Birch vs. Teak: Which One to Use?

Birch vs. Teak: Which One to Use?

Handyman's World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

If you are looking for a type of lumber to use for your next woodworking or construction project, both teak and birch are good options to consider. That said, there are some major differences between the two that need to be considered. These differences will determine which of these two you will use for a variety of projects around your home.

Let’s take a closer look at both of them to figure out which one you will use for your next project.

What Is Birch?

First, we have the birch tree. Here we are talking specifically about yellow birch, as it is one of the most common types in North America, both in terms of growth and use as construction lumber. This is a deciduous hardwood tree that grows from the eastern edge of Manitoba over to the Atlantic provinces, as well as in the Northeastern USA.

The lumber of the yellow birch tree has a tight and straight grain, along with an even and fine texture, although it may have some irregularities or waves, as well as some voids, gaps, and knots. The heartwood is generally yellowish-reddish-brown, with the sapwood being mostly white, although it is the heartwood that is usually used for construction purposes.

The yellow birch tree is quite hard and heavy, although easy to work with. Due to its hardness, it does resist scratching, denting, and other forms of physical damage quite well. In terms of the hardwoods that can be found in North America, the yellow birch is one of the stronger ones.

That said, it is not very pest or moisture-resistant. It is slightly more resistant to moisture than pests, but still not enough to qualify as being ideal for outdoor use. This is a type of wood that should be reserved for indoor use only, particularly for purposes such as decorative pieces, flooring, cabinets, low-end furniture, and a wide variety of utilitarian purposes. One of the biggest advantages here is that this wood is not very expensive.

What Is Teak?

We then have teak, which is a tropical hardwood tree that is found generally in mixed hardwood forests, usually in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, and some parts of the Caribbean and Africa. One of the most popular types of teak used for construction is Brazilian teak, so this will be the main focus for today. This is also known as cumaru.

The Brazilian teak tree has a straight grain and is also quite smooth. The grain is often interlocked in nature, and the wood doesn’t have many gaps, holes, or knots. Brazilian teak features a beautiful golden color that is very rich in nature.

It may sometimes be a bit darker brown than gold, but it still has a very lustrous and beautiful appearance. As this type of wood dries, it generally gets lighter in color.

One of the biggest advantages of teak is that it is very strong, dense, hard, and resistant to physical damage. At the same time, it is also extremely resistant to moisture, pets, mold, fungus, rotting, cracking, and more. It is, therefore, more than ideal for outdoor use, although it’s just as good indoors as well.

When it comes down to it, this is by far one of the most durable types of wood that can be found in the world, and it is ideal for many different purposes. It can be used for things like flooring, walling, cabinets, furniture, trim, paneling, and much more. The only thing stopping people from using more teak is that it is rather expensive.

Birch vs Teak: What Are the Differences?

Now that we know what both yellow birch and Brazilian teak are, let’s figure out what makes these two types of wood different from each other.


Yellow birch features a Janka hardness rating of 1,260 lbf, whereas Brazilian teak boasts a rating of 3,330 lbf, making it much more resistant to various types of physical damage such as denting and scratching.

This is not to say that yellow birch is weak by any means, as it is still quite hard, but Brazilian teak is just much harder.


Not only is Brazilian teak much harder than yellow birch, but also much heavier. Yellow birch comes in at about 43 lbs/ft3, while Brazilian teak lands at 68 lbs/ft3. As you can see, Brazilian teak is almost twice as heavy as birch. This does in part lead to its higher durability, but it can also make it much harder to work with.

Pest and Moisture Resistance

Another major difference between these two types of wood is that yellow birch is not very pest or moisture-resistant at all. This is just not a type of wood that you want to use for outdoor purposes. On the other hand, Brazilian teak is extremely resistant to the elements and is a rather perfect type of wood to use outdoors. Although it is kind of expensive, you could use it for outdoor furniture, sheds, patios, and anything else of the sort.

Overall Strength

As far as the overall strength of both of these types of wood is concerned, Brazilian teak is the far better one. If we take a look at various factors such as the compressive strength, modulus of elasticity, and modulus of rupture, Brazilian teak scores much higher on all of these fronts. It can bear more weight and is more structurally sound, and it takes much more to bend it as well.


Brazilian teak, as you can see, has plenty of advantages, but workability is not one of them. That hardness, durability, and great strength come at a price, which is limited workability. It takes a lot of power to cut and nail this type of wood. The interlocked grain of Brazilian teak also makes it hard to work with.

Appearance – Color and Grain

When compared to Brazilian teak, yellow birch features a very basic appearance. It has a light reddish-yellowish-brown appearance, with a straight and tight grain, and sometimes some voids or knots. Brazilian teak, on the other hand, features an extremely tight, straight, and often interlocked grain, combined with a rich brownish-golden color. Most people would say that Brazilian teak is by far the better-looking of the two.


Yellow birch should not cost you more than $10 per board foot, whereas Brazilian teak can cost you up to $30 per board foot.

When to Use Birch?

If you need a relatively affordable type of wood that works well for indoor purposes, yellow birch is a good option to consider. It works really well for furniture, cabinets, doors, windows, decorative pieces, utilitarian purposes, and more. It’s rather cheap, hard, and structurally sound. Just remember that it’s not very pest or moisture-resistant, so it is not ideal for outdoor use.

When to Use Teak?

If you need a type of wood that is exceedingly strong, durable, can bear a lot of weight, is structurally sound, and is ideal for outdoor purposes, then Brazilian teak is a great option. This type of wood works really well for outdoor furniture, sheds, and decks, as well as indoor flooring, windows, doors, decorative pieces, and more. Just remember that it is quite expensive.

Alternatives to Birch and Teak

Both yellow birch and Brazilian teak often have a fairly light color. If you are looking for a type of wood that is much darker, try going for something like ebony.


You should now know all of the major differences between birch and teak. Now that you know what they are, you should be able to choose the one that works best for your next big construction or woodworking project.