Is Plantation Teak a Compatible Alternative to Old Growth Teak?
The future of the Teak market in question, it’s hard to know how to plan. With the ban on timber exports from Myanmar looming, plantation Teak is gaining more attention. Here at J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber, we’ve decided to continue to supply only authentic Burmese Teak for as long as we can legally import this highly acclaimed wood.
Even though plantation Teak is still Tectona grandis, its characteristics are different from old growth Teak due to the soil chemistry found in a different geographic area. The most significant result is a lower percentage of silica, a major factor in this species’ weather resistance. Inaddition, the soil chemistry and climate combine to affect both the color and straightness of grain.
The vertical grain and golden color aren’t the only aspects of Teak that make it popular for many in the marine industry, but they are significant. Much of what we’ve seen of plantation Teak has lacked the consistent coloring of old growth Teak. Pin knots also interrupt the grain flow, affecting far more than the appearance.
These knots trap water, compromising the weather-resistant qualities naturally occurring in Teak. Old growth Teak does not have such problems, because the naturally occurring forest canopy from older, taller trees eliminates the possibility of lower branches. In a plantation, however, the fast growth rate combines with the lack of forest canopy to allow for far more lower branches, which produce those problematic pin knots.
As long as possible, J. Gibson McIlvain will continue to supply our customers — especially those in the boat-building industry — with FEQ old growth Burmese Teak. All our Teak is sourced from environmentally and legally responsible mills. At the same time, we realize that the fluctuating Teak market and various trade sanctions are complicating the market by adding new players to the game.
If you decide to look elsewhere for your Teak, you’ll need to carefully evaluate your supplier. In particular, you’ll want to make sure you can get re-dried boards (for exterior applications) and can find the sizes you need. We’d also recommend making sure you buy from an importer of record, since you can be held responsible for any supply chain problems. You’ll also want to make sure you go with a company with a proven history of producing quality lumber.
The ongoing volatility and complexity of the Teak market makes us wish that plantation Teak had the same qualities as Burmese Teak, but it doesn’t. A better alternative would be Afromosia, also known as “African Teak.” Its silica content makes it rival the weather-resistant qualities of Burmese Teak, and its muted coloring makes it resemble oxidized Teak.
J. Gibson McIlvain can ship your Burmese Teak or Afromosia order straight to your job site, along with any of the additional hardwood, softwood, millwork, or plywood materials you need for your next job. Call us today toll free at (800) 638-9100. We ship Teak nationwide.