Once used almost exclusively by the boat building industry, Teak is an increasingly popular tropical hardwood species, suitable for many exterior and interior applications. Due to the constant fluctuations in the Burmese Teak market, any Teak importer would be foolish not to seriously consider importing Plantation Teak. (Even with the new Teak Importer License, the situation is far from simple.)
As one of the largest importers of FEQ Teak in the United States, J. Gibson McIlvain has researched Plantation Teak and, after careful consideration, has decided to continue supplying only authentic Burmese Teak. Plantation Teak is an excellent up-and-coming resource; however, it has notable weaknesses which make it a poor candidate for our primary Teak buyers.
Even though Teak is being used increasingly as a tropical decking species and for other applications (windows, doors, trim, etc.), the needs of yacht builders and the marine industry are still at the forefront of our minds, in considering plantation Teak. Due to the nature of plantation growth, the growing situation is quite different from that of old growth forests. For one thing, the trees tend to grow more quickly. For another, the forest canopy is sparse. The plantation environment is all about giving the young trees plenty of sunshine and water to help expedite growth.
Those two characteristics of Plantation Teak lead to a higher percentage of lower branches, which translate into pin knots that not only disrupt the grain flow (a big part of what’s prized about the appearance of Teak) but also create a trap for water, reducing the wood’s weather resistance.
Another issue relating to the weather resistance of Plantation Teak is a result of the location of the plantations. Even though the trees are still genuine Teak, the soil chemistry of the plantations leads to lower percentages of silica. Since it’s the high silica content of Burmese Teak that helps make it so ideal for marine applications, this aspect of Plantation Teak makes it far less valuable than the Burmese variety.
Appreciated for its golden color and straight vertical grain, Teak loses its value when those qualities are less striking. Partly due to the nature of plantation forests, Plantation Teak has a higher occurrence of lower branches, resulting in pin knots that disrupt the otherwise straight grain. In addition, the different soil chemistry produces a board with less color consistency and straightness of grain.
In order to continue to provide our customers with the highest quality FEQ Teak possible — with consistent color, straight grain, and optimal weather resistance — we have decided to continue to source our Teak only from forests in Burma. We’re excited about the increased sustainability and forestry management there and look forward to being part of the solution, as a result of the new Teak Importer License.
Even though Plantation Teak would mean fewer headaches at first, we prioritize our customers’ needs and look out for their best interests, when we make difficult decisions like this one.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.