Teak has a well-deserved reputation as the premium wood choice for outdoor furniture, but it’s also a rather expensive wood and not in everyone’s budget.
Lots of people want something with the look and quality of teak but at a more affordable price point.
Luckily, if you fall into this group you can be happy to know that there are a couple teak alternatives that offer the same combination of beauty and durability 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. And the primary reason for the high cost is simply 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 a third teak alternative that you could also consider, especially if you prioritize savings.
Is Acacia Wood Similar to Teak?
Acacia is another hardwood variety commonly used in outdoor furniture. While it is far cheaper that teak, it doesn’t quite 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 really long-lasting. For that, eucalyptus and shorea wood are the two best options.
The main difference between acacia and teak is that acacia has much lower natural oil content—and thus lower density. Teak can last for decades even untreated, but acacia will need some protective treatment to get your money’s worth.
That being said, the amount of money you can save by choosing acacia is considerable. So much so, that acacia furniture makes a very practical option for many people, especially if you want a smaller set of outdoor furniture on a limited budget. So if savings are your number one concern, be sure to read our post on the best acacia wood outdoor furniture.
However, if you’re looking for a teak substitute wood that can more closely match it’s durability, shorea and eucalyptus are your best bets. Now let’s look at both of these woods in detail to see why they’re good choices for consumers who wish to balance quality and value:
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.
Eucalyptus vs Teak
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.
One the other hand, 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 trade-off of a slightly shorter expected lifetime for the significantly lower price of eucalyptus furniture.
So when you compare eucalyptus vs teak wood for outdoor furniture, you’ll find that the perceived quality of eucalyptus is only slightly lower then teak. But when looking at prices, the savings of picking eucalyptus wood can more than outweigh the possible reduced lifetime of the product. The ultimate decision really depends on the buyer’s priorities—cost or durability. If you really want the most long-lasting furniture then choose teak, but if you prefer to save a bit of money then eucalyptus can be a great alternative.
Acacia vs Eucalyptus wood
As for the comparison between eucalyptus and acacia wood for outdoor furniture, you’ll find that eucalyptus ends up more durable and closer in quality to teak. While, on the other hand, acacia furniture can be cheaper to purchase than eucalyptus.
In general, I would steer towards eucalyptus (or teak) if you want to buy a nice big dining set or other furniture that you plan to have for 20+ years. If, on the other hand, you just want to get a small bistro set or something similar, and you want it right now without worrying too much about the cost, then acacia wood can be a perfectly fine choice.
There are approximately 196 different species of trees in the Shorea genus that are native to the tropical 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.
Shorea Wood vs Teak
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. Shorea tree plantations are plentiful in the countries where it’s grown. The abundance of 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.
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, 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. 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.
What is the Best Wood for Patio Furniture?
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. And now that brings us to a related question:
Which wood is the best teak substitute?
The correct answer to this question will depend on your individual goals.
If you’re looking to find outdoor furniture that will hold up for as long as teak—at a slightly lower price—then I would suggest going with shorea.
However, if you want hardwood furniture that mimics teak in appearance and quality with significant savings—then you should look at eucalyptus.
Finally, if saving money is your biggest priority, and you’re not so concerned about the longevity of the product—acacia is an acceptable choice.