As in vogue as green building is, sometimes our plastic world has us thinking pretty unrealistically about organic building materials. Wood doesn’t come out of a mold; it’s a natural resource that moves and changes with time.
Those who love wood see these changes as part of their beauty and can recognize the look of freshly planed lumber, as opposed to the darker, more mellow appearance of aged, oxidized lumber. Such changes sometimes occur quickly, but other times these changes may take months or even years.
While most species’ color changes are fairly subtle, Teak is among the rare species that undergo a dramatic color transformation.
Often used for exterior trim work or boat decking, Teak is celebrated for its consistent golden brown hue. Even when Teak is properly kiln dried and seasoned, though, freshly milled surfaces are subjected to light and oxygen. Such exposure creates a blotchy, streaky coloring that can include shades ranging from black to green or even blue.
Understandably, customers often become confused and disappointed when they see such irregular coloring. They may even think you mixed up their order and used something like Zebrawood!
It’s important to be proactive and inform your customer before their deck is even installed that the streaks are expected but will fade over the next few months. While such patience may fly in the face of our modern society’s instant gratification mindset, it is exciting to see that beautiful golden brown consistency overtake the irregular coloring.
If you’re not sure your customer will share your enthusiasm, though, you can let the boards bake in the sun a while before installation, giving yourself the opportunity to witness the transformation — and avoid your customer’s confused or angry gaze.
In the mean time, though, it’s natural to wonder if the discoloration is due to improper kiln drying or other factors. In fact, Teak has been tested by being put through several different kiln schedules; however, it always behaves the same way and takes the same amount of time for the discoloration to fade.
Temperature and the amount of time in the kiln apparently have no bearing on this strange phenomenon. The fading occurs simply due to exposure to light. (Oxidation does produce a general darkening of the wood, but the streaks remain until the wood is exposed to light.) Usually, an obvious change occurs within the first few weeks, but the complete transformation can take 2-3 months. The reason for this issue is likely tied to the high amounts of light-sensitive pigment in Teak.
At J. Gibson McIlvain, we’re interested in more than selling lumber. We want to inform our customers about the pros and cons of various species and help them select the ideal wood for each of their jobs. We pride ourselves on understanding wood and the lumber market well enough to truly help you.
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.
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