What is Teak Flooring & How Much Does it Cost?
Teak wood flooring has a wide range in cost depending on the quality and source of wood. The cost of the wood itself is estimated at the following costs for 2014, with variations depending on quality, region, and vendor.
Lowest quality: 500 square feet for a cost of $2900 to $3650
Builder grade: 500 square feet for a cost of $4500 to $5800
Value grade: 500 square feet for a cost of $5200 to $6600
Premium grade: 500 square feet for a cost of $6200 to $7900
Designer grade: 500 square feet for a cost of $6900 to $8800
What is Teak?
Teak is a durable hardwood native to Southeast Asia, especially Thailand and Burma. Because of deforestation, Thailand no longer exports teak, and it is far more typical to acquire teak from plantations grown in the Caribbean, as well as Brazil and Africa. Teak is extremely durable and despite being extremely dense and hard, it can be worked into beautiful sculptures.
Its durability, water resistance and pest resistance mean that even pieces of teak left in fields for years have been gathered and repurposed as components for furniture and artwork. The oils in teak wood give it the natural pest resistance, and it even repels termites. It is a rich reddish brown in color, and if left untreated, the surface will gradually turn a silvery grey with UV exposure.
The grain is generally straight and tight, and the wood has a Janka rating of 1000. Treatment is typically only required to prevent color change, although some sources claim that the floor needs to have a coat of oil applied every 2-3 years so that it retains its water and insect repelling properties. Generally, this is not considered necessary. Teak generally grows to about 40 meters tall, and the oldest known Teak tree is over 1,500 years old.
Thai teak is widely considered superior, but Thailand has made it illegal to export teak because of deforestation. Most teak on the market today will be either Brazilian Teak or Burmese Teak. The only real difference between plantation teaks and natural teaks in native areas are that plantation teaks tend to fade to grey under UV exposure more readily. Wherever you choose to buy your teak, and whatever its source, be sure it is certified sustainable by the Forestry Stewardship Council.
As a way to achieve a more rustic and less fussy finish, hand scraping gives teak a look of old world charm and antiquity. This type of surface finishing may be more desirable with the grain pattern and density of teak.
Advantages of Teak
Teak is a truly beautiful reddish-brown wood with remarkable properties. It has been used for centuries in the hot and humid climate of Thailand and Southeast Asia to build temples, furniture, floors, farm equipment and exquisite works of art. These have lasted for decades and longer, thus proving this beautiful wood’s ability to withstand water damage, rot, and to repel insects. As flooring material, it resists damage from high traffic, pet claws, and rambunctious children. It does not chip or dent easily, and does not splinter.
While teak does not need to be treated to retain most of its properties, untreated teak will gradually develop a silvery color as it dries and is exposed to UV rays. There is disagreement about whether a water-based or oil-based treatment should be used on a teak floor, with differing opinions causing confusion for both homeowners and installers. Suffice it to say that an experienced expert should be on hand to ensure that whichever finish is chosen is applied correctly. Teak is also particularly costly, as most teak has a long trip to make from Asia. In addition, it is extremely important that teak is harvested in a sustainable manner, as unscrupulous cutting has resulted in serious deforestation in its native areas.
Teak wood, like all other woods used for flooring, should be stored in the location in which it is to be used for several weeks so that it will properly acclimate to the area. Neglect to acclimate wood could result in gaps showing between boards at a later date, which is costly and problematic to address.
Things to Know
While the allure of a beautiful and expensive hardwood for your home is hard to ignore if the money is there, it is important to consider the overall value of the home, materials already used, and location. Over-spending on luxury materials will lead to an eventual loss if the house is later sold, as the market determines value. A home with expensive flooring and cheap materials in other areas will not sell for the sum of its parts, but will be valued as a whole.
Alternatives to Teak
Honduran Mahogany is thought to be a good alternative to teak, with a general janka rating of 800 for similar hardness. It comes in a wider range of colors, but color similar to teak is not hard to come by.
Supplies for the installation of teak flooring can range from $300 to $500 for about 500 square feet. Additional costs include removal and disposal of old flooring, and installation costs. Installation should not be a place where you cut corners on cost, as teak requires experienced workers to install it properly. The entire purchase can become an economic nightmare if care is not taken from the start.
Teak is a beautiful wood with a long history of use. It conjures up ideas of rustic luxury, from boats to temples to amazing works of art. As a flooring material, it provides both beauty and durability, and is especially good in humid areas where insects and water are issues. The rich reddish brown color is warm and inviting, and suits a variety of styles. Nevertheless, it is an expensive wood that poses some difficulty in proper installation. When choosing between teak and an alternative flooring material, consider the overall value of your home and plan accordingly.
Last updated on Mar 31, 2015
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