The debate on which one is better between teak and mahogany didn’t start today. The two are some of the most highly regarded hardwoods in the woodworking industry.
They are strong, durable, and weather-resistant. Above all, both boast strong aesthetic appeal, with elegant brown colors and striking grain patterns.
So, which one should you pick if you can only choose one of them? The following comprehensive comparison should make the often difficult decision a little easier.
Teak vs Mahogany: Which is the Better Hardwood for a Woodworking Project?
Generally, teak wood is better as it can last twice as long as mahogany and requires less maintenance. Teak is also slightly more beautiful (according to most woodworkers) and has a more attractive texture. As a result, teak makes more exclusive furniture and is more expensive than mahogany.
Teak vs Mahogany: The Basics
The following is a brief overview of each wood type to set the grounds for a head-to-head comparison of the two.
What’s Teak Wood?
Teak (Tectona grandis) is a tropical hardwood from the family Lamiaceae. It’s a large, deciduous tree that grows in mixed forests. It’s indigenous to four countries; Laos, Burma, India, and Thailand.
- Burmese teak
- Indonesian teak
- Indian teak
- African teak
- Thailand teak
- Name: Teak (Tectona grandis)
- Origin: India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Burma
- Color: Teak is physically attractive. It has a yellow-brown to dark golden brown heartwood with greyish or white sapwood.
- Grain and Texture: Straight grain with uneven texture. It has a medium luster with an oily feel.
- Physical properties: Teak is moderately hard and extremely durable, with low stiffness and shock resistance. It has a moderate bending strength.
Teak is primarily used in the furniture industry. Teak wood furniture is beautiful and strong. Teak furniture is also very durable.
Additionally, teak has applications in flooring, high-class joinery, and shipbuilding. It’s also an excellent choice for plywood and paneling.
What’s Mahogany Wood?
- Origin: Mahogany trees are semi-evergreen hardwood from the Meliaceae family, native to South America. They can grow to 200 feet and easily last 350+ years.
- Types: There are more than a dozen types of mahogany. However, the most common species are African mahogany, Honduras mahogany, and American mahogany.
- Color: Mahogany is dark reddish-brown wood. However, the deep reddish-brown color fades to a light to dark brown shade when polished.
- Grain and texture: Mahogany has a fine to medium texture and straight, even grain structure that sands easily.
- Uses: Common uses of mahogany lumber include making indoor and outdoor furniture, and luxury ship decking. Genuine mahogany wood makes beautiful, quality furniture.
Teak vs Mahogany: Head to Head
Now that you have a little background information on each wood type, the following is a head-to-head comparison to help you pick the best option for your next project.
Mahogany is slightly more appealing than teak. Granted, teak wood is more exclusive, and the dark golden brown color gives it a luxurious feel.
However, mahogany wood has the coveted deep reddish-brown color plus an enviable grain structure that looks like growth rings that don’t cut each other.
2. Grain patterns
Both teak and mahogany have a linear grain pattern or what most people call a straight grain. However, mahogany’s fine grain pattern is more appreciated and slightly more eye-catching.
Mahogany wood also has a softer texture than teak. Both have beautiful grains, though.
Teak is far more durable than mahogany. Although mahogany furniture is also very durable, and capable of lasting several decades, teak products can last a lifetime or longer.
Teak’s exceptional durability qualities are thanks to its natural oil content that allows it to resist decay, rot, and general degradation.
4. Weather resistance
Teak is more weather resistant than mahogany. Its natural oil allows it to withstand wet and cold weather better. It can also withstand prolonged exposure to the sun better.
Unfortunately, mahogany requires significant treatment to achieve the same level of weather resistance.
5. Insect and pest resistance
Unfortunately, both teak and mahogany are not impervious to pests and insects. However, teak has a slight edge here too. Although genuine mahogany resists most pests, borers are a thorn in the flesh for softer varieties.
Teak is mostly susceptible to teak defoliators and white grubs, but these are easier to control.
6. Strength and density
Both mahogany and teak wood furniture are very strong. However, teak is significantly stronger. For instance, the Brazilian teak is rated 3450 lbf on the Janka scale, making it one of the hardest wood types.
Meanwhile, the African mahogany, considered one of the hardest mahoganies, is about 1070 lbf.
Unfortunately, sustainable teak and mahogany species are hard to come by; both are on the endangered species list.
Like mahogany, teak is under serious threat due to uncontrolled deforestation. Therefore, the forest cover under both trees continues to dwindle.
Teak and mahogany applications overlap. They both provide excellent timber for outdoor and indoor furniture, though you need to apply wood preservatives to protect outdoor mahogany furniture.
Both are also popular in the shipbuilding industry and make excellent wood flooring material.
Both mahogany and teak wood are expensive. However, teak is significantly more expensive. Whereas the average price of grade A mahogany lumber is $28 per board foot, a similar quality of teak wood costs $47 per board foot.
So, What’s the Main Difference Between Teak and Mahogany?
The main difference between teak and mahogany furniture is that teak is harder, rarely, and considered more exclusive than mahogany.
That said, though, mahogany has a more appealing grain pattern and is easier to work with. Mahogany wood is also more affordable than teak.
Additionally, teak wood is more weather and insect-resistant than mahogany. While mahogany furniture can last several decades outdoors, you must first treat the wood with preservatives to improve the weather and insect resistance.
Is mahogany better than teak?
Unfortunately, no. Although mahogany is one of the most in-demand wood types, teak is superior (and even more expensive) because it’s more beautiful and durable. Its durability makes it a top choice for building projects, boat and ship making, and flooring.
Is mahogany more expensive than teak?
No, teak wood is more expensive than mahogany wood. Both are valuable and very expensive types of wood. However, teak’s durability tips the scale. Whereas mahogany wood costs $6 to $28 per board foot, the average cost of teak wood is $47 per board foot, with more valuable species, such as Burmese teak lumber, costing more.
Is mahogany and teak wood the same?
No, mahogany and teak are not the same wood types. Although both are highly valuable hardwoods from the same family, Meliaceae, they belong to different genera and have different physical characteristics. Mahogany is from the Swietenia genus, while teak is from the Tectona genus.
Which wood is better than teak?
You have several alternatives when seeking a replacement for teak wood. For instance, Greenheart is almost similar to teak and shares many physical properties. Another excellent option is Ekki, also popular as the red ironwood. Finally, the Iroko tree offers everything teak offers at a more reasonable price.
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Teak and mahogany are two coveted hardwoods that offer beautiful, durable, and weather-resistant timber for woodworking, construction, and other applications. They share many similarities and almost as many differences.
- When to Use Teak Wood: Teak is better when the budget isn’t a primary concern. It’s commonly used in fine furniture, shipbuilding, flooring, countertops, and premium veneers.
- When to Use Mahogany: Mahogany is a great alternative for teak if you seek premium hardwood with a strong reputation but at a lower price. It makes quality furniture, boats, musical instruments, and veneers. Mahogany floors are also beautiful and durable.
So, it’s up to you. However, if you must pick one and budget isn’t a problem, teak is a superior choice.
Here’s another comparison of teak vs walnut, see which one is better.