Teak Color and Sunlight

Like some other hardwoods, Teak has an interesting response to sunlight. June 14, 2014

I have recently purchased some FSC Mexican teak and I'm puzzled, shocked and surprised about its variation, especially after any machining. Far from being your typical clear golden amber clear grain teak you see from South Asia, I'm seeing dark stripes, orange splotches, and dark wood that looks more like walnut than teak!

I'd love to know more about why there is such color variation, but more importantly what can be done, if anything, to temper things out a bit so that my client doesn't reject the island countertop I'm making for it being too loud. I have to say I've never worked with a more fascinating wood. It changes colors right after machining before your very eyes.

Forum Responses
(Forestry Forum)
From Contributor M:
Is the teak you have Teconda Grandis or another species marketed as Mexican Teak? I have seen teak (Teconda Grandis) have many vibrant colors when freshly machined and it typically tempers down to a fairly uniform golden tan over time. A customer had a large architectural millwork job several years ago that required a lot of teak. His concern was similar to yours. After several frustrating hours of color sorting through a truckload of teak, we tried to machine several pieces and put them in the sun. They became fairly uniform in color after a few hours. That may not work if the species is different.

From the original questioner:
The wonders of teak seem to never cease. You are absolutely correct, through time the coloration does appear to mellow out with exposure to the sun. That is before oxidation sets in and the teak starts its journey towards that grey weathered look! The biggest problem I had was getting rid of dark streaks, which fade just a bit with exposure to sun. Even more surprising, with careful machining I was able to actually plane some of the streaks out, exposing honey colored heart wood underneath the streaks.

What I haven't been able to figure out is why some wood has an extreme amount of dark streaking, almost to the point where the wood takes on more of a walnut appearance than classic teak. I purchased enough of this to make a bench, and I'll be interested to see what this looks like with finish oil on it. Anyway, thanks for your suggestions, I was able to sort and suntan my way to a consistent colored kitchen countertop!