Finding a Teak Alternative for Your Next Project

FEQ Teak boards

FEQ Teak boards

This article features one of our clients, the J. Gibson McIlvain company. Visit them online at or call them toll free at (800) 638-9100.

As a log ban scheduled for April 2014 in Myanmar threatens to significantly decrease Teak supply, add longer delays, and perhaps increase prices, contractors may find themselves looking for an alternative to Teak. While the log ban could quite possibly increase quality control, as well as add sustainable measures into the Teak supply of Myanmar, the net results of the log ban are as follows: Teak will no longer be exported as logs, but rather must be sent first to a saw mill for sawing and drying before being exported. This could add as much as a 6-8 month delay on top of already lengthy transit times.

In the months before April 2014, Myanmar log yards will certainly work on shipping out Teak wood as fast as possible. However, by April, their yards will be empty, and the new saw mill process will go into effect, as well as government imposed reductions in harvesting. While many of these measures will possibly help the Myanmar Teak industry in the years to come, in the short term, customers in the U.S. may need to look to alternatives.

Pile of Teak logs

Pile of Teak logs

Teak is particularly known for its durability and water resistance, making it a top choice for boat building, outdoor construction, veneer, furniture, and other exterior wood projects. Teak is a golden-brown color with a variable pattern. A naturally occurring silica content makes Teak a top choice for projects in an outdoor, wet climate as it is nearly waterproof and insect resistant.

Some builders may consider Iroko as a doable Teak alternative. Iroko, or African Teak, is exported from the west coast of Africa, and it darkens to a deep brown over time. Known as a durable wood, it does not require regular maintenance when used outdoors. The medium to coarse texture and tight wood grains make Iroko resistant to rot and insect infestation. The overall look is somewhat similar to Teak, and Iroko could be considered as one cost-effective alternative, as it is already being used in furniture building, veneer, cabinetry, boat building, and turned items.

Teak wine rack in a yacht

Teak wine rack in a yacht

Mahogany may be an alternative to consider using for certain parts of the boat building process. Because Teak’s versatility and unmatchable qualities make it the unwavering number one choice in boat building, finding a comparable alternative is very difficult. While Teak is the top choice for the decking and flooring of a boat, mahogany could be used in other areas of construction. With a straight grained, reddish brown color, Mahogany is a beautiful hardwood that is durable and also extremely workable; because of its qualities, Mahogany is a top choice in the building of cabinetry, furniture, and even musical instruments. Because it will resist wood rot, Mahogany can be a viable alternative used in certain portions of a boat.

As you can see, the Teak alternative options are limited, and neither option is a perfect apple-to-apple match for Teak. Recognizing that the Teak industry is about to change, based on your project and the specifications required, you must question whether you absolutely need traditional Teak, what the price range is for an alternative, and what alternative is best for your specific needs. The wood specialists at J. Gibson McIlvain Company would be glad to discuss over the phone possible Teak alternatives that would suit your specific project. Contact the J. Gibson McIlvain Company at (800) 638-9100.

If you are in the market for Teak, J. Gibson McIlvain Company is one of the largest importers of Teak and has an extensive inventory of sizing available, including 4/4 – 16/4 x 6/8″ wide x 6/8’ length; 4/4 – 16/4 x 8″ and wider x 10’ and longer; Special stock in 10, 12, and 16/4 for yacht toe rails; 16″ and wider x 16’ and longer for yacht cover boards; Quartersawn 3/4 x 2″ x 10′ and up for decking, as well as very wide (24″+) and very long (20′+) lumber to specifically serve the boating industry.

If you are in the market for an alternative, J. Gibson McIlvain Company also stocks many hardwoods in their extensive lumber yards; experts at J. Gibson McIlvain are available to discuss your project needs and possible alternatives.

j gibson mcilvain lumber companyJ. Gibson McIlvain Company

Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company ( is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.

As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums. Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.

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