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Teak

Teca / Tectona grandis

Local Names
Kyun, Teck, Sagwan, May Sak
Distribution & Tree
Native to India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia, teak’s extensively cultivated in plantations within its natural range as well as in tropical areas of Africa and Latin America. Due to over-exploitation, teak harvest has become increasingly restricted in Myanmar, which, until recent years, has been the largest exporter of natural-forest teak. Plantation teak is replacing a portion of the lost supply with significant producers including Indonesia and Malaysia. Several large plantations have been established in Guatemala where clonal advances have improved growth rates and tree uniformity. On favorable sites, trees can reach heights of 40-45 m with clear boles to 25 m. Trunks can reach 120 cm, developing flutes and buttresses with age.
Wood Appearance
Teak’s heartwood is dark golden yellow, turning a dark brown with exposure, often very variable in color when freshly machined with blotches and streaks. Its sapwood is pale yellowish and sharply demarcated. The wood’s grain is straight, sometimes wavy and its texture coarse. Teak’s silica content is variable, ranging up to 1.4%. All teak produced in Latin America is of plantation origin and therefore younger and smaller diameter than logs sourced from natural forests. As a consequence, sapwood content in American teak may be higher and strength slightly lower, depending on age and genetics.
Processing Properties
Teak is easily worked with both hand and machine tools and takes a very smooth finish. Machining is good, though tungsten-carbide implements are indicated. It glues moderately well despite its oily nature. It takes screws and nails well but pre-boring is recommended. Due to its silica content, blunting of cutters can be elevated.
Strength & Durability
Teak’s high oil content makes the wood an outstanding exterior wood. Teak’s heartwood is very durable with respect to decay fungi and termites; it’s somewhat susceptible to marine borers. It has very good dimensional stability, holding its shape well and making it attractive for boatbuilding and other uses demanding tight tolerances.
Wood Uses
Teak’s used for shipbuilding, joinery, furniture (including lawn pieces), windows, doors, cladding, flooring, carving, cabinetwork, paneling, turnery, tanks, and fixtures requiring high resistance to acidity environments.
Ecological & Social Importance
Teak is among the first tropical hardwoods to be selected and propagated. It was thought to have first been planted in the Indonesian archipelago on the islands of Madura and Sulawesi about 300 to 400 years ago and is now considered to be a naturalized species in Indonesia. In Burma, a smallholder system known as taungya was adopted as early as the 1850s based on the inter-planting of teak and food crops. Intensive teak plantations gradually expanded across the tropics when the species was introduced to Africa (Nigeria) in 1902 and the Americas (Trinidad) in 1913. By 2000, an estimated 5.7 million hectares of teak had been planted worldwide.
Reference Species
Technical CharacteristicsTeakRed OakBlack Maple
Densitykg/m3624700640
Janka Hardnesskgf500553535
Bending Stiffness (Modulus of Elasticity)GPa13.712.111.2
Bending Strength (Modulus of Rupture)MPa97.199.291.7
Crushing StrengthMPa54.846.846.1
Shrinkage, Radial%2.6%4.0%4.8%
Shrinkage, Tangential%5.3%8.6%9.3%
Shrinkage, Volumetric%7.2%13.7%14.0%
T/R Ratio2.02.21.9
Values determined at 12% humidity

DENSITY

JANKA HARDNESS

BENDING STIFFNESS

BENDING STRENGTH

CRUSHING STRENGTH

SHRINKAGE

Values are for reference only and cannot be guaranteed. Wood is a natural material and physical and mechanical properties may vary depending on age, genetics, and other factors. We encourage customers to consult the references provided in the bibliography. For further explanations of wood’s key technical characteristics, an excellent resource is the Wood Database with articles on Density (average dried weight); Janka hardness; Elastic Modulus; Rupture Modulus; Crushing Strength; Radial, Tangential and Volumetric Shrinkage.

ReferencesView Source
Ladrach, W. “MANAGEMENT OF TEAK PLANTATIONS FOR SOLID WOOD PRODUCTS.” Zobel Forestry Associates. ISTF News. Dec 2009.
Silva Guzmán, José Antonio. 2008. Fichas técnicas sobre características y usos de maderas comercializadas en México. Tomo II. Comisión Nacional Forestal (CONAFOR). Guadalajara,
Jalisco. México 8.
Teak. Data Sheets. “The main technological characteristics of 245 tropical wood species.” Tropix 7. CIRAD.
Teak. Wood Technology Transfer Fact Sheets. Forest Products Laboratory. USDA Forest Service.
Teca. "Especies de madera, por nombre comercial, recogidas en la Guía." Directorio de la Madera 2016. AEIM.
Teca. Laboratorio de Productos Forestales. Universidad Nacional de Colombia. 2018.
Teca. Vignote Peña "Principales Maderas Tropicales Utilizadas en España." Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Tectona grandis. Vozzo JA. (ed) "Manual de Semillas de Arboles Tropicales." 2010.