Should you wonder whether teak is an excellent wood to use when installing a countertop, don’t waste any more time thinking about it. Teak is a hardwood with a medium density which makes it durable and very strong. All the characteristics you require to be present in a countertop you will find in Burmese teak.
Burmese teak is waterproof due to it having a naturally high oil content and is fire, moisture and termite resistant. Teak is a durable hardwood, beautiful and strong, perfect to use as a countertop. Woodworkers find it easy to work with as a medium. Treating it is optional, and it can last for generations.
Do you know which wood is used in the building of yachts? If you guessed Burmese teak, then you would have been spot on. Teak is the go-to wood as it is super durable and waterproof. It is also widely considered as one of the most beautiful woods in the world with its rich, warm colors.
Why Is Teak Good For Counter Tops?
If you are in the process of deciding on what wood to use for a new countertop, and money is no problem, then you should seriously consider Burmese teak. Teak is a sought-after wood when it comes to indoor or outdoor furniture and designs. Woodworkers love working with teak, and this is quite understandable.
It is a beautiful wood and very pleasing to the eye, combining well with modern design elements, adding something to each room or design it is used in. This particular wood smacks of sophistication and gives off a warm style.
The dense and sturdy teak tree, scientifically known as Tectana Grandis, is a valuable and prevalent wood type found in Thailand and Burma. These trees grow to anywhere from 130-150 feet high and, ideally, need to grow for 50 years to deliver the wood that has made teak the “King of Hardwood.”
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Teak Wood?
All the wood types will have pros and cons to consider. Let us discuss the plusses and the minuses when you decide to use teak wood for your project.
Let us examine the pros first:
1) Durability And Strength
Teak has a typically straight grain (tight wood grain) and is a highly durable and strong wood type. Yacht builders love using teak to build their boat decks. Being exposed to the ocean’s water, together with the sun and wind, does nothing to this heavy-duty wood.
If you treat teak wood well, it can last for generation upon generation. Teak wood refuses to splinter, warp, bend or crack under pressure (even regular water exposure is not a problem).
One of its best features is its longevity, teak wood is made out of the tough stuff, and even when left untreated, it will last for generations.
If you decide on teak as a countertop, you will invest in a piece that can last for the rest of your life and then still be passed on to your children one day. It is that durable and robust even when you prefer not to treat it with sealants or waxes.
2) Carving And Woodworking
Teak wood is carving friendly due to its structure being of a medium-density (650 kg/ m3 is a very acceptable and easy to work with density average). Woods with a high-density construction is more likely to warp and deform.
Carpenters and woodworkers find it a joy to work with due to its smooth and straight grain. Teak wood refuses to chip or splinter, an added advantage of its durability, making delicate designs easy to carve out. The wood takes nails and screws well, ideal for crafting furniture. No difficulty or problems arise when sanding, machining or plaining the wood.
When you are using tools with blades on them, you will probably have to sharpen the tool blades more often than working with other woods, a small price to pay, seeing that you are fortunate to work with the precious teak wood.
Most woods will require you to treat them with sealants or water-resistant finishes; you do not have to concern yourself with these actions. Teak left untreated will not affect its longevity or durability. This does not imply that you can’t treat your teak wood. You definitely can use sheens and sealants on the wood; the choice is yours.
Even without a safeguarding coating, Teak garden furniture will not go to rack and ruin when exposed to snow, rain, and high temperatures. It will not dry out.
3) Resistant To Many Elements
Teak wood is the Superman of the wood world. Like our favorite and strongest superhero, teak wood also possesses some natural superpowers when it comes to protecting itself from certain not-so-friendly characters.
Having these weapons in its arsenal makes it one of the most desirable woods in the world. Let me highlight some of these for you:
- Teak has very high resistance or defense when it comes to fungi, bacteria, woodworms and termites.
Teak trees are protected by silicon and tannins that form part of their structure (Tannins found in the bark of teak trees).
Unlike other living organisms, trees can’t move around, so they had to develop a form of natural protection from the attack of specific pathogens like fungi, bacteria and other types of viruses. These protective elements are known as tannins.
Teak wood is thoroughly soaked with several wood oils (often referred to as oily lumber). These oils act as organic disinfectants. These disinfectant oils and their unique chemical anatomy prevent microbes and fungi from developing, essentially stopping woodworms from eating them.
These oils make teak wood highly immune to mold and rot associated with many other wood types. Termites are well aware that trying to attack a teak tree is not worth the effort. The oils act as a no-termites-welcome barrier, removing the risk of these insects destroying your new countertop.
- Teak is water-resistant (moisture resistant).
Even when faced with continuous water contact, teak wood drenched with oils at its pores will not allow moisture to penetrate or do any damage.
It will withstand any water or liquid spillage on it and is easy to clean as a countertop. Your teak wood countertop will not warp, bend or swell when constantly being exposed to water. You should not expect a soggy, moldy black circle around your water basin if you decided to use teak wood.
Teak has a very high oil content that makes it waterproof, and this protects it from possible water damage (humidity and rain) and the sun’s harmful UV rays.
- Teak is fire-resistant.
Should you ever have the bright idea to start a fire with your mother-in-law’s teak furniture, don’t bargain on being called a professional arsonist. While wood lacquer is known to burn quite quickly, teak wood does not (due to the oil content) and is very resistant to fire.
4) Brilliant Insulator
When it comes to moderating heat, teak wood is one of the frontrunners. What does this mean to you as a consumer? Simply put, teak wood will not be super-hot to the touch during summer days but will retain warmth during cold winter days.
