Teak is a premier exotic hardwood that works well in a number of different applications. Choosing top quality Teak materials can make a huge difference in the final result of your project. Figuring out the length, width, and thickness of boards you’ll need for your next lumber purchase as well as finding a reliable supplier are two important factors to think about when you’re buying Teak (see Part 1). Another consideration to make is how much the lumber has been kiln dried when you purchase it from the lumber dealer. Different projects have different requirements. In this article, we’ll explore this crucial aspect of making a Teak lumber purchase.
How to Determine the Ideal Moisture Content Percentage for Teak Lumber
A vast majority of the time, Teak lumber that is re-dried using a kiln will be dried to 12-15%, which is the normal European standard. This moisture content percentage is fine if the Teak lumber is meant for an imprecise exterior project. For example, docks, decking, or siding.
For applications that require more exact measurements, such as shipbuilding, you’ll want to find Teak wood that has been dried to between 6% and 8%. The reason for this extra drying will become clear after you begin your project. You don’t want the Teak lumber used in a precise project of this sort to experience any kind of significant movement throughout the building process or after it is completed. Find out well in advance of your lumber purchase what moisture percentage your Teak supplier typically allows for their Teak wood. If they’re quoting you for a 12-15% kiln drying moisture level and you need the moisture content to be only 6-8%, find out how much longer and more expensive it will be to get it down to your desired moisture content.
Keep the lines of communication open as you describe your project to the Teak lumber dealer you’re working with to secure the boards for your project. If they understand how you’re going to use the wood, they’ll be better able to advise you on details such as recommended size and moisture content. If they’re a knowledgeable dealer, they’ll help you find a product that will best fit your needs and budget. Be leery of any dealer who doesn’t seem familiar with these issues or who tries to sell you re-dried wood in situations where it’s not really necessary.
Other factors you’ll want to consider are the grade and aesthetic qualities of the Teak lumber. These will vary from project to project and will be addressed in a future article series. Sometimes Teak lumber that is being passed off as top-quality Burmese Teak by unscrupulous dealers really isn’t from Myanmar but is lower grade lumber from another source. There are sometimes visual clues that you can learn to pick up on that will help you to figure out if you’re really getting the best possible quality Teak available. Since Teak, like all wood, is an organic material, you’ll always need to expect there to be at least some differences in the look of the boards even if you’re ordering a small quantity. Rather than viewing that variability in a negative light, you can consider it part of the unique beauty of working with a natural product.