Buyers Guide: Choose the Best Teak Outdoor Furniture for Your Space
Teak, the common name for the tropical tree species Tectona Grandis, is a highly valued hardwood only found in the South and Southeast regions of Asia. A dense-grained wood, teak is one of the hardest and most durable woods available on the market today.
Especially valued for outdoor furniture because of the natural properties of the wood, teak contains a high level of natural oils and resins that make it inherently water repellant and long lasting - even when exposed to rain and humidity. Even better, the oils contained within Grade A teak make it naturally resistant to termites and other wood boring insects, too.
Not all teak is the same, though. There is definitely a difference between cheaply made teak furniture and high-end teak outdoor furniture. Before you decide to save a little money, be sure that the teak furniture you are buying is really top of the line and built to last. We carry nothing but the best teak furniture brands here.
Here are the questions you need to ask before investing in teak furniture:
What Grade Teak is the Furniture Made From?
The best teak furniture is made from Grade A Teak wood. Grade A teak comes from the most mature heartwood section of teak timber. This is not only the part of the tree that has the most oils, it is also where the grain is closer together, making the wood stronger than wood made from other sections of the tree. This inner section of Grade A teak only comprises 20-25% of a mature tree.
Grade B teak is the next 25-35% of a tree. It doesn't contain the same level of oils as the inner most quarter and its grain is wider apart than Grade A teak, making it more vulnerable to weather conditions and also weaker. Quite a few European and U.K. furniture makers get away with using this far from excellent grade of teak.
Grade C teak is the worst of the lot. Once thrown away because it was considered worthless by furniture makers, there are unfortunately quite a few "budget" teak brands using the worst of the worst teak - especially if it is made in China. A much softer wood with little grain and zero natural oils, it is not even suitable for use on inside furniture; you might as well have furniture made of particle board!
Check to make sure that the teak furniture you are buying is Grade A teak. It is lighter in color than Grade B or C teak with a very noticeable grain pattern. If the company does not mention the grade of teak they use, you can count on it being Grade B, at best!
Teak HQ only sells Grade A teak outdoor furniture.
Is the Teak Kiln Dried?
The best teak furniture is made from wood that is kiln dried, a process that removes the moisture from the wood. Moisture is what causes wood to shrink and expand with changes in humidity - something that definitely is detrimental to ensuring well fitted furniture joints.
In worst case scenarios, screws, nails or dowels will become dislodged and your teak furniture will break if it is not kiln dried and, of course, the wood, itself, could warp and become deteriorated if it is not prepared properly before being made into furniture.
All of the outdoor teak furniture here at TeakHQ is made with kiln dried wood.
What Kind of Joints are Used to Fasten Teak Furniture Sections?
Mortise and tenon joints have been used since the 12th century by skilled woodworkers because they ensure a tight fit between furniture segments where they join at right angles.
A finger (called a tenon) is milled to fit into a "hole" (mortise), allowing all four edge and face surfaces of the tenon to fit snugly against the walls of the mortise. This ensures a maximum tight bond - something that can never be achieved by a simple screw or dowel-type connection.
In fact, Wood Magazine conducted a stress test in 2006, testing joints made with pocket screws, dowels and mortise and tenon joints. The results weren't even close ...
- A biscuit miter joint only required 220 pounds of force to pull the joint apart
- Dado joints fared better, requiring 559 pounds of force to pull them apart
- Screws were totally ineffective requiring almost zero force to pull the joint apart
- The mortise and tenon joint required 4,733 pounds of force (nearly 2 ½ tons) to pull the joint apart. In fact, the wood broke before the actual joint failed. The mortise and tenon joint was also able to withstand far more weight force in a Shear Test, able to withstand over 1,005 pounds of force, more than double to triple the amount of force to break compared to the other joints.
All of the outdoor teak furniture here at TeakHQ employ mortise and tenon joints.
What Kind of Hardware is Used?
Not everything with furniture can use mortise and tenon joints. When hardware is needed, it absolutely MUST BE stainless steel hardware.
Many cheaper teak furniture companies use steel hardware - something that is not rust and corrosion resistant - and they'll sometimes coat the steel with corrosive-resistant products that eventually break down over time.
Stainless steel hardware, on the other hand, is inherently more non-corrosive, meaning that it will naturally last longer than coated steels (although some proper care is still needed because it is not 100% non-corrosive). In fact, because it is inherently more non-corrosive, stainless steel is "self healing", meaning that even if it is nicked or scraped, the metal, itself, will still be as non-corrosive layer after layer.
Only stainless steel hardware is used with all of the outdoor teak furniture here at TeakHQ.
Is the Furniture Made with Plantation Wood?
Would you rather have your furniture made out of wood that required the felling of trees in a forest or would you prefer to use wood that is from trees grown on farms specifically for creating lumber?
I think the answer is clear. Plantation wood is more environmentally friendly - no naturally growing trees are destroyed nor the habitats of the many creatures that live in a forest.
In addition to its environmental pluses, trees grown on government inspected plantations have strict quality controls, meaning nothing but healthy trees are used to make wood from.
Only plantation wood is used for the teak wood furniture here at TeakHQ
What Kind of Warranty Does the Furniture Have?
A dead giveaway for poor craftmanship or low quality teak wood is the warranty. If the furniture only comes with a one year warranty, you know you aren't getting high quality furniture that is made to last.
All of the teak furniture here at Teak HQ has a 3 Year Warranty (and it will probably last many years beyond that).
How Well are the Cushions or Slings Made?
Although a well designed teak chair can be plenty comfortable, it is even more comfortable with a little bit of cushioning.
Beautiful, long lasting wood loses a lot of its appeal if it is adorned with cheap fabric and cushions that fade and become tattered after being exposed to rain and the sun.
Whether you opt for a teak canvas sling chair or a deep cushion teak sofa, be sure that the furniture you are buying also has high quality fabrics that are made to last as long as your teak wood does.
In particular, be sure that it protects against UV rays, is made to withstand water and dirt and just as important, that it is easy to clean and maintain. Sunbrella is the fabric of choice these days because it is made specifically for enduring harsh sun rays and pounding rain. Cushions with zippered covers are especially great because the covers can be simply thrown in the washing machine from time to time to keep them looking brand new.
All of our cushions for teak chairs, sofas and lounges use Sunbrella fabric.
For more information on how to keep your teak furniture, slings and cushions clean and looking like brand new, be sure to check out our Teak Outdoor Furniture Care Guide.