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Teak vs Redwood: What’s the Better Choice for Home Furnishings and Wood Working Project

teak outdoor bench

All around the world, teak and redwood are two of the most desired and widely used wood species for special furniture pieces that can fit right in your home interior. While teak wood is a hardwood native to tropical Asia and Africa, redwood is a softwood that has made the United States its permanent home.

Teak and redwood also have numerous applications in various woodworking projects. They are both strong and durable, making them popular in construction, flooring, and a variety of other applications besides furniture manufacturing. Any woodworker would be required to have a working knowledge of both of these wonderful woods.

Brief Introduction

The primary distinction between teak and redwood is that the former is a hardwood, whereas the latter is a softwood. Teak is a highly durable wood that has a wide range of applications both indoors and outdoors. Redwood is also very durable, but its life is significantly reduced when it comes into direct contact with the ground.

History of Teak Wood

Teak (Tectona grandis) is a tree native to the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Indonesia, and Myanmar. The trees can reach heights of up to 40 metres and have trunk diameters of up to 5 metres. Teak has been used since the 7th century when wealthy people used it to build their homes, so you’re in great company if you choose a teak outdoor bench plus other beautiful furniture elements created to withstand the weather and regular wear and tear.

It’s also a type of wood that was popularised by the Dutch, who used it extensively during colonial Indonesia’s development. This wood has been used for centuries too in the construction of ships and boats due to its high durability and water resistance. Unfortunately, teak has become nearly extinct due to over-exploitation over the years.

As a result, original teak has become a prohibited wood, except in plantations. With this in mind, you must exercise caution when purchasing it, as there is a lot of illegally sourced teak floating around. No matter what you shop for, be it a fancy teak outdoor bench or a whole set of dining table with chairs, choose a reliable supplier to guarantee the sustainable sourcing.

History of Redwood

Redwood is a softwood that is considered part of the American heritage. The trees are among the tallest in the world, reaching heights of more than 75 meters and having trunks as large as 3,6 metres in diameter. This wood is a protected species, with forest reserves located throughout the United States.

Redwood is resistant to rot and insect attack, making it a highly durable type of wood. It repels insects by secreting repellent substances. It is used for indoor and outdoor furniture, as well as construction and other purposes. Redwood sapwood is not as durable as teak. However, if you are looking for a more decorative type of wood, the sapwood will suffice.

difference between teak and redwood outdoor bench
source: woodworkingtrade.com

Difference in Appearance

Teak comes in a variety of yellow and brown hues, and it darkens over time. The wood has a straight grain pattern that is occasionally wavy but has few knots. The surface of the teak is coarse and uneven. Because of the presence of natural oils, it has a slightly oily feel to it making the classic teak garden bench and other furnishings look beautiful and recognisable.

The darker the redwood, the more resistant it is to decay. As a result, when purchasing this wood, experts prefer the reddest wood available. Redwood sapwood is lighter in colour than heartwood and less resistant to decay. It is not unusual to find flaws and knots in the grain pattern of redwood. The ability of redwood to produce unique patterns is one of its distinguishing characteristics.

Difference in Durability

Teak is considered to be the world’s strongest and most durable wood. It produces some of the finest outdoor and indoor furniture available. Teak produces natural oil that protects the wood from the elements, pests, rot, and mould. Redwood is also very durable, but its lifespan is shorter. Sections where the wood directly touches the ground will only last up to 15 years. This wood’s life can be extended through pressure and chemical treatment.


Everyone likes to keep the yard clean and organized. Teak can be left as is without being finished and still look good. However, if you keep the teak in good condition, it will last a lifetime. It is not a difficult wood to maintain, but it must be cleaned on a regular basis and refinished with oil or varnish every few years.

Redwood is another low-maintenance wood. Use warm water and a soft-bristled brush to clean it, then wipe it clean. This cleans away any surface dirt and grime. You can also use a mild detergent to remove mildew. Redwood, like teak, may require refinishing every few years.

Workability and Applications

Most of the time, teak is an easy wood to work with. However, silica deposits can cause your tools to dull, requiring you to sharpen them more frequently. Glues and finishes can be easily added. However, you may find the surface of the wood to be too oily to accept either at first. In this case, a bit of solvent can be used to remove the oiliness. Teak can be used for a variety of outdoor and indoor items such as veneer, construction, carving, flooring, teak outdoor bench, carved and turned objects, and so on.

Redwood, on the other hand, is more workable and perfect even for beginner woodworkers due to its incredibly low hardness rating – lower than most softwoods. It bonds exceptionally well and holds paints and coatings – all things you can use to your advantage for pergolas, fences, gates, decking or furniture.

By Anthony Hendriks

The life of the party, Anthony is always up for spending some time with family and friends, when not blogging of course! Ever since a child, his love for books of mystery, race cars and travelling keeps on growing so it's difficult for him to single out that one all-time favourite hobby. If there's one thing he hates, though, it's having pictures taken but you already guessed that from his choice of plant photo for the blog.