Between constantly changing export regulations and logging bans on Myanmar, the Teak market is constantly in flux. As one of the most significant importers of Teak in the U.S., J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber keeps a constant watch on these issues and tries to keep as much of an inventory of Teak on hand as possible; however, we can neither predict nor control the future of the Teak market. We also believe in our customers and helping them determine quality Teak. As many downsides as there are to the limitations on Teak plaguing the boating industry, there is an upside for home builders and those in other industries: this previously hard-to-source lumber species is now more available than ever.
Why Home Builders Have Access to Teak
“I thought you said Teak availability was a problem?” you may be wondering. Well, it is, depending on your needs. For boat builders, whose needs require an above-grade variation of Teak, sourcing Teak is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult. Each shipment of Teak contains only a small percentage of FEQ Teak that can be used for marine applications. However, as a by-product, there’s plenty of Teak coming in with each shipment that’s perfectly fabulous for use in other types of applications. Considering the sourcing difficulties facing Teak in general, it’s significant that there’s plenty of Teak here on the ground in the U.S., waiting for home builders to snatch up. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.
How Boat Builders Select Teak
“If nothing is wrong with this Teak, why aren’t boat builders buying it?” Boat builders not only have very high standards of what they can accept for their uses, but they also have very specific requirements for each application. Sometimes they need boards for longer covering boards; other times, they need several boards with matching grain patterns and coloring for steps. As a boat builder looks through a given stack of FEQ Teak, they may pull maybe 1 of 10 boards that will suit their needs, but then those other remaining 9 boards? They’re fair game for anyone else. Another boat builder might choose 6 boards out of a pack of 10, leaving 4 available for you.
Perhaps it’s a single pin knot or bullnose profile that gets a board passed over. But usually, there’s nothing wrong with the boards — they simply don’t meet the needs of that particular builder and application.
For your application, perhaps the pin knot can be easily cut out; however, doing so would make the board shorter than what a boat builder’s application requires. Most of these “leftover” boards would be considered not only FEQ but “above grade” for any other industry.
Of course, not all Teak is above grade, but even lesser-grade Teak can be suitable for your applications as a home builder. More about that in our next post.
Learn More About the Lumber Industry
• Understanding the Complexities Underlying the Pricing of Lumber
• Lumber Explained: Graying, Checking & Color Matching
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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