Teak Flooring, Your Complete Step By Step Guide

gorgeous teak flooring in bedroomWhen it comes to choosing the right floor for your home, I am sure that you would agree that it can sometimes be a bit challenging, not to mention daunting for most people. If you are thinking of using teak, you have come to the right place!

In this article, I will outline everything you need to know about using teak for your floors. You will learn about the origin of teak, its uses, benefits and disadvantages, the estimated price, how to install it correctly (or make sure someone else does it right) and some easy maintenance tips for all kinds of teak (heartwood, sapwood, etc.). On a side note, if you just need to repair your wood floors from scratches, dents and other damages, check out that guide for more information. Let’s get started!

Where Does Teak Wood Used For Flooring Come from?

Teak grows naturally in the countries of India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Burma. It can also be found in countries in Africa and in the Caribbean. However, if you find teak floor planks at your local distributor and it’s not labeled as being “imported”, its has probably been grown in a local forestry. Before teak planks can be harvested, trees are left to grow for up to 80 years and can often reach around 50m in height.

PRO TIP #1Buying locally grown teak flooring (in the U.S) is a great choice if you are wanting to save some money. It’s usually more affordable because you don’t have to fork out for the additional shipping costs, etc. that have to be added to imported teak. However, when buying locally grown teak planks, I highly recommend that you only purchase from trustworthy companies (such as Pacific Coast Teak) that deliver only the highest quality wood. Also, if you are feeling adventurous (or are on a super tight budget), you can also sometimes find teak in wood pallets, which you can break up and reuse, provided you follow my guide on how to do this safely.

Teak comes in planks and can be installed in any type of room. Due to its look and water resistant properties, it can be used in kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and for all outdoor applications as well.

What Are the Advantages of Using Teak Floors, Compared To Other Hardwood?

Teak flooring is a very durable and visually appealing type of hardwood. It has a yellow-brown appearance (some variants have a bit more of a honey-gold color) which becomes darker as it matures (unless it is exposed to direct sunlight for extended amounts of time). While is less common that other types of wood flooring but is generally considered to be one of the better types of hardwood flooring materials that you can use for these reasons:

  • It is very strong – It is relatively high in its total tinsel strength, which means it will not break when put under tension and will be able to resist most of the wear and tear that other hardwood flooring may not be able to stand up to. This means that you will not risk damaging the floor when you move furniture around or through heavy foot traffic.
  • It has a high oil content – This prevents it from drying out and cracking over time. The oil content in the teak wood will not cause slipping. It is beneficial for the preservation of the wood, the same way that oil is beneficial in preserving leather.
  • It’s mold, rot and fungi resistant – Its natural oils give it this ability and these oils remain in the teak wood after it is processed for flooring, leaving you with its benefits.
  • Teak wood repels water – The tight grain structure prevents water and humidity from penetrating through the wood. Its natural oil also helps to fill in the micro pores in the wood and provides a seal for your floor.
  • The wood doesn’t warp – Since this wood has natural oils and a tight grain structure, this prevents it from warping or bending, something that is often an issue with other hardwood.
  • It’s insect resistant – Termites and other insects cannot eat through teak wood (mainly due to its hardness and oils) which will eliminate the need for future issues that often arise with wood that doesn’t repel critters.
  • It’s green friendly – Teak wood doesn’t grow in rainforests like some other wood (used for flooring) does. Just remember, if you are concerned about saving the environment, try and stay away from wood that is taken from over-harvested forests and protected areas.

Are the Any Disadvantages to Using This Type of Wood?

  • It’s a bit expensive – Although most people love teak, this type of floor is usually imported (much like brazilian walnut floors and other exotic wood) and retail stocks are sometimes low because not everyone can afford to buy it. However, please remember that you can check for locally supplied teak (if it’s available) and this is often much more affordable and readily available to the general public.
  • It can experience color fade in direct sunlight – If areas of your teak floors are exposed to direct sunlight, the darker color will begin to fade slightly over time. This is pretty common for most dark wood flooring. However, this is easily avoided by making effective use of mats and rugs (or even occasionally moving furniture around a bit) or by scheduling a lovely wood refinish every couple years.
  • Slight chance of allergic reactions – Although its extremely uncommon, there is a slight possibility that you could have a mild allergic reaction to this type of wood floor so keep an eye out for any rashes, etc that might appear when you touch these planks. However, to be honest, if this was an issue for you, you would probably know about it already from past experience.

