Teak (Tectona) is a tropical hardwood in the mint family that grows in South and Southeast Asia as well as in Central America. It is a high-quality, expensive wood with distinctive characteristics and a special appearance. Teak are large trees that produce wood popular in the shipbuilding and furniture industries.
Examine the wood, using all your senses. The grain in teak wood is fine, close and lightly toned. Teak does not splinter, so it feels smooth to the touch and will not snag fabric or cause a splinter. Teak is dense; teak furniture feels heavy and sturdy. Teak has a delicate fragrance that comes from the oils embedded in the wood.
Consider the colour of the wood. Teak wood has a distinctive colour. Teak is golden and retains it bright gold tones if sealed. Exposed to the elements, teak turns grey or silver-grey, and can become black if damaged by water.
Evaluate the use of the wood; function is a good indication of wood type. Teak is used for outdoor furniture and boating products. Patio chairs, boat decks, park benches and pool decks are often made from teak wood. Dating furniture and other products can give a clue as to the type of wood. Teak was popular in the 1950s and 1960s in Scandanavian design furniture. Vintage modernist furniture is often teak.
Ask about pricing and country of origin. Teak is an expensive hardwood. Price can help identify wood as teak, although lower quality wood can be overpriced and misrepresented as teak. Teak comes from India, Indonesia, Central America and Africa.
Color photographs of woods can be found in woodworking books or on wood finishing websites. Some home improvement stores have samples of wood types that will help identify different types of wood.