What is Grade A Teak?

Many manufacturers of teak furniture advertise their products as Grade A teak. You may be wondering what the difference is between Grade A teak and other grades of teak wood, and how to tell them apart. Teak patio furniture is an investment, so you want to make sure you can recognize quality teak wood when you see it. This guide will explain the 3 grades of teak wood so that you can make an informed purchase.

teak forest with tall straight trees
Teak trees growing up tall and straight

What is Teak?

Teak is a tropical hardwood tree native to India and Southeast Asia. It growth fairly straight upright, and can reach heights of up to 130 feet. Teak wood is known for having a high oil content, which protects the wood from both water damage and insects such as termintes. Because of the superior properties of teak, this wood has been prized as a building material for homes, boats, and furniture for centuries. Due to density and protective oils of teak wood, furniture items can last for a lifetime.

There are 3 grades of teak wood: A, B, and C. They represent mature heartwood, immature heartwood, and sapwood. Mature heartwood is of course the highest quality wood, while sapwood is the lowest quality. Let’s now look at each grade in detail.

Grade A Teak

grade A teak outdoor dining table
Grade A teak dining table

Grade A teak refers to the mature heartwood of a teak tree. In order to harvest mature heartwood, a teak tree needs to be about 20 years old or more. This is the timber that comes from the very center of the trunk of a teak tree. Grade A teak is rich with natural oil. The wood should feel slightly oily when you touch it. And it should have a warm golden color when new, like the color of honey. The wood grains should be very close together as this is the densest part of the tree. Grade A teak is what you want your furniture made from. When a teak tree is harvested, less than a quarter of the available wood will be Grade A. So this makes Grade A teak relatively expensive. When buying teak furniture, you are paying for quality. If some supposedly “Grade A” teak furniture seems priced ridiculously cheap, there is a possibility that you are being misled.

Grade B Teak

Grade B teak refers to the immature heartwood. This would be the outer section of heartwood that is found in between the mature heartwood and the outer sapwood. The grain of Grade B teak will not be as uniform as that of Grade A teak. Grade B teak wood will also not contain as much oil. So if will appear more dull that the glossier Grade A wood. Furniture made from Grade B teak will still hold up, but not as well as anything made from Grade A teak. If you know that an item is made from Grade B teak, make sure to apply teak sealer or teak protector annually to help your furniture have a long life. Furniture made from Grade B teak should be noticeably cheaper than items made from Grade A teak.

Grade C Teak

Grade C teak refers to the sapwood of the teak tree. This is the outer wood, which is still growing. This section of the truck is vital to the livelihood of the teak tree. The sapwood caries water and nutrients up the trunk and into all the branches. Grade C teak wood is therefore full of water and lacking oil. The grain will be much further apart than the grain of Grade A wood. Grade C teak will also have an uneven color. Since the sapwood is not nearly as dense or strong as the heartwood, Grade C teak can be easily damaged. It is no good for making furniture, because it is almost guaranteed to form splits and become warped in a relatively short amount of time. Because this is such an inferior wood, it is inexpensive. Some unscrupulous sellers may try to pass off Grade C teak as Grade A teak, so please don’t be fooled.

Real Grade A teak furniture will last a lifetime without needing any special treatments. But you should still clean it yearly, and if you want to keep the color more fresh, then go ahead and apply a sealer or protector after cleaning. Grade B teak should be treated once a year to make sure it is fully protected from the elements. This is because it has less natural oil than Grade A teak. At the bottom end is Grade C teak, which should not even be purchased. Any furniture made from grade C teak will only lead to disappointment. If quality teak is out of your price range, you’d be better off buying something like pine furniture or even a synthetic polywood rather than anything made from inferior Grade C teak.


Photo credit: airfund / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Wickerfurniture / Foter / CC BY