Recently, I’ve noticed something called ‘Amazon Teak’ sold by the Big Box stores. It is red in color and features a bit more grain in the wood. I’m not 100% sure of the true species, but I am quite sure it is not genuine teak.
It seems as the price of teak continues to climb, marketers ingeniously come up with new ways to promote their product. Lately, the use of ‘in the family of teak’ seems to be the trend on ebay.
I guess everyone’s kind of related if you consider the 4th cousin to the 3rd aunt on your dad’s side. Shorea, Nyatoh, Bengrey, and Mentrai are not teak.
They are kinda like Ben Stiller – sure, he looks and acts a little like Tom Cruise….but he isn’t Tom Cruise.
The reality is even c-grade teak cost 3x the price of mahogany. And the difference in b-grade and c-grade is about 100%. The term a-grade teak is nothing more than a ploy, as most Indonesian outdoor teak is not made from a-grade. If you want a-grade teak, then buy from the American-made teak companies. Their teak is generally very uniform.
To further generalize my point, I will offer up another analogy. Teak is like a BMW…..and the various grades are like the class series. In my example, I will say the 3-series is similar to c-grade – it’s a fine car, nice leather, nimble, and sharp. The 5-series is similar to b-grade – with upgraded appointments and a bit nicer. The 7-series is similar to a-grade – pretty much top of the line.
The point is – all the classes of BMW are generally good, well-built, and luxurious. Sure, each jump in class offers a little something extra, but all-in-all, the 3-series is as fun a car as the 7-series…..and ultimately gets you to your destination in comfort, safety, and style.
Dipping C-grade To Reassemble A / B-grade
A new technique that started around 2002 is the dipping of c-grade teak into a chemical called 'name not inserted yet'. The chemical reacts with the white sap wood to blend, darken and form a more uniform and consistent look.
Honestly, it’s a clever way to make c-grade appear more uniform.
But, in reality, the wood is perceived as a higher grade and not really truth in advertising. If you know you are getting a dipped teak item, then fine. Yet, many importers and consumers really don’t know the reality in this little trick. Yes, notice, I did say importers – sometimes they don’t have a clue what they are buying.
In addition, dipped teak cannot be oiled. Technically speaking, the chemical is in the pores and the oil doesn’t absorb well.
Truth About C-grade
I’ve read several importer comments about c-grade.
The claims against c-grade seem to be its inferior nature. Well, we are all inferior looking compared to Brad Pitt.
Granted, a/b grade is nice and uniform, but I think c-grade is also attractive. If you like the contrast in hickory, then you will like c-grade teak. It simply has a greater mix of sap and heartwood.
In addition, if you are letting the teak weather naturally, the sharp difference in wood color should be negligible over the years.
I am unclear concerning strength differences. Yet, we don’t have any greater proportion of c-grade teak items break in our personal use. Stallone and Arnold are both strong – I don’t know the point in arguing who is stronger.
Personally, I use c-grade Shelia folding chairs rather than b-grade. When I want a simple chair in the factory, office, or my house, I grab a c-grade folding chair box. My personal decision to use a c-grade chair is primarily based on price and I love hickory.
C-grade & A/B-grade compared
Here we have two different British Gardens Folding chairs: c-grade and b-grade. Each chair has similar features.
This chair is probably the most well known folding chair (without arms). It’s simple, inexpensive, and attractive. Sometimes, this chair will come with various versions (slight differences), sometimes called type B, type C, type D, etc.
In this example, you can clearly see the difference in c-grade teak and a/b-grade teak. Please understand we are reluctant to say any teak is truly a-grade.
In the c-grade teak chair, the sap wood is more prevalent alongside the heartwood. This tree was harvested earlier at around 20 years old, ~17-20cm in diameter. The b-grade chair was probably 30-40 years old and around ~20-40cm in diameter.
In Indonesia, there is a growing group of individual property owners/individuals planting teak trees on their property. The realization that the trees planted today can yield retirement money in the foreseeable future is enough for some to act now. This is a positive step in the right direction on a small scale level. This still doesn’t stop the devastating reality of illegal logging being exported outside the country. Please read further sections on the effects and opinions of this situation.
** BMW does not endorse Teak Closeouts and we don’t want to be sued by BMW, Tom Cruise, or Ben Stiller. Honestly, I'm still a big Cruise fan no matter how many sofas he jumps on.