Teak vs. Beech: Which One to Use?

Teak vs. Beech: Which One to Use?

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If you need a good type of wood to use for construction or woodworking projects, both teak and beech are fantastic options to consider. That said, they are fairly different from one another, and these differences are important for you to know.

Let’s figure out what makes them different, so you can choose between them for your next big project.

What Is Teak?

The teak tree is a tropical hardwood that grows in mixed hardwood forests. It can be found in India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, and other regions in Southeast Asia. It can also be found in some parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and in South America, mainly in Brazil.

Perhaps the most popular type of teak to use for construction-related purposes is the variety from Brazil, also known as cumaru, so this is our main focus for today.

This wood features a straight grain, although it may be interlocked at times. It also has quite a smooth texture, along with very limited knots, holes, and gaps. Teak usually has a rich golden color, sometimes a bit darker brown than gold. However, it’s always very lustrous, and when it dries, it usually gets lighter in color.

A big benefit of this type of wood is that it is extremely strong, durable, hard, and dense. It is resistant to all types of physical damage, as well as the elements, including pests, mold, fungus, moisture, and decay. This type of wood is fantastic for both indoor and outdoor use, although it can be quite expensive. However, it works well for furniture, floors, walls, cabinets, shelves, panels, and decorative pieces.

What Is Beech?

We then have the beech tree, with two main types existing in the world, the European and the North American Beech tree. Seeing as we are in North America, we will be focusing on the variety from this region, and this type of tree grows in the eastern parts of Canada and the United States.

This wood has a very straight grain with a uniform texture, moderate luster, and a good deal of voids, knots, and gaps. This type of wood usually has a pale cream color with a slight brownish or pinkish hue.

Beech as a type of wood is tough and durable, and resistant to many types of physical damage. However, it is not ideal in terms of pest or element resistance, as it is not very moisture-resistant at all, and therefore is not ideal for outdoor use.

It is however very good for indoor use. It works well for furniture, crates, boxes, pallets, turned objects, general lumber, veneer, musical instruments, and flooring in areas that don’t see a lot of moisture. People also tend to like this wood as it is quite cost-effective, even though it doesn’t look great.

Teak vs Beech: What Are the Differences?

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

Hardness

Brazilian teak features a Janka hardness rating of 3,330 lbf, whereas North American beech has a rating of 1,300 lbf. Teak is therefore much more resistant to denting, scratching, and physical damage of all kinds. Most people would therefore choose it for things like flooring, furniture, and more.

Density

American beech features a density of roughly 45 lbs/ft3, while Brazilian teak features a density of 68 lbs/ft3, making it the much heavier of the two. This does partially lead to it being a bit more durable, but this heavier weight does also make it a bit harder to work with.

Pest and Moisture Resistance

One of the biggest advantages of Brazilian teak is that it is extremely resistant to moisture and pests, making it a fantastic option for outdoor use. However, American beech is not very pest or moisture-resistant and really shouldn’t be used outdoors. Therefore, between the two, teak is the only one you could use for outdoor purposes without fear of it degrading too quickly.

Overall Strength

If we examine all of the factors that determine just how strong wood is, Brazilian teak is the winner on all fronts. Brazilian teak features a higher modulus of elasticity, modulus of rupture, and a much higher compressive strength than American beech. This means that teak is more durable, more structurally sound, and has higher weight-bearing capabilities.

Workability

American Beech tends to be quite easy to work with in general. It saws, glues, nails, and paints well. Brazilian teak on the other hand is so heavy, hard, and dense, and it also has an interlocked grain, all of which can make it very hard to work with. In fact, teak is one of the hardest types of wood out there to work with.

Appearance – Color and Grain

Most people would say that American beech has a very boring appearance. It’s certainly not something that most people would use for its aesthetic qualities. However, Brazilian teak on the other hand is known for its beauty, as it boasts a beautiful golden color and a smooth texture that people really seem to love.

Cost

American beech can cost you anywhere between $8 and $10 per board foot, with Brazilian teak possibly costing between $25 and $35 per board foot. Teak is a very high-quality type of wood, so you will end up paying a lot of money for it.

When to Use Teak?

Brazilian teak is one of those types of wood that, as long as you can afford it, can be used for virtually any purpose. It works really well for both indoor and outdoor purposes, it’s extremely strong, it can bear a lot of weight, and it looks really nice too. Generally speaking, you can use teak for anything that you would use wood for, as long as you are willing to pay.

When to Use Beech?

Beech is still a very structurally sound, hard, and durable type of wood. It works well for a wide variety of indoor purposes. It can be used as basic lumber, for millwork and turned objects, for walls, for floors in low-moisture areas, cabinets, shelves, decorative pieces, and more. Just don’t use it outside, because it’s not very moisture-resistant.

Alternatives to Teak and Beech

Between beech and teak, you have options that work well for both indoor and outdoor use, and for purposes of all sorts. However, what you don’t have is a type of wood that is very rich and dark in color. If you want something with a different aesthetic appeal, options such as ebony and mahogany are good to consider.

Summary

As you can see, both teak and beech make good options for a variety of purposes. Both are very high-quality, durable, and hard types of wood, with the biggest difference being that teak is far more moisture-resistant than beech.