction. Teak is popular for durable and beautiful outdoor patio furniture. Its high oil content makes it ideal for outdoor furniture. Teak wood patio furniture is favored among high-end ski resorts. For construction projects requiring durability and elegance, teak wood is the wood of choice.