During the last few years, there has been a lot of information about the different grades of teak and why people should/should not consider purchasing one or the other. All wood is graded by rating several factors – hardness, color and grain are among them. In truth, the quality of genuine teak is such that even wood with a lower grade is better than A wood of another type. Grade A teak is that which is harvested from the oldest growth of the tree, the innermost heartwood. This wood is the hardest, has the straightest grain and the purest color of teak.
Grade A teak is very rare because of the relatively small amount of heartwood which is present in any tree as well as the fact that to develop the best heartwood, the teak tree needs to grow to maturity – which can take up to 100 years. Most teak imported to the United States is harvested from government controlled sustainable teak plantations in Indonesia and Thailand. Most teak trees in these plantations grow to about 20 years of age before harvest, making the true heartwood harvested from the trees scarce. In fact, true grade A teak is so rare that there are reports of some dealers “dipping” their teak into an unknown substance, making lower quality teak appear to be grade A.
Most teak on the market today is grade B or C. B grade teak may have some slight color differences and a slightly curved grain. It is very hard (all teak is hard) and durable. Grade C teak has more variation in the grain because it is harvested with a mixture of heartwood and sap wood. The color variations of grade C teak vary from lighter shades to darker and richer shades of golden brown.
The biggest indicator that your wood may be dipped is that it has a very uniform color and may feel oily. For those wanting the color of grade A teak and not wanting to pay grade A prices for their teak furniture, this may be an option. However, truthfully, for those planning on letting their teak weather naturally, in a year’s time or so, your teak benches, chairs or tables will all weather to the lovely silverfish gray – grade A or grade C.
Getting teak is getting the best quality wood available that will last a lifetime and can be passed from generation to generation.