Hidden Treasure: How To Identify Teak Furniture

Whether you are liquidating an estate or looking to sell a few pieces of furniture, knowing if you have something of value is important. If your furniture is from the mid-century time period, some of them may be made of teak, in which case you might want to invest in having them appraised.

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Why is teak furniture so valuable?

Teak furniture was wildly popular during the 1950s-1970s, due in large part to World War I and II. Soldiers serving in the Pacific brought back large quantities of teak wood as souvenirs. This influx of teak wood meant it was not only readily available for furniture designers, but also inexpensive. Teak was introduced to the United States when mass produced furniture was just getting underway, so affordable construction materials meant the furniture prices could be kept low. Due to this extreme over-harvesting, teak has since become very rare and protected. This has led to a very limited amount of new production teak furniture, which in turn has made vintage teak pieces highly coveted. Another draw to teak wood is the fact that its natural oils help protect it against pests and decay.

How to identify teak furniture?

When trying to identify teak furniture, there are a few things to look for. Older teak often has a reddish tone on the woods’ surface from the decades of patina on the surface. Newer teak, particularly that from the 1970s-1980s, has a yellow-orange tone that has become synonymous with teak furniture today. That being said, teak coloring and grain can vary greatly depending on the species; most teak comes from South Asia, including countries like India, Thailand, and Myanmar. Each of these species’ has a different coloring and wood grain. If you want to know for certain if your piece is teak, take it to an appraiser for a valuation.

What is the difference between teak and mahogany?

Many people get confused between mahogany and teak, though there are subtle ways to tell the difference if you know what to look for. Old growth teak often has the reddish color similar to that of mahogany, but the similarities don’t go much further. Teak wood is fairly heavy as far as woods go, and incredibly hard. Mahogany is also moderately heavy, but a much softer wood.

If you’re still unsure if the items you’re liquidating are teak or another type of wood, call Stress Free Estates at 727.308.0590. Our estate professionals are highly trained in the vintage and high-end furniture business; we can help evaluate your pieces to determine if you’ve got a diamond in the rough [Related: Sell My Furniture].