Wood alternatives to Teak

Discussion in 'Materials' started by Man Overboard, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. Man Overboard
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    Man Overboard Tom Fugate

    Does anybody have experience with any of the following woods, used as an alternative to Teak for decking?
    Black Locust
    Iroco
    Ipe
    I am most interested in Black Locust as it is highly resistant to decay, and is much cheaper than teak.(USA) It is almost twice as resistant to wear. I know that Ipe is almost twice as heavy as teak, but it is more than 3 times as hard. In theory, it could be cut 1/3 as thick for a weight savings, and have about the same wear characteristics Black Locust falls in the middle of the two for hardness and weight. Does anybody know of decay resistance test that have been done on these woods? A comparison wood be nice.
     
  2. A Fn Noob
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    A Fn Noob Tinkerer

    Its interesting you posted this, I was thinking about this the other day. I lived in the Mtns of Western North Carolina for about 10 years, and burned mainly Oak and Ash for firewood in the really cold weather... Anyway, I was cutting firewood on my property and spotted this log half buried in mud in the bottom of a ravine(in a small creek). I noticed it was there for several years like that. I pulled it out of the mud, cut it into 20" pieces, and split it to see what it was. The wood was only wet on the surface, the inside was dry as a bone. A friend native to the area told me it was "Locust". People made deck posts with it, and Ive seen several 100-150 year old houses with Locust logs supporting the beams underneath the house.... The wood that I split was not as heavy as other hardwoods either. I think that this type of Locust may be unique to the area. It certainly is not affected by moisture at all!
     
  3. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

  4. EJC
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    EJC New Member

    this is an interesting thread, as teak is a slow growing tropical hardwood that is used as a common deck material for boats. however, coming from an environmental angle, the fact that it is a tropical hardwood raises questions as to the suitability of teak for use as a popular decking material. Robinia pseudoacacia (Black Locust) is also a hardwood - would the same concerns apply?
     
  5. A Fn Noob
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    A Fn Noob Tinkerer

  6. Man Overboard
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    Man Overboard Tom Fugate

    After studying the info presented here, and on the wooden boat forum, this is what seems to be the consensus. Black Locust is certainly extremely durable, more so than teak. Because of its weight it is best used in a deck as a veneer, as apposed to thicker lay-up used as structural support. It is difficult to find large quantities in long fairly clear pieces, although for a large project, I think an experienced sawyer could harvest trees specifically for this purpose. It does not bend easily, but it takes well to steam bending; which means it would have to be laid up dry and allowed to take a set before gluing down. (Unless of course you chose a non curved lay-up) Ipe is another alternative, except it is a very dark wood. In the tropics, I think it would make for a very hot deck.
     
  7. eyes
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    eyes Junior Member

    The problem with Ipe, it's that is heavier than most woods and you got to think of that before adding more weight to your boat. It's like filling your boat with stones.
    I live in the Dominican Republic and work in the furniture manufacturing field. This country imports a lot of wood from all the world, specially from South America. I will try to check for wood options and post some more for you later.
     

  8. Man Overboard
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    Man Overboard Tom Fugate

    Eyes,

    I agree that Ipe needs to be used with caution do to the weight. It probably wouldn’t be advisable to use it as a structural part of the deck. Often times teak is laid, as a veneer (1/8 to 1/4 inch). The problem with thin teak decks is that there is little wood to account for wear or refinishing. Teak is in the mid range of woods for wear characteristics. It is most notable because of its low expansion and contraction combined with very good decay resistance. And in the case where it is used as structural portion of the deck, it is fairly strong. With the excellent adhesives that are available today I am most interested in a deck laid as a veneer, primarily to keep the weight down. Ipe is interesting because it is more than three times as hard as teak perpendicular to the grain. (Teak 1000psi @12 %; Ipe 3060psi @ 12%)As far as weight; if you laid ¼ inch veneered deck lets say 500 square feet. The Ipe deck would weigh 665 lbs. A teak deck would weigh 396 lbs (wood only, not including gap between runs) You have to decide if 269 lbs is worth 3 times the wear resistance, and three times the resistance to denting. (Ipe weighs 64 lbs per cubic foot, Teak 38 lbs per cubic foot, and Black Locust 48 lbs per cubic foot). Incidentally Black Locust at 2 ½ times as hard as teak, would only weigh 500 lbs. Keep in mind that in addition to high decay resistance, and hardness perpendicular to the grain, all three of these woods have very low expansion and contraction do to changes in moisture content.
     
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