Changes to export regulations and logging bans in Myanmar are starting to have a major impact on the Teak market. Interestingly, these political changes abroad can have some beneficial side effects for home builders here at home. That’s because Teak lumber materials, which were once pretty hard to come by, have become much more accessible.
The main demand for Teak lumber comes from the boat building industry. That’s because Teak is an unparalleled exotic hardwood that is ideal for use in marine applications. Naturally, only the highest caliber of Teak lumber would be acceptable for building boats due to the weather conditions which the boards will be subjected to out on the water. Because premier quality lumber is so vital to the industry, lumber dealers who supply boat builders with Teak must import the boards in large quantities. That’s because whatever material comes into the lumber yard will have to be meticulously examined. Only the very best boards will be salable to boat builders.
As a result of this process, there will be plenty of “excess” Teak lumber left at the lumber yards just waiting for a buyer. That’s where home builders come into the picture. There could also be a market for other boat builders who are looking for boards with slightly different specifications than those who first come to the lumber yard to search for the Teak boards which they want for their latest projects.
Looking at Leftover Teak as an Opportunity Rather than an Obstacle
Leftover Teak lumber may seem to be a bit of an inconvenience. It could end up sitting in storage for a while without getting purchased. Or, if a dealer is able to find the right niche market, it may end up being bought up piece by piece. The secret is knowing what different buyers are looking for when it comes to choosing lumber made from this unique hardwood species.
Just because one boat buyer has already come through your lumber yard, picked through your supply of Teak, and left with a certain number of boards, it doesn’t mean that the Teak lumber you have left behind is necessarily inferior. Boat building is a very specialized craft. Different vessels and even different sections of the boat that are made of Teak lumber don’t all require the same exact type of boards.
For example, say a boat builder is looking for boards to use in making stairs for the boat. In this particular case, he is going to want to find boards with a certain grain pattern design. This specification is more exact than a majority of other applications which builders have to consider.
In order to get the steps to have an aesthetically pleasing appearance, the boat builder will probably want them all to have a bullnose profile. This means that one edge and the face of the board will have to have a vertical grain design pattern. So he’ll have to pass over boards that have, for example, a cathedral pattern. There’s nothing actually wrong with the boards that are passed over, they’re just not the right match for this one type of application.
So what’s to become of all the perfectly good FEQ Teak lumber that’s left after this boat builder leaves the lumber yard? We’ll take a more in-depth look at the answer to that question in the next article in our series.
Learn More About the Lumber Industry
• Government Intervention Can Hurt Lumber & Forestry Industries
• Millwork: Our Obsession with Quality Control
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods and has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums. For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call Monday-Friday toll free (800) 638-9100 to speak with one of their representatives.
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