When you think of teak, what’s the first thing that pops into your head? A wave-splashed boat deck, a sun-dappled, poolside terrace, a tasteful dining set or exquisite, unique coffee table that is more conversation piece than a place to rest your cup? Teak, or Tectona grandis by its scientific name, is a tropical hardwood native to Myanmar (Burma), famous for its incredible durability and resistance to rot, fungi, mildew, and pests. But we at Mys-Teak know it as a symbol of quality, craftsmanship, and forestry stewardship. Misconceptions abound surrounding the growth, sourcing, and processing of teak. Let’s address a few of the most pervasive myths and plant some truth seeds of our own.
Rumour: Teak suppliers have few tools to verify the sourcing and quality of their product.
FALSE. As in any industry, there are those who may not know about the source and quality of their materials, but there are many more suppliers who could provide extensive details of their supply chain. Asking a few questions early in the sourcing process is the easiest way to tell.
Teak is such a hardy species, the wood milled from its trees will often outlast its owners. So many suppliers are making a lifetime commitment to their product and they know more about it than you may ever need to. Teak’s incredible lifespan, coupled with its fantastic natural resistance to pests and rot, puts teak it in high demand (and when anything is in high demand, rumours will circulate).
Because of this demand, now and again dealers will pop up looking to get rich quick, people who know nothing about the wood or forest sustainability. They take advantage of the demand for teak, which leads to unrecoverable losses for buyers, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. These people give teak suppliers a bad name and are far from a fair representation of the industry.
At Mys-Teak, we join those that want to make the purchasing of high-quality teak transparent. We control the supply chain from end to end. From planting the teak trees on old farmland to selling the final product to the end-user, our teak is always in our own “chain of custody”. There are no unnecessary middlemen in our process, which means our buyers are always sold the product they were promised. We have one hundred percent control over the supply chain and the quality control of our teak. And because we are involved with QC at every level of production, we only import the best teak that we have directly produced.
Rumour: Teak is illegally cut from primary jungle in Myanmar and is therefore not sustainable.
FALSE. While that may have been true for some suppliers in the past, it’s once again a worst-case scenario and is limited to only a few who abuse the demand for teak. Mys-Teak joins a community of teak suppliers who take a completely different approach, one that cements our commitment to sustainability and forestry stewardship.
Before establishing our business, we discovered that there was no readily available market research on teak forestry or harvest practices, so we undertook our own two-year survey to best position ourselves in the marketplace. We chose Costa Rica as an ideal location to grow teak due to various soil and environmental conditions that produce better trees.
As happens on any responsible teak plantation, we diligently care for our trees, pruning and trimming to allow the trees to grow unencumbered. When we’ve finished a harvest, we replant into the teak’s prior stump, a technique that can be done up to four times. We only rely on natural growth methods—no pesticides or herbicides that could leach into the wood or the soil. Once we’re finished with the land, we will hand it over either reseeded or as deseeded farmland.
Which is why we are so proud of our own plantations. We are registered with the Ministry of Forests in Costa Rica (MINAE), from whom we achieved a 97.5 percent rating for excellence in quality and responsibly managed plantation. We further maintain carbon credits to offset any emissions from the growth, manufacture, and export of our teak products.
Rumour: Teak dulls my tools.
TRUE. This rumor IS true! But, it’s not a bad thing. The inside of the teak tree is called heartwood (yellowish in colour), and real teak heartwood has a much higher silica composition than other trees. Teak is a fascinating wood because it sponges silica from the dry, sandy soil where it grows best. (We like to say it loves rain, but it doesn’t like wet feet!) Silica is a dessicant, which means it can absorb water. Therefore, teak’s absorption of silica results in a wood has very little water content, which is why it’s so durable. If you’re working with teak and it doesn’t blunt your tools, it’s probably not real teak.
Because of the silica content, teak has formidable anti-slip properties, which makes it great for boats, decks, and other water-adjacent environments. The oils found in the teak are multi-talented too, from providing natural resistance to water, pests (like ants and termites), and rot, to possessing bacteria-killing, antiseptic qualities (great for kitchens!).
Rumour: Teak is too expensive.
FALSE. You’ve heard the old adage, “You get what you pay for”? You might pay a healthy sum for what you think is teak, but because you can’t walk into a warehouse or showroom or talk to a real human with expert knowledge of teak, you run the very real risk of ending up with a product that is decidedly NOT teak.
For example, acacia, grown in Brazil, is commonly sold as teak. A consumer buys what they think is teak, the wood is installed per their project needs, but then, trouble! When the wood begins misbehaving as a result of its environment—humidity will cause an acacia wood floor to expand and warp—then the buyer is both greatly inconvenienced, usually in their own home. And getting compensation for the wood is very challenging, even with guarantees, due to the reality that most woods can perform for at least some length of time.
At Mys-Teak, our goal is to make teak affordable and ensure you know what you are getting. We keep our prices reasonable by controlling the entire supply chain. Often people will pay $50 to $60 for a board of teak, but we can produce a similar product for $20 and half that again for wholesale prices. Plus, the product is stockpiled in our warehouse ready to walk out the door with the consumer; no waiting six months or more for the teak to arrive from overseas (with no guarantee that it is indeed teak).
Ours is a Canadian-founded business with warehouses in Cloverdale, BC. Buyers are welcome to come in and see the stock, live and in person! As an added bonus, consumers are safeguarded from ever running out of product during the construction or manufacture of their projects. Because we own our Costa Rica plantations, our supply chain is secure.
Our Cloverdale facility warehouses 25,000 board feet of teak, all of it grown from the 10,000 trees we have planted (so far!). Our warehouse enables us to really get to know our customers and what they need. For those who are unsure of what teak products are best suited for their project, we always welcome an opportunity to educate. This is really what sets Mys-Teak apart from our competitors.
One final note:
At Mys-Teak, our goal is to simplify the teak-buying experience for our valued consumer. We, therefore, have developed our own grading system based on common industry preferences so you have a clear picture of what you’re buying. Our goal is to save people money by tailoring our grades to specific project applications.
For example, if you need wood for interior furniture or cabinetry then the teak appropriate for this project doesn’t need to be $20/foot marine-grade teak. Instead, $9/foot B Grade teak will do the job perfectly. It’s beautiful, durable, and easier to work with, which makes it best suited for the job.
It’s our mandate to establish a solid reputation built on trust and quality. We hope you will give us the opportunity to help you find the premium teak for your project.