Using recycled teak can have both aesthetic and environmental benefits, making it a good choice for flooring, furniture, and built-ins in a home. Numerous companies work with recycled or “reclaimed” teak, and offer an array of products, along with certification to confirm the source of the wood. People with concerns about sourcing can look up certifying organizations to learn more about how they audit suppliers and determine whether a company can use their labeling.
A common source for recycled teak is old structures, including homes, barns, and storehouses. These structures, especially in the tropics, can have very large, broad planks. It is possible to use the planks as they are, or to cut them down into different sizes for various products. Railway cars, shipping containers, and boats may also have teak fittings, and it can be possible to carefully remove and reuse the wood in other projects.
Aesthetically, recycled teak often has a closer and more beautiful grain. Historically, people selected mature trees that often grew slowly, developing very strong, colorful wood with a tight, even grain. Teak grown on plantations is bred for speed and harvested early. It may be less strong, and can have a coarse grain and less attractive look. People may also prefer aged and distressed wood, like that of unfinished recycled teak for projects where they want things to have a rustic look, rather than a more formal and polished appearance.
Environmentally, the clear advantage of recycled teak is that people do not need to cut down new trees to meet the need for wood. This tropical wood was once heavily harvested, and environmental organizations raised concerns about relying on it as a source of timber. When people reuse wood, living trees can stay intact. This contributes habitat for animals, in addition to keeping the environment healthier and cleaner, by allowing trees to remain in place as natural air scrubbers.
It's also possible that the wood will not have to travel far to reach the end destination. Cutting down on time spent in transit can make products more environmentally sustainable, by reducing fossil fuel use. Using recycled products from within a community can also promote job creation for salvage companies working on old buildings, keeping money in a local economy and improving the economic outlook for a community. By purchasing recycled teak saved from historical buildings, people can directly give back to their communities while also exhibiting environmental prudence.