Teak furniture manufacturers are starting to have custom finishes these days. The finishes are lovely shades of stains and colors that coordinate with popular furniture styles. But before you jump to have that custom finish applied, take a look at the benefits you can get from keeping your teak unfinished. For many buyers, the environmental issues surrounding natural teak prompt them to learn how it is manufactured. And that has made all the difference in their choices.
Teak is a hardwood that is durable above and beyond other hardwoods. It actually can last for years outdoors, even though it is unfinished. The dense wood develops a silvery color over the years. It can be found in outdoor environments all over the world. Some teak furniture has held strong for over 100 years.
Teak grows in Southeast Asia. It is found naturally on dry, hilly areas. As its popularity increases, countries that grow and manufacture it have developed controls to protect it. Teak used for commercial purposes comes from teak tree farms instead of natural areas. Teak is a sustainable resource that governments are now striving to control so that it may be available for generations. Not much energy is required to manufacture teak, and it has become a focal point of many local social systems and economies.
When discarded furniture reaches landfills, the stains and colors used to finish it often taint the decaying process because these artificial products do not degrade naturally. But unfinished teak simply decays naturally, leaving nothing harmful in the earth. Many manufacturers embrace this quality and take pride in working with natural teak to create their excellent furniture.
During the manufacturing process, scraps of teak are always left over, but never wasted. They are often used to make other products, and as fuel to support the drying process for the teak wood. In this way teak leaves a nominal footprint on its own environment.
Teak trees actually take at least 40 years to mature for harvesting. Manufacturers wait for the older trees to be ready, and choose carefully. Once a tree is harvested, it must be drained before it can be dried. The water content in teak is very high, and it takes about two years of slow draining before it reaches optimal moisture levels for drying.
Drying must take place in a kiln. The teak may dry for months before it is ready to use. Once the moisture is gone, the teak will become very dense. The dry wood is not affected by weather or even termites. Each step of the process is watched carefully to ensure that no teak is lost to insufficient drying. Splitting or splintering teak means that it was not dried enough.
Strong joints are created with tongue and groove joinery. The assembly points are fastened with waterproof glue. Once the glue dries, the furniture piece is strong and built to last a lifetime.
Teak grows under governmental protection programs in controlled teak tree farms. Cultivation is carefully done, and the number of trees felled each year is often doubled or tripled with new trees to take their place. Governments are responsible to make certain that more teak is planted than is harvested. Their cultures and economies depend upon good management.
Teak is a superior wood. It certainly holds its own as natural, unfinished furniture, and it also takes on custom finishes with ease. Regardless of its finish, it remains durable for generations. Leaving it unfinished may be an ecological choice for some, and not a consideration for others. Consider its heritage, and you may decide for yourself.
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