Dealing with streaking found in freshly milled Teak lumber.
As an organic material, all wood moves and changes with time and exposure to the elements. Even the untrained eye easily recognizes the differences in appearance between freshly planed boards and aged lumber. Typically, the color of wood mellows over time, and exposure to sunlight causes it to darken. Depending on species and condition, such changes may occur quickly or over many years. One species that changes more extremely than most others is Teak.
Appreciated for its consistent appearance and golden brown hue, Teak is often used for boat decks or other exterior applications in which a consistent appearance is vital. Even properly seasoned, kiln-dried Teak can exhibit blotching and streaking in a rainbow of colors — including blue, brown, green, and yellow — when freshly milled surfaces are exposed to light and oxygen. Sometimes streaking is so pronounced that the wood looks similar to Zebrawood. For customers who choose Teak due to its famous golden brown color, such changes can be confusing and disappointing.
Just a few months will allow streaks to fade and the famous mellow color to emerge. In the mean time, a little education may help the situation. While some contest that streaking is due to uneven or improper drying techniques, testing shows that time and temperature are not the variables that affect discoloration or fading. Instead, exposure to light is what produces fading. Oxidation alone will cause darkening, but it will not eliminate streaks. While noticeable changes in the appearance of freshly milled Teak may occur in just a few weeks, full fading will take up to 3 months. The root cause appears to be a light-sensitive pigment, a tectoquinone derivative, present in Teak and similar species, such as Iroko and Afromosia.
Instead of trying to explain this process to discontented customers, boat builders and home builders alike could avoid uncomfortable situations by letting freshly planed boards sit out in the sun for a while prior to installation. Some mills across the globe already sun their Teak boards after milling, for just this reason; however, many lack the space, and lead time is hard to come by with the current market demand. However, this sunning process could help your new installs take on the appearance your customers covet, while earning you the kudos you no doubt deserve.
As the Teak market continues to fluctuate, builders need to understand the distinct characteristics of this species, as well as differences between plantation-grown Teak and Burmese Teak. Low-quality selections cannot compare to the kind of FEQ Teak supplied by J. Gibson McIlvain, and you need a supplier you can trust. In light of legal concerns, we also carry Afromosia, a newly emerging alternative to Teak for those in the home-building industry.
Whether you’re looking for an alternative species to Teak or trying to determine lead times on Teak installation, our lumber experts are always willing to share their expertise with our many valued customers.