We hear this question often. Its a great question and an interesting story.
Teak is now the most widely used outdoor wood in the U.S. with a well deserved reputation for durability in any outdoor weather. It’s an excellent choice for outdoor furniture or structures if you want it to last.
Teak sold in the U.S. is almost exclusively plantation grown in Central and South America. These plantations grow teak in rows and harvest in 20 to 40 year rotations in most cases. The highest quality teak plantations have 60 to 80 year rotations, but they are a very small minority. Teak is marketed as a “sustainably harvested” alternative to exotic woods taken from rain forests. The teak industry is large and spends millions annually to market this environmental angle. It’s part truth, part fiction.
The truth is teak does take pressure off the native forests as a source of good quality wood. The fiction is a significant percentage of these plantations are grown on lands that were once forests. And, teak tree farms are not native to the Americas. They replace native biologically diverse lands with monoculture that provides minimal habitat for any type of wildlife.
So, it’s a mixed bag with the teak. Better than logging the Amazon, but not ideal.
What about Redwood? Well, Redwood was the outdoor wood of choice in the U.S. for most of the 20th century. Like teak, it is a beautiful wood with an excellent reputation for outdoor durability. It was available nationwide and used for anything outdoors until the early 1990’s. But, the Redwoods were overlogged and in 1990’s lumber production collapsed to 1/3rd the levels of prior decades. Redwood mostly disappeared from the east coast and central states.
Today, Redwood is available mostly in California and some other western states. The overall quality has dropped because the average size of trees being harvested is smaller than in prior decades.
In 1995, Old-Growth Again purchased and began to restore its Redwood forestland. We offer Redwood in 3 grades to distinguish it from the what is on the market today. Redwood, our least expensive grade, has a 12-year decay warranty and is comparable to what is mostly available on the market. Our Mature Redwood, our most popular grade, has a 20-year decay warranty and is comparable in durability to the highest grades of teak. And, our highest grade, the reclaimed Old-Growth Redwood, has a 30-year decay warranty. It exceeds the climate durability of any plantation grown teak.
It takes centuries of slow growth to make lumber that is almost decay proof. Only a natural forest can do that. We don’t harvest old-growth Redwood. Luckily many logs were left on the forest floor in the early to mid 1900’s to keep our furniture shop busy for many years. Yes, the logs sat on the forest floor for 50 to 100 years and are still in excellent shape!
Case closed: If you want the longest lasting wood available – go with Old-Growth Redwood. If you want to help restore native, biologically diverse forests and save money, have your outdoor furniture made from Redwood or Mature Redwood.
To read more about our forestry practices, please go to:
To read more about our three grades of Redwood, please go to:
As always, comments and questions are welcomed. Thank you for your continuing support.