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Why Does Teak Wood Patio Furniture Have To Be Expensive?

Aug 17, 2007
Do you know just how durable teak wood really is and what makes it that way? Have you ever thought about where it is harvested from and how long it has to grow before it can be harvested?

Well, if you have pondered some of these questions you are in luck because you will find some answers here. If you haven't pondered these questions, or questions like it, then this will just be a fun learning experience for you. And hey, this article will make an excellent conversation starter at your next family get together or your next party. You will be the hit of the gathering!

In researching this article, I could only go back in time about 600 years. That was the time frame when the Chinese Ming Dynasty had a pretty powerful fleet of ships called "junk" ships. These ships were built out of teak wood. These were huge, powerful sailing ships that could carry thousands of men and cargo for extended periods of time. The Teak wood used was said to have been buried for several years before the Chinese deemed it usable to build into one of these ships. The Chinese knew that teak wood could withstand the sun while out on the ocean. They also knew that teak wood would not shrink when exposed to the wind, the heat, the rain or the salty ocean water itself. These are some of the main reasons why boat and shipbuilders today still prefer to use teak wood when building ocean vessels. Because teak wood experiences such little shrinkage, it makes an excellent choice for the ships doors and cabinets.

Teak wood contains a very large percentage of silica (sand) and natural oils. It is also a very dense wood. Because of these characteristics, teak wood is the preferred wood for decking either on ships or at the home. Believe it or not, the silica content in teak wood actually helps to attain sure footing when used in the flooring of a ship. The oil content assures its durability. To maintain it, it just needs to be cleaned off periodically. The benefits do not end there. Because of the oil content, the silica, and the density of the wood, teak wood does not react with any metals that may come in contact with it. These are the same characteristics that have caused people around the world, and companies that operate resorts and retreats to invest in outdoor patio furniture made of teak wood.

Back to the article at hand. The Ming dynasty needed to tough ships for several reasons, one very important being that it wanted the word of Zen spread to all lands to the edge of the earth. It is being reported that indeed, the Chinese did just that. It was 600 years ago that the Chinese circumnavigated the earth, and they did so in ships made of Teak wood.

Teak wood takes approximately 50 to 60 years to grow to maturity. One reason for the cost is just that. It is a commodity that is heavy demand, but with a limited, recurring supply.

In early history, Britain was very interested to grow and produce this wood. The British quickly realized they did not need to grow Teak Wood as they could annex those countries where the Teak wood was grown and have a plentiful supply: India, Thailand and Burma. I am not saying this is why the British took over Asia and India, but it certainly helped to give reason. Myanmar (formerly Burma), which is just south of India, and Yangoon became the first places where teak was being harvested for British ships. Calcutta was set up as another British shipbuilding site. All of the British merchant ships built in Calcutta were built with Myanmar teak logs which were said to be the best at that time. Once the wood was depleted from India, teak logs were harvested from Thailand and Burma. The British needed many ships to be able to go on to conquer and take control of British colonies and the naval fleet was their primary means.

Teak forests were quickly being depleted. Teak was now the preferred wood used for building ships as we have previously explored. The wood was also impervious to wood rot and insects, like the mighty woodworm, (side note: The famous Ocean liner "Queen Mary" used no less than 1000 tons of teak when built). The British quickly realized the depletion of teak wood that was taking place and developed a re-forestation plan. They appointed a leader to head this new bureau and began replanting teak trees on what are now called teak "plantations". A set of very strict laws were enacted regarding who can cut teak wood and who can purchase it. Once these laws were set in place, one needed to have permission from the British Government to be able to cut a teak tree down and or export it. Teak was also being used by the locals for furniture, posts for houses and paneling, (another side note: India is the third largest importer of teak wood today, behind China and Japan. As much as 80% of India's timber consumption is teak). Teak wood is used in India today for local consumption; building homes, furniture, fencing, etc. It is the one wood that can withstand the monsoons, the blistering heat and the humidity. It is the wood that all other timber species are compared to.

Due to the large demand for teak wood today, many countries that now have government controlled plantations are reviewing the possible rotation (cutting down the teak wood trees) after 30 or 40 years. The consensus with this rotation is that the wood will not be inferior at that rate. However, there are some countries that are trying tree rotation after only 25 years. This would help their particular economy by turning out teak wood more frequently. The result of this shorter rotation cycle is timber that is smaller in diameter, color, and grain.

Because most teak wood today is grown on plantations, and the demand is growing at an estimated 10% per year, teak is still heavily regulated and is sold through the auction process. It is not very easy to get. There are still the regulatory permits that must be purchased and other expenses that go along with regulation. For example, once purchased, it is usually the purchasing companies' responsibility to provide transportation if the teak wood is to be exported, and certain countries have regulations on how many logs can be exported. Currently, Java, Indonesia is the largest exporter of teak. There are several companies located in Java that will process and fashion the teak wood into furniture or planks for flooring or siding, and then export the finished items to countries around the world.

For those who like to invest, there are several plantations that have been started and are taking on investors right now. Many countries depend on teak wood exports for their financial stability. One country for example that has two main exports: Rice and Teak, where rice was the number one money generator recently has experienced a turnaround and teak became their number one export deriving most of their money. Upon learning this, several other countries are developing strategies and seeking locations where they can begin their own teak plantations.

Remember, because of the characteristics of teak wood, teak wood patio furniture will last about 75 years. This needs to be taken into consideration when making your purchases. When regular maintenance is performed (which means to clean it periodically) the true annual cost for your outdoor patio furniture really only comes out to about $133.00 per year (based on a $1000 investment).

So, when you add it all up, you get a much better understanding of what the hype about Teak Wood is all about: the numerous qualities of Teak Wood: the supply and demand side of Teak Wood: and last but not least, the answer to the original question," Why does Teak wood patio furniture have to be expensive?"

When investing in your outdoor patio or garden, or decorating the veranda, and even for indoor decorating, teak wood outdoor patio furniture is simply the wisest choice you could make.
About the Author
Michael Ochoa operates Macs Teak Furniture website. This website specializes in sales of Quality Teak Outdoor Patio Furniture and provides free shipping anywhere in the United States.
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