How Much Does Teak Flooring Cost and Which Grade Is Right for Me?

There are different levels of wood quality that you can buy. Teak wood quality falls into one of five different categories (with the highest quality being the most expensive).

Builders GradeValue GradePremium GradeDesigner Grade
$9.00 – $11.60 per sq. foot (entry level teak)
$10.40 – $13.20 per sq. foot (best value for your money)
$12.40 – $15.80 per sq. foot (fantastic quality but a little expensive)
$12.40 – $15.80 per sq. foot (premium teak, very expensive)

While builders grade quality is still decent, the best flooring options are value grade and premium grade teak wood. This will give you a near perfect flooring look without forcing you to spend the premium amounts that the designer grades will cost. I highly recommend that you purchase prefinished teak planks that have a small beveled edge otherwise you will get uneven joins between them, which doesn’t look great in most cases. However, if this is something you are specifically looking for, ask your local supplier for “square edge” planks.

Special Offer: Free Hardwood Floor Samples (United States Only)

Gohaus has kindly offered to provide free hardwood floor samples to my blog readers. I highly recommend that you take advantage of this generous offer by clicking here and ordering a bundle that matches what you are looking for. You won’t be charged a cent! 🙂

Quick Overview of Installing Teak on Your Floor

If you are hiring a contractor to do this for you, most of these steps will not apply to you. However, it’s always good to educate yourself, even if it’s just to make sure that the person you are paying is doing it right. Please keep in mind that I am going to write this as if you were doing the work. Before you start, you will need the following tools:

PrybarMalletVacuumPlanks
NailgunBroomSawSpacers

Easy Preparation Tasks:

It’s also very important to complete the following preparation steps before laying your teak planks:

Step 1: Remove old flooringStep 2: Check the subfloorStep 3: Clear your workspaceStep 4: Lay the barrier paper
You should always remove the existing floor before you install a new one. Installing a new floor over an existing floor is the lazy man’s way of doing things. It will likely cause problems with the floor and will eventually require you to replace the floor and do it the right way like what should have been done the first time. Take your pry bar, flat shovel, hammer and any other tools that you will need and begin removing the floor. Throw everything away as you remove it and ensure that all nails, glue and anything else is completely removed from the floor before you continue.
The first layer of the floor is called the subfloor. If you are replacing an old floor, the subflooring will likely already be in place. Examine the existing subfloor and replace any damaged portions. You should be looking for any significant cracks or broken pieces. If you find this, this should be fixed before you continue to the next step. If a flooring contractor says this needs to be replaced, always ask to be shown evidence. While any quotes that you receive using Pro Floor Tips are from reliable and trustworthy contractors, remember that you must always be vigilant for scammers.
You cannot proceed to the next step if the area in which you are working is untidy and full of rubbish. If you do, it’s going to be very difficult to install the vapor barrier paper. Although it’s as bit boring, its absolutely critical to make sure that you clean up, especially if you have worked on the sub floor. Take a couple minutes to clear the floor of any leftover debris, including (but not limited to) any nails, glue, dust and other particles. Pick up the big pieces and finish it off by sweeping and vacuuming the floor thoroughly.
The vapor barrier paper is very important. It’s necessary to prevent any potential moisture from getting through the floor but at the same time, allows the wood to breath (which will not happen if you use a plastic lining). Don’t skip this step otherwise it will cause you major headaches further down the line. Simply install the 15-pound felt paper, ensuring that its completely level throughout the floor. Also make sure that there are no creases, rips or folds throughout the area. Thanks to Bryan Fussell for this recommendation!
PRO TIP #2 Teak flooring will expand or contract based on the temperature and humidity levels inside your home. This is especially true since it will likely have been stored in very different conditions throughout the shipping process before it arrives at your home. You should give the teak wood planks time to acclimate in your home before you begin the installation process. Allow them to sit in your home for 1-2 weeks to ensure that it is properly adjusted to its new environment.

Simple Installation Steps:

Now it is time to begin installing your teak wood floors. The planks will be of an equal thickness and width and usually equal lengths (although uneven lengths are perfectly fine). Here is what you should do.