This is one of the reasons that people choose it for outdoor furniture. When used as a countertop, it is pleasant to touch and work on, whether it’s a cold day or a scorcher.
5) Versatile Medium
If you ask any carpenter, woodworker or furniture manufacturer if they enjoy working with teak, the answer will always be a 100% yes!
Teak is a highly versatile medium. Many people worldwide have used it to do their flooring in their homes or boats, outdoor (patio’s) and indoor furniture (countertops, dining room furniture, bed frames and elegant chair designs).
You can decide to leave your teak wood purchase in its original state. If you prefer, you can stain, paint, wax, polish or varnish the wood as you please. Sticking to your style of treating your wood is not an obstacle when it comes to teak wood.
This versatile wood arrives with options to modify, and through different techniques, can achieve various looks.
You have probably heard the saying that goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? You don’t have to be a wood connoisseur to appreciate teak’s beauty. Wood generally comes from the following sections of a tree:
1) Heartwood – This is the dense inner part of the tree trunk and yields the hardest timber.
- Indonesian/Burmese teak’s heartwood is usually a dark golden yellow, honey color, or a rich brown with dark brown markings (dark to black grain). A golden shimmer is also a common attribute of teak wood.
2) Sapwood – This is the part between the bark and heartwood, known as the alburnum (its function is to transport minerals and water to the crown of the tree).
- Indonesian/Burmese teak’s sapwood color ranges from a grayish to white color and pale yellowish-brown color. When exposed to the elements, it can change to a warm golden-brown tinge.
When untreated and left to the elements, these woods tend to become dark brown, and when exposed to sunlight for long periods, it will take on a silver-gray color or undertones.
And now for the cons:
1) Teak Is Expensive
When you have to decide which wood to use for your new countertop, there are many kinds of wood to choose from; teak will surely come up for discussion due to all its wonderful attributes. You will find that other woods will cost considerably less when compared to the price of teak. Teak is a super wood, and you will pay more than for other different, inferior wood types.
The main reason for this scenario is that teak wood supply is less than the demand for it, hiking the prices up due to its scarcity and such a sought-after wood. This popular wood has been placed on the endangered species list (over-harvesting), and some governments have implemented restrictions regarding how much can be harvested and sold.
The situation will make it challenging to find good teak wood, and it will be pricey.
2) Imitation Teak
I am listing this matter under cons as this is precisely what some online companies are doing to their customers. Listing “teak” like products at incredible prices should set your alarm bells ringing. Some even push them at extremely high prices, selling the sapwood as the heartwood, or even worse, selling a different wood as teak:
- Nyatoh (exotic hardwood): This wood is one of the main culprits; it does not have the same hardness/durability as teak, takes a very long time to dry, often splits, and does not display high resistance to attacking insects.
- American Cherry
- American Walnut
- African Mohogany
- Japanese Oak
- White Pine
- “Rhodesian Teak”
- “Brazilian Teak”
If it sounds too good to be true, then keep your wallet closed, and all will be well. Some companies will claim to sell authentic teak products when it is, in fact, low-quality teak (harvested from a young tree) that has not grown to its full durable potential. It will not last you for generations, behave just like other inferior woods, and not be as water-resistant as what you would expect from your new teak countertop.
How to Maintain And Treat Your Teak Counter Top
If you are lucky enough to find a proper teak wood counter and have installed it in your home, you might be thinking about the maintenance required. As previously mentioned in the article, the choice to treat your teak wood is totally up to you. Not treating it will not affect its longevity or durability.
Here is a list of maintenance steps for you to use should you want to go the treatment route (This will also apply to a teak butcher’s block):
1) Apply Oil
Using a product like Star Brite Premium Teak Care Kit will take care of all your teak maintenance needs (cleaning, restoring and protection).
Treating your teak wood countertop with teak oil is recommended. Just apply ample amounts of teak oil to the counter, allow the oil to be absorbed and wipe it with a soft cloth.
This oil treatment will leave behind a more stain-resistant and durable line of defense. Remember to oil the surface at least once every two years. This coating will protect your wood and make it even more long-lasting.
2) Wipe Stains Away As They Happen
One preventative measure to maintain your teak wood is to wipe up any spills as they happen. Wipe up any spills as they happen, especially vinegar, wine and other acidic liquids, before they try and seep into your wood’s porous cells. Prevention is better than cure.
3) Scrub Or Sand Spills And Scratches Away
In the event of your teak wood being scratched or stained, try to use natural stain removers (half a lemon mixed with a dash of salt) first. If you get no joy from the natural stain remover, then head off to the local hardware store and buy some high-grade sandpaper.
You will be delighted to see how quickly stains and scratch marks disappear after a light sanding. Remember to re-oil the affected area after cleaning.
By now, your mind should be made up, teak countertop for the win! There is just so much to like and appreciate when it comes down to what a teak countertop brings to the party.
Teak is a super durable, beautiful and naturally hazard-resistant wood. It may be a little bit pricey due to supply being a bit low at the moment. If your budget allows it and you find authentic teak, then it is suggested that you make the purchase.
Think about it in this way; you will never need to buy another countertop in your life. Taking care and maintaining the wood is optional (although suggested if you are using it as a kitchen countertop), yet very easy to do.
Beware of cheap knockoffs and do your homework before buying, and you should have a piece of wood that will last for generations to come. A beautiful piece of wood!