Looking to invest your time and/or money in some quality furniture, but unsure of which wood is best for you?
Here we break down the pros and cons of two of the world’s favorite lumbers – teak and acacia – to help you decide.
With its subtle pale amber boards adorning the decks of exclusive yachts and premium boatbuilders’ finest creations for over a century, teak has become synonymous with all-weather luxury. However, it comes at a price. As one of the most expensive lumbers available, it doesn’t suit everyone, and many people are keen to find an alternative.
Acacia wood is one such alternative. Also commonly used in boatbuilding, it has strong all-weather credentials and is often used in both indoor and outdoor furniture in addition to parquet floors and, most famously, Hawaiian ukuleles!
Now, let’s talk about the differences between the two kinds of wood!
- Often considered to be the gold standard of decay resistance, teak is naturally very high in natural oils. As a result, it can survive for decades with little or no additional treatment. Making it both dependable and low maintenance.
- Teak typically has a Janka hardness rating of 1,070lb. Although this is not the best you can find, it is still considered scratch-resistant.
- It has an exceptionally dense grain and is very resistant to shrinking, swelling and warping.
- Teak is widely considered to be the most naturally water-resistant hardwood available.
- The heartwood (densest and finest quality) will often be a medium to a golden brown, while the sapwood (younger and less dense) is more often a pale amber.
- The grain is subtle, straight or wavy, and understated. You won’t find any attention-grabbing patterns here!
- As the years go by, it will often weather to take on a more silvery tone.
- Teak belies its reputation as a high-end material by being relatively easy to work with. Some carpenters will need time to get used to its oily texture, but it is easily cleaned, ready for tooling if needed.
- Teak must be pre-bored for nailing.
- Its high silica content will blunt tools quickly, however. Carbide blades are highly recommended for working with teak.
- Widely available worldwide, but beware of fake teak! Producers of various types of lumber have re-named their species to attract buyers. Typically this takes the form of adding the nation of origin to the name ‘teak.’ For example, Brazilian teak is, in fact, another species altogether. Burmese Teak, however, is the real deal!
Thankfully, and despite its high value, teak has not been over-logged in recent years. It is not on the CITES appendices or the IUCN red list of endangered species, and most teak in the West comes from carefully managed plantations.
Prices range from $200 per cubic meter/yard for younger sapwood, through to an eye-watering $1,500 per cubic meter/yard for forty-year-old heartwood.
So, what does acacia wood have to make it a viable alternative? Find out below!
- Acacia boasts strong durability credentials. It can last up to forty years in outdoor conditions if well cared for. It will require routine maintenance, such as waxing to protect against moisture and shielding from the harshest sunlight to prevent drying and cracking.
- It is naturally resistant to both fungus and attacks from insects.
- Acacia will not warp easily. If proper care is taken to maintain it, it is suitable for use on boats and pool-side furniture.
- Extremely strong. Acacia is well suited to heavy load-bearing tasks, such as tables and chairs and heavy shelving.
- A Janka hardness rating of 2,300lbs makes acacia extremely resistant to scratches and ideal for flooring and work surfaces.
- A wide variation of colors is available from a light yellow-amber through to deep mahogany. Cross-sections of an acacia trunk will often display a bright amber edge that contrasts sharply with a vibrant, red-brown center.
- Acacia has a naturally beautiful texture and requires little work to bring it to a smooth, glossy finish.
- Its grain moves between straight and wavy, and often have significant variances in its shade. This can mean some beautiful highlights in the intricate grain patterns. When treated with the right finish, acacia can look stunning!
- Acacia manages to have the best of both worlds. Being both relatively malleable and easy to work within its raw state, and then hard and strong after being kiln-dried. This allows carpenters to create some highly creative and beautiful designs.
- Densities can vary within a single cut of wood. Therefore planning can be tricky and lead to a somewhat brittle response from the timber.
Supply is rarely an issue. It is produced in substantial quantities in Australia, Asia, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas.
Acacia grows at a prodigious rate. Up to three feet per year for some varieties! As a result, it is not in danger of being over-exploited. With such a fast growth rate, the felled trees can be replaced quickly to meet global demand.
Ranging from $170 to $250 per cubic yard, acacia is far from the cheapest timber out there. However, it is far from the realm of its exotic wood counterparts and makes a feasible option for many people on medium budgets.
So which is best for you?
Of course, everyone’s needs are different, but if you are looking for the ultimate in outdoor longevity and minimum in maintenance, then teak has to be the best option. The people who have good money to spend have been choosing it for decades for a reason! However, with the vast price difference between the two options, it could be worth considering acacia and putting some of the money saved towards more regular maintenance.
But, if the question is aesthetics, then the answer is far less clear. Teak provides a sleeker, arguably more classic, look. One that will not offend and can fit well with multiple styles of décor. On the other hand, the right treatment can bring out a bold presence in acacia that teak can never manage. So, if making an eye-catching statement is your goal, then acacia may be the perfect blend of strength, longevity, and visual charisma.
Ultimately there is no wrong choice between the two. Both are well-proven and well-loved. Make your decision either way, and you can rest assured in the knowledge that you have invested in quality timber that will serve you well for years to come!
Expert Crafted Solid Acacia Wood Tables
Are you looking for a stunning high-quality solid wood table? Contact us today for more information on how we can build a custom table just for you! Here are just a few examples of the types of acacia wood live edge dining tables we offer.