The teak commonly used in outdoor furniture today is from the wood species known as Tectona Grandis. This large flowering tree is native to south and southeast Asia. Teak has long been prized as a material for shipbuilding and later, outdoor furniture due to its many properties which make it favorable for outdoor environments. The high oil content of the wood makes it waterproof and impervious to termites and other pests. The tight grain of the wood makes it strong, but still easy to work with to create a variety of different shapes and uses.
Whether you prefer your teak aged to silvery perfection, or cleaned and protected to maintain a honey golden finish, the investment in teak outdoor furniture is money well spent. Due to the extreme durability of teak, it is common to see teak furniture passed down from generation to generation. This is why we use the term Heirloom Teak to refer to these pieces which will endure indoors or out for generations to come.
Sustainably Grown Plantation Teak
Teak’s reputation as a durable, long-lasting outdoor material has made it vulnerable to over-harvesting. As a result, the Indonesian government created a state-owned enterprise known as Perum Perhutani responsible for the oversight of teak production in Java and Madura. The responsibilities of Perum Perhutani include developing well-managed forests, promoting biodiversity and also improving the quality of life for those who are involved in the production of teak.
Agroforestry is incorporated into the Perum Perhutani system so that local people are able to farm other crops among rows of planted teak trees. This way, they may earn additional income while the teak trees are growing. Local residents are taught the skills needed to build high-quality teak furniture creating a sustainable industry and source of income for local workers.
Perum Perhutani controls the production and harvesting of trees within the plantation system to ensure that only mature trees are harvested. They also ensure that an equal amount of reforestation occurs to maintain the forest. With an average maturation of 50 years, this is a time-consuming labor of love.
Mature teak trees produce a higher yield of Grade A teak which can be identified by its golden-brown color and produces furniture with increased strength and longevity. Grade A teak is infused with natural oils and does not need to be treated with teak oil to maintain its natural properties. Lower-grade teak, also known as “sapwood”, comes from trees harvested before they have reached maturity. Sapwood can be easily identified by its light, yellow color and is often used in low quality, bargain-priced teak furniture.
Internationally known furniture companies including Gloster and Barlow Tyrie have set up facilities in Indonesia under the jurisdiction of Perum Perhutani to build their teak furniture from Grade A responsibly harvested plantation teak. These manufacturers use only legally harvested teak and employ local workers to hand-craft their furniture according to time tested methods. As a result, consumers can enjoy high-quality teak furniture made to last generations. These pieces are exceedingly economical when you consider the years of use you will get from them and earn the right to be called Heirloom Teak.