Teak vs Shorea
When you are buying premium outdoor wood furniture, teak furniture seems to dominate the market. But Shorea (Balau species) has been making inroads into the market. Both of the woods are considered an Asian hardwood. So, what makes them different? They both have a high density ratio; Teak weighs 43 pounds per square foot cubed and Shorea at 46 pounds per square foot cubed compared to a wood like cedar at 22.5 pounds per foot cubed. This makes them both very strong, which enables them to resist wear and tear that a lot of outdoor furniture receives. They also have a high concentration of oil in them. This along with the density allows both woods to be more impermeable to water compared to other woods like cedar or pine with lower oil content. One advantage that Teak has over Shorea is that is a little more elastic, which makes it better for carving and a little less susceptible to checking. Teak and Shorea woods have both been used in ship building for centuries because of these properties.
The other property you hear about when discussing teak is how it is rot and insect resistant. This is true for the same reasons that make the wood water resistant (the density and oils in the wood) and as we discussed earlier Shorea has the same properties. How would you like to be a termite trying bite into a wood as dense as these. They used Shorea wood in buildings in Holland at the turn of the century because of the resistance to rot. They have dug up logs that have been in the ground since the early 1900’s that show very little rot or insect damage. Although you will not be burying your furniture, it nice to know that it can handle adverse conditions.
The first question that many people ask after learning about Shorea is it priced more competitively than Teak? There a few reasons that may affect the pricing. One, Shorea wood is more plentiful. It grows in many of the rain forest of South East Asia (although it is plantation grown also). Teak is less plentiful and is mainly plantation grown these days in Indonesia. Second is the name recognition. Teak is known and can demand a premium in the market and has also been the choice material for the top quality manufactures of outdoor furniture which also demand a higher price. Shorea wood is a relatively new wood into the North American market and until recently top manufactures have not chosen to use it. You can now find high quality manufactures (such as Oxford Garden) making Shorea furniture.
Shorea and Teak both have the same qualities when it comes to weathering. While Shorea may have more of a red brown tint verses the Teaks golden brown color, they both will bleach in the sun to a grey color. Teak oil can be used on both of the woods to bring back the color of the wood. They both have a 20 year plus life if they are not abused and taken care of by applying oil regularly.
Our point of writing this is not to talk you out of buying teak furniture but to inform you that there are other options if you want to get a premium outdoor hardwood furniture set.
|Teak (Tactona Grandis)||Shorea (Balau)|
|Density of Wood (Lb/sqf Cubed)||43 pounds||46 pounds|
|Rot and Insect Resistance||Very High||Very High|
|Strength of Wood||Very High||Very High|
|Recommended Finish||Teak Oil||Teak Oil|
Places to learn more about Shorea:
Places to learn more about Teak: