About Teak Furniture
When you think of the classic English garden there is one iconic piece of furniture that comes to mind. Amidst luscious flora, an aged grey bench sits resolute, prominent, and timeless. A stately silver patina speaks to years of comfort and unrequited personal narratives. From the works of famous landscape architects such as André Le Nôtre to the American suburban getaway, teak wood outdoor furniture is a cultural mainstay chosen for both its timeless and tasteful qualities. Enjoy this celebratory primer on the qualities of teak and why it remains a standard in home outdoor furnishings.
Teak Origins & Cultivation
Almost 200 years ago, Danish colonists in Indonesia and the surrounding area recognized the durability of teak and began a cultivation process. Today, 95% of our teak comes from Indonesia. The country considers teak a national resource and has strict replanting laws. Each log is bar coded and goes through a selection process ensuring sustainable practices. The best teak comes from Burma and Indonesia because the soil and the temperate climate create the same density in its growth rings each season. In other regions, the wood will have a hot season growth ring that is softer and a cool season growth ring that is denser. Teak, as all wood, is a natural material that is constantly moving through expansion and contraction. The timber from these regions will expand more when hit by the sun. This is commonly called warping. In the best regions, the finest teak is “slow growth” that is rated to last 30 years or more without breaking down.
Teak goes through a lengthy, slow drying process. Wood that has been dried too fast will crack. Each log is dried in a kiln of warm dry air for 30-90 days. Teak is one of the only materials that can be used untreated outdoors. A high oil and natural rubber content prevents rot and pest infestation. Kiln drying is a drying process that is crucial to achieving desired high quality finished teak for outdoor furniture by preventing warping in timber. Summer Classics dries its timber in a kiln for 4 to 8 weeks, reducing the moisture content from 50% to 12%.
Teak’s classic silver patina is a result of the effect that UV rays have on the wood’s pigment. This is a natural barrier against the sun and weather. Teak’s high oil content makes finishing it with paint difficult. Summer Classics offers a pre silvered “weathered” finish by wire brushing and sandblasting will allow it to accept an oil based silver stain.
Grade A teak is the heartwood portion of the tree that is the most dimensionally stable and desirable for outdoor furniture. The finest trees are quartersawn, which means cut into quarters and each quarter is sliced. The portion near the center is grade A, which will not cup as much. The planks near the bark or edge of the tree have a more rounded short-grain and will cup or bend.
Wood is a natural product that expands and contracts. Teak furniture must be designed to allow for this movement when outdoors. The finest teak furniture is constructed with mortise and tenon joinery. Wood to wood bonds like this have several advantages. All wood joinery expands and contracts at the same rate. When the weather changes from hot or cold, materials other than wood expand and contract at different rates causing the joints to loosen. Screws or nails will ultimately promote water retention and wood breakdown. Steel screws will deteriorate with rust and discolor the teak. So look for wooden dowels, or if hidden, ask about the construction. Pay attention to large curves in the design as a sign of premium teak. Unlike metal, which can be bent, curves must be carved out of a solid piece of wood. This is why curved features cost substantially more, but are a sign of quality design.
The way you care for your furniture will depend on the look you prefer. Untreated teak will develop a silvery-gray patina over time. If you like this look, clean your furniture annually with a mixture of mild liquid detergent and a small amount of bleach dissolved in warm water. To maintain the original teak color, apply sealer. Sealer must be reapplied regularly based on the furniture’s environment. We offer an excellent teak cleaner and sealer with amber stain for keeping a freshly milled look. Our teak shield adds a liquid resistant barrier to prevent stains.
Whether you choose a new wood look or a classic silver patina, quality teak furniture will last for many years and provide hours of enjoyment. A distinctive, natural and timeless material, teak speaks to us with authenticity and warmth. With minimal care, premium grade A, mortise and tenon constructed teak furniture is a sustainable choice for generations.