Working with Teak: “Why is my teak so streaky, white, orange, zebralike–not honeycolour?!?”

Welcome to our 6th of six blogs on “Working with Teak”.  For those who have not seen our other video blogs, my name is Robert.  Today I will show you the amazing transformation of freshly milled teak when exposed to sunlight. 

Both plantation and 300-year-old “Old Growth” teak contain an abundance of natural oils.  These oils, when exposed to oxygen will begin to oxidize.  However, when exposed to the UV rays in sunlight, this process will be accelerated almost to the point that you can see the changes in real time. 

When teak is freshly cut, it is usually streaky, blotchy and frequently a kaleidoscope of colours from white to bright orange to dark brown.  The prized even honey colour tones are rare to find straight out of the planer. 

How can we get the wood to “settle down”?  Simply alternate exposure to direct sunlight and then shade (or indoors) for a few hours each time.  While exposed to the sunlight the teak will generally begin to both darken, and to present orange streaks – or if already white, strongly turn orange.  Somewhat like a sunburn on fair skin.  This process is so dramatic that frequently you can actually see it happening.  You can then either rotate the reverse surface up or bring indoors to allow the colour change to fade and blend.  Repeat this process as necessary until the colour you are looking for occurs. 

If the streaks are already very dark, they will fade and blend, but this generally takes a bit longer.  Once you have the look you want, then go ahead and apply a finish.

See our before and after results of two teak planks, cut from the same slab at the same time, planed and edged, very white and note the differences between them in just a short period of time. 

So, this is just one more incredible feature of teak!  Extremely durable, strong, resistant to pests, moulds, fungus, termites, salt water, anti slip – even with oil finishes, dimensionally very stable, and now beautiful to look at no matter your taste!