Good News for Home Builders: Teak Is Waiting for You

Teak dock

Teak Deck

Logging bans and increased export regulations can affect the lumber market in interesting ways, and the changes in Myanmar are no exception to that rule. In this instance, the benefit falls in favor of home builders who use Teak: This formerly hard-to-obtain wood just became easier to source.


If you know anything about the Teak market, it’s primarily driven by boat builders. As you might expect, the boat-building industry has extremely high standards for the Teak that they can use, due in part by the weather their products must endure and in part by the high-end pricing of their products. The large volume of Teak that must be imported in order to provide enough high-quality Teak for the boat builders includes plenty of Teak unusable to boat builders. That “leftover” Teak is here in the U.S., ready to go for home builders.

Teak Windows and Trim

Teak Windows and Trim

High Quality “Leftovers”

The Teak that’s unusable for boat builders is not necessarily low quality, nor even of lesser quality than what the boat builders have chosen from the shipment. Sometimes, boat builders just have specific requirements in view, requiring especially long or wide boards or only boards with a particular grain pattern. (For instance, boat steps will require an easy-to-match vertical grain pattern for each step.)

Sometimes the boat builder will use only 1 in every 10 boards, depending on how specific his needs are. The remaining FEQ Teak looks great and is available to you. Other times, a small pin knot can determine a board’s unsuitability for sea, but for many land-loving applications, it will work just fine. The knot can often be easily cut out, if you don’t need a very long cut. Typically, any of this “leftover” Teak would be considered above-grade for all other industries, too.

Lesser Grades and European Sizes

Teak Deck

Teak Deck

Of course, not all Teak is going to be FEQ. Some will be rejected, because they are of lesser grades, since most shipping containers include a percentage of B grade material. The price break really won’t be that significant (maybe 10%), but that lesser grade Teak lumber is also here, not across the globe nor with a 10 months wait before it’s here. As home builders and those in other industries continue to take an interest in Teak, we’ll be able to continue to offer greater variety.

For instance, we currently reject many narrow pieces which are readily accepted in Europe (and which are perfect for trim and paneling). As we continue to see growing interest in Teak from home builders and others outside the boat-building industry, we as importers can expand the sizes of Teak we purchase, increasing our customers’ options. We look forward to seeing the U.S. Teak market continue to grow and our inventory correspondingly grow to accommodate these changes.

At J. Gibson McIlvain, we anticipate market trends and spend time evaluating what it will mean for the lumber industry, at large, and for our customers, in particular. We make it our business to make recommendations based on a wide body of information, and our long-time customers expect such thorough service. We look forward to offering you the same kind of quality lumber and service that we’ve been known to offer, for centuries.

picking lumberJ. Gibson McIlvain Company

Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company ( is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.

As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.

Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.

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