All wood changes color to some extent — particularly after its fibers have been freshly exposed. Teak takes color change to a whole new level. This species has a unique combination of resins and oils, promoting dramatic color change. (Interestingly, those same characteristics are precisely what make Teak such an exceptional choice for marine and other exterior applications.) Of course, we understand that resilient or not, no one really wants splotchy, streaky lumber for any application. In fact, second to its weather-safe characteristics, Teak is most appreciated for its appearance — Who doesn’t love its trademark golden brown with straight, consistent grain?!
Appearance of Freshly Milled Teak
Freshly milled Teak, even when it’s properly seasoned and kiln dried, will display quite a bit of color variation. As a Teak board’s surfaces are exposed for the first time to light and oxygen, it often appears streaky and blotchy. Many colors far from golden brown can come into play, including black, blue, green, and yellow. Upon seeing such a rainbow-variety of color, many customers will be disappointed and confused — that is, unless you prepare them ahead of time. And still, know that in our get-it-now society, waiting months for streaky Teak to fade can seem like an eternity.
Reason for Color Variation of Teak
Teak has this unique issue with color change due to the high amounts of a tectoquinone derivative that the species contains. This light-sensitive pigment is present in all Teak. Some people assume that only Teak that’s been dried unevenly or improperly will display the kind of color variation described above. But that hypothesis has been proven to be incorrect. Despite changing kiln schedules, Teak will always exhibit a degree of discoloration. Regardless of the amount of time and temperature in the kiln, the only thing that influences the fading of Teak is good, old fashioned T-I-M-E. There is no other way.
How To Encourage Faster Fading of Teak
During the necessary waiting time, the number one factor in the fading of Teak is exposure to light. Oxidation alone may influence darkening, but only light will make the streaks disappear. Sometimes this fading can take months, but the most significant change will occur within the first few weeks. What that means for you is that by exposing your Teak boards to direct sunlight, you’ll be able to speed the process up a bit. Be aware, though, that just like when your skin turns color in the sun, any lines or overlapping between your Teak board and the sun will cause a disruption in the color. If you’re able to give your Teak boards a sun tan before installing them, our guess is that you’ll have happier customers who are delighted with their new Teak deck!