Step 1: Lay planks with spacersStep 2: Secure the planksStep 3: Next row and repeatStep 4: Install the corner molding
To start, pick a corner of the room and begin lining the planks along the floor row by row, using spacers to provide a 3/4″ gap by the walls. This will allow the floor to further expand and contract without cracking as the indoor temperature changes. The planks will have male and female grooves cut into the sides to allow for the rows to fit together securely. Place the male grooved side (also called the tongue side) of the plank pointing towards the center of the room and fit all successive rows in the same direction after that.
When the first plank is in position, nail it to the floor, starting from 1/4″ in from the edge of the first plank. Angle the nail so it is pointing in towards the wall. Be careful when you are nailing, if you drive the nail in too aggressively or too close to the edge, it may cause the plank to crack and render it unusable. If this happens often, you can drill pilot holes before you nail them through. When you reach the end of the row, you will usually cut the final plank so you can match the length of the wall and then use it to start the next row.
Align the next row tightly against the previous row and repeat the process until all of the rows have been installed. When you get to the final row, cut the tongue side off and fit it between the previous row and the wall along with the spacers. Use a rubber mallet to push the planks together before nailing them down without damaging the planks themselves. You should stagger the ends of the planks randomly so there are no ends that align with the previous row of planks. This will keep them from floating into other rows over time.
Once the planks are installed, it’s important that you finish the job by installing the molding around the edges of the floors. This will cover up the area that you intentionally left when you used the spacers. Putting the molding in place is rather simple. To do this, lay it along the length of the wall and then simply cut the ends of the molding at 45-degree angles so they fit together. Lastly, nail them along the wall using a nail gun or a couple small nails.

If you would like to see this process in action, I will creating a teak Youtube video for this in the near future so stay tuned for that. 🙂

How Can I Maintain My Teak Flooring Like a Pro?

Just like most hardwood flooring, teak does require some maintenance if you want to keep it looking great. It would be a shame to let your gorgeous floors go neglected, but don’t stress, it isn’t hard, simply do the following:

  • Use a decent hardwood cleaner every two months: I personally recommend “Howard Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner” or the “Swiffer WetJet Hardwood Floor Cleaner”. They have some great reviews and are reasonably price.
  • Manually oil your teak every two years: As mentioned above, teak wood is a very oily wood. However, over a long period of time, the wood will begin to dry out. When the teak wood dries out, it will become at risk for mold growth and will no longer be able to repel termites and insects as effectively. To prevent this, you should occasionally apply teak oil to the floor.
  • If you want to add some color to your floors, remember that you can always paint them. Despite what many may tell you, this can give some absolutely amazing results and I highly recommend that you review that resource for more information about doing just that.

PRO TIP #3If a certain area of your home receives a very high amount of foot traffic, I recommend applying the oil every year in those areas, just to ensure that it is maintained properly. To oil the floor, ensure that the floor is completely clear from all dirt and debris and remove the furniture from the room. Use clean rags or towels to rub the oil into the wood in a circular motion. Allow the oil to absorb overnight before you bring the furniture back into the room.

In conclusion, teak hardwood is a beautiful flooring option if you can fit it into your budget. As long as it’s cared for properly (which is fairly easy), it can give your home an exotic look and has the potential to last a lifetime, due to its durability, its resistance to water and insects and its natural oils. If you are keen on this type of hardwood for your floors, you will not be disappointed. Thanks for reading this guide! If you liked it, please share it with your friends and family or let me know in the comment section below.

Last modified: May 3rd, 2018 by Bill Reed
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Bill Reed

Bill Reed

Hi, my name is Bill and I would like to thank you for reading this article. If you want to thank me for my time, please share this post with your friends. Comments are usually answered within 48 hours, looking forward to hearing from you.

20 Comments

  1. I read your article as I am always looking to gain more knowledge in hardwood flooring. You asked for input so these are just a few things to consider. I did have a couple of concerns since the article seemed to be directed to the DIY. I am assuming this is prefinished teak. Is it square edge or beveled? Does the homeowner realize the planks will have lips if it is prefinished square edge? Also, plastic as a moisture barrier will totally block moisture from the subfloor. This could cause potential problems with moisture in the subfloor. The teak should be able to take on and release moisture in a controlled way from the proper moisture barrier between the subfloor and wood flooring. Also, the general guide lines from the NWFA recommends leaving 3/4″ expansion along walls. This is not meant to be critical. Just sharing my thoughts.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Bryan! Thanks for your fantastic comment, I have made a couple adjustments to the article (after some additional research of course) and have left the necessary attribution. While plastic does work, I do agree with you and have reflected that in my recent edits. I also clarified that I recommend beveled edges for the planks and adjusted the number to 3/4 inches, thanks for that. Appreciate your contribution to the community!

