MAKE SURE ITS ACTUALLY VINTAGE AND NOT “VINTAGE LOOK” - Read how to tell the difference...
The growth of upcycling, recycling and a general increased accountability for the environment has lead to a surge in “vintage” furniture such as reclaimed wood in pursuit of a fair and eco-friendly furniture option. Many retailers have used this trend to their advantage by cutting corners and making products “vintage look” rather than actually using true reclaimed materials. It is not really about cost as there are cost benefits in using unwanted material but more about supply as it takes energy, resources and time to seek out sources of reclaimed timber. Ask your retailer if it is reclaimed wood or “reclaimed look” to make sure you are getting the real deal and if they are not sure, check for natural tenons, knots and gauges which show the materials originality and prove its sturdiness.
Reclaimed teak has been harvested from use in in the construction sector, often being harnessed as roof joints and trusses for its resistance to wood rot and general durability. Recycled teak has already been “alive” for upto 80 years, this means in terms of its physical properties it has been given an entire generation of time to mature. This maturity brings with it an immense resistant to weather, termites and other garden pests making the furniture maintenance free. If you have the budget to spend a little more, a full recycled teak dining set will give you that organic charm but will still be a maintenance free material, slowly turning grey with time but not losing an ounce of strength or durability. Demonstrating the durability of teak, the below was photographed in 2002 and shows a teak bench after serving 72 years on HMS Defiance, built in 1860. Defiance was the name of a succession of distinguished wooden hulled warships which were based at Davenport until 1956 and used during their final years as permanently moored training ships.
The reclaimed teak charlatans out there will always be constrained by size. This isn’t us being macho but stating a fact that reclaimed teak is available in large dimensions, sometimes upto 18cm in diameter whereas newly harvested teak has often only had 7-10 years to mature and therefore rarely exceeds 8cm in diameter. What this means is that the designs in new harvested teak will often be less chunky and generous than with reclaimed teak. Another issue to watch out for is the presence of too much sap wood. Sap wood is the soft wood that is present in young trees, its much whiter than the mature wood and is often much weaker so if it crops up around where joints meet eventually the wood will split.
Reclaimed teak garden furniture is by far our most prized possession and is the only wood that is built perfectly for outdoor, it will cost more than hardwoods so make sure you do your diligence and guarantee it’s the real deal!