Teak is one of the most beautiful woods in the world. Its warm, luscious honey-brown color and tight, dense grain are highly sought after by many of the best architects and designers in the industry. It is a versatile wood and can be found as paneling, flooring, siding, furniture and decking. For any application, interior or exterior, teak brings many amazing benefits.
But what is it about reclaimed teak that gives it such a universal appeal? In this article, I’ll break down exactly why teak is a popular choice and show you some of my favorite spaces that feature reclaimed teak.
Teak and The Industry-Wide Need for Reclaimed Wood
From TerraMai: Onward in Seattle uses Surfaced Long Plank Teak for its facade
Teak trees can take 80 to 120 years to grow and mature. Due to the decline in wild teak forests, teak is often classified as endangered or illegal to purchase. New, fast growing plantation teak cannot compare in either looks or durability. Using reclaimed teak helps preserve standing teak forests and gives these amazing woods another lifetime of use and appreciation. It’s an ideal option for architects and designers seeking a sustainable, durable wood. While all reclaimed wood has its own uniqueness, there’s a richness to teak that sets it apart. Teak also has a fascinating history. For over 2000 years, it was traditionally used for building boats because of its water resistance, flexibility, rot resistance and longevity. You can see why designers choose reclaimed teak for not only its sustainability and looks, but also for its strength and versatility.
In general, reclaimed wood has become a high demand building material. As an industry, architecture and design is conscious of climate change and environmental issues such as deforestation, waste and pollution. As companies around the world aim to be more sustainable, greener options are critical. Reclaimed wood is an easy and cost-effective method of enhancing sustainability, making it particularly attractive to builders. Using reclaimed wood doesn’t require any living trees to be cut, processing reclaimed wood uses fewer resources than processing new wood and an abundance of material is repurposed and kept out of the landfill. Teak is one material in which choosing to use reclaimed has a larger environmental moral impact. TerraMai’s reclaimed teak is salvaged from vintage buildings and other structures in Southeast Asia. Reclaimed wood is one ethical method to obtain old growth teak.
From TerraMai: Kohler Country Spa in Wisconsin showcases reclaimed teak as flooring, cladding, and countertops; a perfect spa fit from sauna to soaking tub rooms.
The Beauty of Reclaimed Teak
Reclaimed teak is a wood that draws the eye and warms and nurtures any space. Its natural oils give the wood a luster and richness that gets better over time. Reclaimed teak can retain its weathered or naturally distressed face or be surfaced. If the wood has been surfaced, over time the teak will homogenize such that any color variation from one board to another diminishes and the overall color will become an even rich, honey-brown.
From TerraMai: Reclaimed Teak Paneling at Amazon’s Seattle HQ
Retaining the naturally distressed or weathered face helps tell the wood’s story and adds character that only time and nature can create. No matter which aesthetic is pursued, teak is water-resistant, rot-resistant, skid-resistant, and stain-resistant.
From TerraMai: Naked Teak Flooring at Boston’s Ames Hotel
Reclaimed Teak’s Unparalleled Benefits
It may be impossible to say that any one variety of wood is the best for flooring and exterior applications, but if a wood were to earn that claim, it very well might be reclaimed teak. While the properties of teak are present across other woods, few woods carry all the benefits that teak does. There are several factors about teak that make it such an excellent choice.
From TerraMai: Reclaimed Teak Kukui Engineered Flooring at CBRE’s office
First, teak is extremely strong and durable. Much of the secret behind teak’s strength is in its oils. Its natural oils make the wood virtually waterproof and resistant to rot, fungi, and mildew. As mentioned earlier, teak is also resistant to skidding and staining. In general, teak resists most wear and corrosion, which is an ideal feature for flooring and exterior use as siding, benches and decking. If that’s not enough, teak is also great for environments that experience changes in moisture or humidity because of the low shrinkage ratio that helps it resist gapping and warping.
From TerraMai: Reclaimed Teak Decking at Imagination Playground in NYC
For exterior applications, teak will retain it’s honey-brown color if maintained. If the wood is not UV protected, over time it will become a soft, pale grey. Reclaimed teak is ideal for decking as it can withstand many different types of weather making it a good choice for a variety of climates, from blistering sun to cold, snowy and wet.
From TerraMai: Reclaimed Teak benches at NYC’s High Line at installation and 6 years later
Teak’s resiliency is due to its native environment. It’s characteristics are a response to the environment it must endure. The regions in which teak grows, South and Southeast Asia, experience a range of natural phenomena like monsoons, droughts, and high winds. Over time, teak trees have adapted to those conditions in interesting ways. For example, the fibers of the teak tree bend instead of break, making the tree more flexible and more likely to survive the vagaries of nature.
Teak also has a high silica content as a result of growing in high silica content soil. In addition to its oils, a high silica content contributes to teak’s many resistant properties. Interestingly, reclaimed old-growth teak has more silica than new plantation grown teak which grows in Africa and Central and South America where the soils are quite different.
From TerraMai: Reclaimed Teak Siding on the Kenmore Library in Kenmore, Washington
Teak bears an impressive list of benefits: beauty, strength, durability, and versatility. This versatility positions teak as a perfect bet for just about any application. Moreover, reclaimed teak’s many attributes allow designers a wood that will meet functional requirements and sustainability goals with an elevated aesthetic too. Whether you want a flooring that will last in high traffic commercial spaces, exterior benches that will withstand the elements, or a wood that will create a serene spa experience, reclaimed teak will deliver on all fronts. If you haven’t considered reclaimed teak for a project, please take a look at what it has to offer.