  2. Hey there, I wonder if you could advise me. I purchased a house 5 years ago that has beautiful teak floors. As this house was old the floors had been there for many years before I moved in. As I said the floors are beautiful but in my living room I have double glass doors leading out my house that is in full sunlight all day and has no awning above it. As you mentioned in the article that sunlight may cause fading of the color, this is exactly what has happened. Is there a way that I may treat this section of the floor without having to touch the rest of the living room flooring as its just the section by the door.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Tyron, it is possible to refinish a section of the floor but usually it doesn’t turn out very well. I suggest that you get the entire room (at least) refinished to keep the color tones consistent and looking flawless. Hope that helps!

  3. Hey Bill,
    Is there a way for me to tell if my flooring is really teak? Also is there a way for me to grade the quality of the teak that I have? Keep in mind that my floors are alread in my house.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Anthony! Yes but I cannot help you with a simple verbal explanation of your floors, I kinda need a photo or something like that. Ideally, get a local flooring company to come around and assess it in person, they will be able to give you an accurate response. If you want to send the pic, just use the contact form to drop me an email with the link.

  4. Hey Bill, thanks for the informative article, I recently moved into a house with teak floors so I found it very beneficial for me. You mentioned in your article that teak has a high concentration of oil in it and just like leather its needed to be in the wood. I was wondering if this oil ever dries out as does leather oils and if it what can I use to put the oils back?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Susan! It is not usually necessary to re-oil your floors, unless they are very old or they have been in direct sunlight for a long period of time (many years). Besides, the floor finish would normally protect the floor regardless and it is more likely that you would need to just reapply that instead of worrying about oiling it up. Hope that helps!

  5. Hi Bill, you mentioned, staying away from wood that is taken from over-harvested forests and protected areas. How do you tell if a company you are using takes wood from a wood mill that does deforestation?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Trisha! It can be a little difficult, especially since there are many companies to choose from. However, most of the time, you can simply ask how they source their teak and where it comes from. Honestly, locally sourced lumber is probably your best bet. Hope that helps 🙂

  6. Hi Bill,

    I am in a bit of dilemma, my installer installed the flooring without having the bullnose handy (as it wasn’t available at the time of installation) now the floor is layed and we need to cut a portion of the flooring away from the top of the step so that we can lay the bullnose. My husband has been beating his brains out as to how we can cut it back without taking all the wood up in our hallway (major job). this has been a nightmare for us and I’m hoping you can shed some light on this issue.. THX

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Kim, it is possible but not something I suggest doing yourself. I recommend you reach out to a local flooring company and let them assist you.

  7. Hi my name is Jacob
    I bought a house has a teak wood. I notice tat there are a rubber stip between the wood. Do you have any idea what kind of rubber . I am talking about 2 millimeter wide .
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Jacob, they might have been installed to reduce noise or to perhaps seal the planks. If you need something like that, you will be able to grab some from almost any flooring shop. Hope that helps.

  8. Hi Bill. I loved your article, but am a bit concerned now because I just ordered three samples of teak (they were fee!) But the price per sq was only 5 dollars a SF. I take it, it’s fake!?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Tiffany! That is a very good price! I have looked at your link, and they are a reputable company so you should be fine. Let me know how those samples look, I am very curious to say the least!

  9. I just purchased Bellawood Tamboril / Teak 5″ wide flooring. Can I use my Bostistch 16 g nailer? Or do I need to purchase an 18 g nailer? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Michael! That should be fine, give it a try. Thanks for the comment!

  10. Can you use Staples VS Nails ?

    Having a dispute with Hardwood Provider ?

    Reply
    • Bill Reed

      Hi Tim! Oh dear, well that is a hotly debated topic lol. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter, both have their pros and cons. Most companies use staples as they have the equipment already, plus it is usually a little cheaper. I would just go with that, unless there is some specific reason why nails is preferable in your situation (doesnt sound like it)

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