Teak boat deck

Teak for boat use

Teak has been the preferred material for boat building for centuries. But at a time when sustainability and environmental protection are more important than ever, we must ask ourselves: How can we use this proven material responsibly? In this article we discuss the use of teak in boat building.

The traditional role of teak in boat building:

Traditionally, teak wood with closely spaced annual rings was used for boat building. These rings indicate slow growth and therefore high density and durability of the wood. However, such “old” teak is now rare and often associated with problems such as illegal logging. The import of illegally felled wood is also prohibited by law.

The origin of teak: plantation wood and recycled teak

Today, the majority of teak comes from either plantations or recycled sources, providing an environmentally friendly alternative. However, it is important to note that the traditional qualities with the closely spaced annual rings are often not achieved with plantation wood. This is because plantation wood is often cut after just 15 years, resulting in lower quality.
The teak for our decking, on the other hand, comes from trees that are between 20 and 25 years old. As a result, the floorboards already have a significantly higher content of the desired oils such as rubber, which make teak more durable.

The Importance of Pruning:

When choosing teak for boats, the type of cut is crucial. When cutting the reef (radial cut - standing annual rings), the annual rings run parallel to the short side of the board profile, which offers an even texture and high stability. This is the best and most valuable cut because wood cut this way technically has the best properties and can only be cut from a small portion of the tree trunk. The half-reef cut (cross-section), on the other hand, consists primarily of standing annual rings and can also be suitable for boat building. The so-called Flader cut (tangential cut - lying annual rings - Flads) with lying annual rings is generally not used for boat building.


Annual ring alignment

Water absorption and swelling/shrinkage behaviour
Tangential flap cut Lying annual rings – Flads High water absorption and therefore high swelling and shrinkage behavior
cross-section Half Rift Medium water absorption and therefore medium swelling and shrinkage behavior
Radial section Standing annual rings – rift Low water absorption and therefore less swelling and shrinkage behavior

The importance of wood fiber:

The orientation of the wood fibers in teak is essential for boat building. Well-aligned fibers ensure stability and longevity of the wood, which is particularly important in damp and changeable conditions. In addition, the correct fastening of the wood is absolutely necessary. In shipbuilding, permanently elastic adhesives are often used for this purpose and are applied to the surface. Sikaflex should be mentioned here, which is considered the standard for this application.

Our sustainable teak:

The Betterwood We rely on teak from sustainably managed plantations. Our teak meets the high requirements of terrace construction. However, we do not sort our wood according to special cuts or the requirements of boat building. If you want to use our wood for your boat project, we recommend ordering sufficient additional wood. Also check out our sorting criteria

And finally ...

Thanks to its excellent technical properties and natural durability, teak is the first choice for wooden decks in the maritime sector. However, due to centuries of intensive use of the wood, teak from our planet's primary forests has become a rare commodity that needs to be protected. Alternatively, other deck coverings are often offered in the boat sector. Below is a list:

  • Synthetic teak: imitates the look of teak
  • PVC: A versatile material that is well suited for decking and is available in a variety of colors and textures.
  • Cork: An environmentally friendly and non-slip material that feels comfortable underfoot.
  • EVA foam: Lightweight, shock-absorbing and non-slip, commonly used in yacht decks.
  • Rubber: A sturdy and non-slip option suitable for harsh conditions.
  • Natural fibers: Materials such as bamboo.
  • Aluminum.
  • Fiberglass: A strong and durable option used in many boat building applications.
  • Rubber: Elastic and resistant to UV rays and salt water.
  • Wood: In addition to teak, other woods such as mahogany or ash are also used for deck coverings.

If you don't want to miss out on the naturalness of wood, you should make sure to use teak from sustainable plantations that is at least 20 years old. Even if it cannot compete with the time-honored giants that were cut from the tropical forests in the long past, it still has a comparatively high level of durability against moisture and salt water compared to other woods - when installed correctly.

For specific questions about our teak offering or choosing the right wood for your project, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have.

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