In addition to the warmth and environmentally friendly benefits of real wood, one reason we love it is that each board is truly one of a kind. Most lumber from a particular species will share some characteristics, and some species are more unusual than others; Teak is definitely unique in many ways, including its unusually limited growth range. Due to the combination between Teak’s limited availability and the market’s growing demand for it, Teak pricing is quite high, while Teak sizes continue to shrink.
Teak’s Pricing Dilemma
Why has Teak pricing continually been on the rise? Two major factors have contributed to this trend. The first factor is sheer distance between the only old growth Teak forests, which are located in Burma, and the U.S. The second factor is economic sanctions that prevent lumber suppliers from purchasing Teak directly from source mills. These pricing issues don’t affect just premium sizes of Teak, either: You can expect to pay a premium for even defective, short, or unstable Teak that would — if it were any other species — likely never make it past the mill.
Teak’s Size Limitations
If you’ve been around the lumber industry long enough, you know that with each lumber shipment comes a certain percentage of short and narrow boards, and usually you can purchase those boards at discounted prices, since they come as a byproduct of longer, thicker boards everyone wants. Short, narrow Teak lumber is different from most species in two ways.
The first difference is that with each Teak shipment, a supplier receives a much higher percentage of short and/or narrow boards than what’s typical of other species. The second difference is that a “short” Teak board describes only those under 6 feet in length, whereas typically that classification includes all boards under 8 feet. Those two differences combine for a fairly large quantity of boards under 8 feet in length per shipment from the lumber mill.
Teak’s Current Complications
While Teak pricing has risen and size limitations have continued, Teak’s uses have expanded past marine uses to include many home-building applications. Even though the strict requirements of the boat-building industry don’t apply to other industries, most builders who want Teak want straight, vertical grain FEQ Teak. As difficult as it is to source wide and long Teak, it’s even more difficult to find wide, long FEQ Teak.
For every order for above-grade Teak that we process, a significant amount of (expensive) Teak of lesser quality and size must be obtained. With the increased demand for Teak lumber, Teak trees get less time to mature, leading to smaller logs and an even lower percentage of FEQ Teak as well as long, wide boards that can be produced from those smaller logs. The result is, inevitably, greater limitations to the Teak lumber supply.
Don’t worry, though: contrary to difficulties plaguing the Teak market, J. Gibson McIlvain continues to retain a sizeable inventory of Teak wood. At the same time, we’re not sure how long our sources will hold out, so you’ll want to place your FEQ Teak order ASAP.