Acacia and teak are two exotic hardwood varieties. They're both imported to the United States as furniture, fixtures and flooring, among other items. Most lumber yards that deal in exotic hardwoods commonly stock teak and acacia lumber in random widths, lengths and thicknesses. Acacia and teak are both are used almost interchangeably, with some differences in cost, aesthetics and durability.
Even though there are over 1,000 species worldwide, the bulk of the acacia used domestically comes from two varieties: Australian Blackwood and Hawaiian Koa.
Some dealers refer to teak generically, but only one variety, Burmese teak, is widely grown and distributed, originating from plantations in Central and South America.
Acacia is shrub-like tree; it takes years to reach maturity, and is generally regarded as an invasive species in many locations. Old-growth teak is somewhat elusive and hard to find. It yields wider boards than acacia. Contemporary teak is harvested at an early age. Neither teak or acacia are considered endangered.
Density and Hardness
The differences in hardness between acacia and teak are insignificant. Acacia from Blackwood has a density rating of 1,160 and from Hawaian Koa it ranks at 1,170 on the Janka hardness scale. Teak ranks just below acacia woods at 1,070. For the sake of comparison, domestic red oak is harder than both of them, ranking at 1,290.
Characteristics and Aesthetics
- More varieties than teak, with more variations in grain pattern.
- Interlocked or curved grain patterns that can shear.
- Reddish-brown tint that won't darken with age.
- Not considered as exclusive as teak.
- Accepts stain better than teak.
- More likely to appear in big box stores or as a kit item.
- Requires a top-coat finish.
- Single, straight-grain patterns with few variations.
- Light-brown color fades to chocolate over time.
- Oily-feel and texture.
- Doesn't require a top coat as the natural oils in the wood protects it.
- Dense, tight grain pattern less likely to shear than acacia.
- Less likely to warp or crack than acacia.
- More often used in fine-furniture than acacia.
- The gold standard of wood for exterior durability with or without sealant.
Teak and acacia have similar durability quality when applied as flooring. The major difference is in cost and aesthetics; acacia costs less than half the price of teak.
- Swirling, wavy patterns and outstanding color variations create a more complex appearance than teak.
- Can be polished to a higher sheen than teak, primarily because of a recommended top coat of polyurethane.
- Resembles other exotic hardwoods.
- Rich, natural dark color adds warmth and consistency to a room.
- Can be used universally throughout a home, interior or exterior.
- Can be used as-is, without a top coat product.
- Has more natural moisture resistance than any other hardwood.
- One of the most expensive of all flooring materials.
- Plow & Hearth: Good, Better, and Best Woods for Outdoor Furniture
- Today's Homeowner: Choosing Durable Wood for a Garden Bench and Outdoor Furniture
- The Wood Database: Austrailian Blackwood
- The Wood Database: Koa
- Tiny Timbers: Janka Hardness Chart
- Exotic Lumber: Retail Price List:
- The Wood Database: Teak
- Woodshop News: Koa is Highly Sought and High-Priced
- Through The Woods: Wood Flooring Catalog
- Your Flooring Resource: What Is Teak Wood Flooring?
- Pumbing Supply: How to Care for Teak
Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.