Teak has a well-deserved reputation as the premium choice for wooden outdoor furniture, but it is also a rather expensive wood and not in everyone’s budget. Luckily, if you fall into this group you can be happy to know that there are a couple alternative wood choices that offer the same combination of beauty and durability as teak at a lower cost.
The main benefit of teak is that it is a dense wood with lots of natural oil that protects it from weather, pests, and fungus. The only real drawback to teak is its high cost, which is mostly due to its limited availability. On the other hand, shorea wood and eucalyptus are both grown in abundance. This makes them less expensive for the consumer, even though they are also dense woods that both look great and hold up excellently in an outdoor environment.
Acacia wood is another hardwood variety commonly used in outdoor furniture. While it is far cheaper that teak, it doesn’t match shorea or eucalyptus in quality. It’s good if you’re on a tight budget, but doesn’t make a viable alternative to teak if you want something long-lasting. For that, eucalyptus and shorea wood are the two best options.
Let’s look at both of these woods in detail to see why they are a good choice for consumers who wish to balance quality and value:
There are approximately 196 different species of trees in the Shorea genus that are native to rainforests of India and Southeast Asia. Shorea are some of the tallest trees in the world, with a few specimens in the wild being measured at over 260 feet tall!
Like teak, shorea wood has a high oil content that makes it resistant to rotting and infestations by insects. Fresh shorea wood has a lovely golden color, but if you leave shorea wood untreated, it will weather to a silvery gray color just like teak wood. Many people have an appreciation for this natural color transformation. However, if you’d like to maintain the golden color of new shorea wood furniture, various teak furniture care products such as Semco Teak Sealer would do the job.
When your shorea wood furniture set arrives at your door you may be surprised to find out just how heavy the wood is. In fact, shorea has an even higher density than teak due to the tighter grain of the wood. It has a durability that will stand the test of time. No matter what climate you live in, your shorea outdoor furniture should last many decades.
The main advantage shorea has over teak is its lower cost. The abundance of shorea plantations guarantees a plentiful supply of this tropical hardwood, which drives down the cost for the consumer. This makes shorea patio furniture a smart choice.
Eucalyptus is a native of Australia, where it is famously known as the only food eaten by koalas. This tree is so useful, though, that it is now grown in dozens of countries across every continent except for Antarctica. The oil produced by eucalyptus trees is a natural insecticide. It is also used extensively in a wide variety of health and beauty products.
Eucalyptus is an incredibly fast growing tree. This means that it can be grown in a sustainable manner. It also makes eucalyptus a valuable natural resource for farmers and villagers in developing countries—many of whom grow rows of eucalyptus trees on a portion of their land to supplement their income.
Eucalyptus trees also have a very attractive white to silvery-grey bark, which combined with their fast-growing nature makes them an excellent shade tree to plant along roadways.
When considering eucalyptus outdoor furniture, you should know that it is an excellent hardwood and can last up to 25 years exposed to the elements if left untreated. And with regular maintenance it can last much longer. That said, it is not quite as strong or durable as teak.
The savings by choosing eucalyptus instead of teak can be rather significant. Eucalyptus is one of the most widely cultivated tropical hardwoods. This keeps its cost low, and many consumers will gladly take the tradeoff of a slightly shorter expected lifetime for the significantly lower price of eucalyptus furniture.
How Much Can You Save by Buying Shorea or Eucalyptus Furniture?
What are the actual savings you’d get by choosing shorea or eucalyptus furniture over teak? In some cases you may be able to get comparable quality outdoor furniture for around half the cost. Let’s look at a few examples of specific furniture items and their prices as listed on Amazon.com at the time of writing.
Here is a 4-Foot Shorea Bench by Oxford Garden. It is currently listed at $399 and has an average rating of 4.5 stars from 40 different customer reviews. Clearly those who have bought this item are satisfied with the quality of the product.
We might compare it to the Three Birds Classic 4-Foot Teak Bench (right), which is currently listed at $683. Both of these benches have a similar design, and both should hold up excellently over time in your backyard. The main difference is just the lower cost of nearly $300 less for the shorea item.
Now for an example of eucalyptus furniture, check out this 9-Piece Oval Dining Set by Amazonia:
The price currently listed for this set is $1,793. That is no small amount of change, but consider that this is for a full 9-piece hardwood patio set. The table can extend from 6 feet to 7 3/4 feet, and the set includes 8 stackable armchairs.
A fair item to compare it with would be this Belfast 9-Piece Oval Teak Dining Set also by Amazonia (right). This set also has an extendable oval table of approximately the same size, and like the other set, it comes with 8 armchairs. Because both sets are made by the same manufacturer, we can assume that they have about the same level of attention to detail and quality. They main difference is just in the type of wood used as the raw material. In this case, the teak wood set sells for $2,594. This makes it about $800 more expensive than the eucalyptus set of very similar design. Overall, the eucalyptus dining set is about 30% cheaper than the teak one.
As you can see, it is possible to get considerable savings on the cost of your outdoor furniture by choosing either shorea wood or eucalyptus as an alternative to a teak patio set. You can save money without having to sacrifice much in terms of quality, as both of these alternative woods are attractive and durable. Teak is still the king of woods for outdoor furniture, but if you decide to save a little money by going with shorea or eucalyptus you won’t be disappointed with your decision.